King of Scars has been one of my most anticipated reads for 2019, to the point that I even bought 2 copies, the standard edition and the fancy pants Illumicrate edition. I honestly couldn’t tell you how excited I was to receive my copy and read it, kid in a candy shop does not even cover it.
The Monster is me, and I am the Monster.
King of Scars is the first book in Leigh Bardugo’s new duology set in the Grishaverse. The same universe that Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom and the original Grisha trilogy takes place in. If you haven’t read them, I recommend reading the other Grisha books before reading King of Scars, there’s a lot of spoilers for the rest of the series throughout.
Set 3 years after the Ravkan Civil war, King of Scars follows Nikolai, Zoya and Nina as they struggle to right a kingdom after the Darkling spilt the country in two. As their enemies draw closer, Ravka’s borders weaken, and the Lantsov King must stop a rising threat to the country and fight the monster within. Yet everyday the infected darkness in Nikolai grows stronger and bolder, threatening to destroy everything they have started to rebuild.
There’s SPOILERS in this review! Don’t want to read them? Check out my Spoiler-Free Review Video
You are strong enough to survive the fall.
I could have definitely benefited rereading the original series; it wasn’t that long ago I read the trilogy, but I found there was so many characters and events referenced that I felt I didn’t get the full picture. Especially because I somehow completely forgot about the Apparat, but that may have been an intentional mind-blank due to his douche-baggery.
King of Scars doesn’t have a natural flow whilst reading, and for this reason I found it a struggle to get into. I couldn’t settle into the storyline, starting and stopping repeatedly as I tried to fight my way through the plot and characters.
There feels like a lack of plot in King of Scars, the book loses focus and meanders across events for a while. Nikolai’s struggle with darkness gets lost for a while and pushed aside, and all of Issak’s POV chapters seemingly pointless given his death in the final chapters.
Given that this book is 500 pages, making it fairly hefty for a YA novel, it still felt like not a lot happened. What eventually did happen, felt glaringly obvious and unsurprising.
King of Scars almost feels like it’s rushed, your not left to stew in the realisations of characters or any major plot reveals, no space to breath and take in what’s happening to the characters. It feels like there’s a lack of detail that would’ve been vital in caring for the events of the book. Generally, I’m not a cold person, but I felt like there wasn’t enough emotional investment in the storyline. I care about the characters because of the investment I had in the original books, almost inspite of this book.
There’s a major reveal in Nina’s POV with a factory filled with drug-addict babies and pregnant women, and I found I just didn’t care. Of course, I knew I should do, I mean abused babies!?! But even considering this, it wasn’t far up on my scale of shock horror, and that’s a pretty harsh thing to realise, considering how much I balled with feels at Kaz and Inej.
Most women suffer thorns for the sake of the flowers.
Given the amount I can gripe about my read through of King of Scars, there were somethings I did enjoy about the book. In particular, Zoya.
I really loved seeing and reading more about Zoya and her back story; it was nice to finally find out why Zoya comes across as cold and unloving. To finally see her hidden depths and smooth off some of her harsh bitter beautiful edges. It was definitely a welcome change to see and realise, that Zoya does truly care for the other characters in the series, that shes not just in it for herself.
Unsurprisingly, even with Zoya’s character arc, the book felt rushed through. Although I loved the twist with the amplifiers, it felt like Zoya learnt how to work through them, past them too quickly. Literally the Shortest training montage ever. Zoya seemed to deeply care for Sankta Juris, but there wasn’t any evidence as to where this love sprung from, seemingly appearing from nowhere, to be cut short as she kills him. Again, not enough time spent to actually live through the characters feelings.
We hope or we falter.
This book, I have no idea where to start with this book. I was so looking forward to reading this, so excited, but I may have put it up on too higher pedestal.
I feel a little disappointed in this book, so much was promised that just wasn’t given. I gave King of Scars only 3 stars out of 5 on goodreads and I stand by it, controversial I know. I know you guys are going to have opinions, so many opinions on this book, but I just really couldn’t give it higher, and believe me I wanted to.
I’m not sure if I’m being harsh or generous, it wasn’t necessarily a bad book, it just didn’t live up to the hype or my expectations. Leigh Bardugo is an amazing writer and I love the way she creates her characters.
The dialogue she writes is always fantastic and snarky, I love it. But the development of the story and emotional investment in the characters and events just wasn’t there for me this time.
Also bearing in mind, for a series dubbed the ‘Nikolai duology’ there was surprisingly little page time spent on Nikolai. King of Scars spent more time following Zoya and that for me, was part of it’s saving grace.
This was fairly long review given my previous posts, but I’ve got a lot of thoughts for this book. And a lot of love for the author, I will definitely be finishing the duology when the sequel is released, but I’ve learnt my lesson with the hype. Reading King of Scars, has however solidified my need to reread all the previous books in the series again.