Ruin and Rising: The Grisha Trilogy, Book 3

Book review by
Julie A. Carlson, Common Sense Media
Ruin and Rising: The Grisha Trilogy, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Rousing, romantic finale to fantasy set in alternate Russia.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 8 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

It has Russian names, but Ruin and Rising has no details of the alternate Russian history; the world was established in the first two books. This volume does include some spiritual elements. 

Positive Messages

Even though lives can be ruined, people can rise above and start anew. Through the power of love, acceptance, and friendship, evil can be defeated. Choose your own destiny and path in life and don't let other people control you. There also are strong messages about trusting others, relying on friends and your instincts, sticking up for people, and helping others in times of need.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alina Starkov continues to be a positive role model in Ruin and Rising. She's strong, gutsy, and has a take-no-prisoners mentality. Even though she'll do anything to protect her friends, she still doesn't want harm to come to her people. She wants to be good and help others. Alina's determined to defeat the Darkling, despite having feelings for him. But sometimes she can't trust those feelings because she knows she's being controlled by his power. Mal also continues to be heroic -- a true fighter and leader who loves Alina and wants to protect her. Even though the Darkling has negative qualities and is the villain, we come to know him as a person. There are other characters who are upstanding people and aid Alina and Mal in their quest to protect Ravka and take out evil once and for all. 


Characters (people and monsters) are injured and killed. There's physical and mental combat, including with fists, guns, swords, and magic. When people are killed, it's briefly described with blood, but it's not too gory. 


There's kissing, flirting, and a brief sex scene. The kissing is more described than the sex scene is, which is more about the heat and passion of the moment than the act itself. 


"Damn" and "ass."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ruin and Rising is the third book in the The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. It continues the story of Alina searching for the amplifiers that give her power and defeating the Dark One. There's hand-to-hand combat with weapons and magic, and characters are injured and killed. Strong language is limited to "damn" and "ass." There's romance and kissing, and, in a brief sex scene, the kissing is more described than the sex. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 14 years old Written byKaitlyn_reads January 13, 2021

Everything you need to know about this trilogy

So basically shadow and bone takes place in the Grishaverse where the Grisha which have powers rule over the regular class. I don’t want to say anything else be... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bybooklover156 July 6, 2017

not for 13 year olds!!!

I don't really understand why this is rated as for 13 year olds. There is a whole sex scene even though it is described as mostly kissing, but they are cle... Continue reading

What's the story?

RUIN AND RISING is the final book in The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. Main characters Alina and Mal continue to search for the remaining amplifier, the firebird, to increase Alina's power as the Sun Summoner. But, in the meantime, she has to deal with a group of zealots who worship her as a saint. Alina feels she's nothing of the kind, that she's just a girl on a mission to defeat the Darkling and protect Ravka from further destruction. Alina doesn't want more lives lost. She must prove to her people and her friends that she can save Ravka. But in her way stand new foes and allies, including her own feelings for the Darkling and Mal. Alina must figure out her own destiny, which could lead her either on a path of ruin or rising.

Is it any good?

Ruin and Rising is darker than the previous two novels in the trilogy. Alina's strength of character and fierce determination give the story its light. Ruin and Rising also digs deeper into the Darkling as a person. Even though he's the villain, readers root for him. Alina continues to battle her feelings for him and Mal. While turning the pages, readers wonder who will win her love and trust. Bardugo's characters -- from main to secondary -- are fascinatingly multilayered, particularly the Darkling.

Bardugo also does a great job of breathing life into a mystical and magical world. This series is filled with complicated and dynamic stories and characters who feel real. Nothing's ever an easy choice for Alina, Mal, and the Darkling. Whether you are Team Mal or Team Darkling, the novel is an entertaining read and gives closure to the series. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ending of Ruin and Rising. Is that how you figured it would turn out? Are you happy with the ending?

  • What do you like best about fantasy books set in an alternate reality? Are they believable? Did you connect with the world and characters author Leigh ​Bardugo created? 

  • How hard is it for someone to recover after being ruined, personally or professionally? Is it possible to overcome people's judgments and negativity? How can someone rise from being ruined?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and romance

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate