Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm - It's time for Siege and Storm! How long have we all been waiting for this?! I loved Shadow and Bone and am so happy to finally have more. And while Siege and Storm may not have lived up to all of my hopes and dreams for it, I do love this trilogy and definitely recommend it to fans of YA fantasy. So please just try to remember that when you read my review. It might not be glowing, but I still love these books!*There are spoilers for Shadow and Bone, so consider yourself warned.*Siege and Storm picks up right where Shadow and Bone left off. I'm actually not going to do a plot summary here because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone and so much of it feels spoilery. There's already a lot of information in the summary above and it's actually a pretty accurate one. Alina goes through a lot in this book, just like the last one. She must come to terms with the changes she is going through. She must accept that she has a connection to the Darkling, whether she wants it or not. And she must discover who she can trust and who she can't. But in the end, a lot of the book seemed to be about the relationship between Alina and Mal. And I'm not quite sure how I feel about that.I know from Shadow and Bone that a lot of people love the Darkling. I certainly loved him as the villain, I think he's one of the best. He was sneaky and charming and mysterious and powerful. But I never understood how people really loved him. I always thought Alina should choose Mal and I was happy in the end when she did. Some of my favorite parts of Siege and Storm were the parts given to Alina and Mal and their romance and banter. But I certainly didn't want the focus of the book to be their relationship. I, honestly, grew a little bored with Alina's inner monologue when it came to Mal and some of the things that went on between them. I just wanted Alina to be honest with Mal and I wanted Mal to stop being so insecure. They frustrated me a bit throughout the book.The other part that bothered me a little with this book was that a lot happened but we also didn't seem to get a lot of plot advancement. It's a strange combination and it's hard for me to explain, but I just didn't feel like we really moved forward with the story. Alina grows and changes, we meet new characters, some things do happen but in regards to an overall trilogy, this second installment is definitely much more character driven than about plot advancement. And it felt long. I have no doubt that there will be a lot of action in the final book (I can't wait to see what will happen!) but this one definitely felt like a middle book to me.Now about my favorite parts of the book: Tolya and Tamar! These new characters were by far my favorite and I really hope they'll be around for a while. We also meet a privateer who is charismatic, smart, brave, and sneaky. I think he is meant to make up for the fact that the Darkling is hidden for much of the book but he is really no where near as exciting as the Darkling. I wasn't nearly as conflicted or drawn in by him as I was with the Darkling. I liked him, definitely, but just not as much. The Darkling's absence is felt in this one but these new characters do offer some distraction from that. And Tamar was my most favorite new character. She definitely made up for the absence of one of the characters from the last one. I hope we get to see much more from her.Final Thoughts: I think this review probably sounds negative, but I think that's because I loved Shadow and Bone and had so many expectations for this book. And while it didn't live up to all of them, it was still really good. I still love Mal and Alina. I love some of the new characters. I love the adventure, especially in the beginning of the book. The middle did drag a bit for me with the relationship stuff and the non-advancement of plot stuff, but the writing is fantastic and the end sets up wonderfully for the final book. I can't wait to see what happens in the final book. I gave Siege and Storm 4 stars and highly recommend this series to anyone who is a fan of YA fantasy books.