So, I probably wouldn’t have read Shadow & Bone last year if I didn’t have to read it for work. And I will point out that I did like the book—I didn’t love it, but it was a nice little read, and definitely not as bad as I was expecting. I can say that the same is true for Siege & Storm; I wasn’t planning on reading it (but I forgot my book at home, needed something to read at lunch), and it’s better than I was dreading it was going to turn out, but there’s still a lot of problems so it’s not quite omg omg omg.I actually really love the beginning of this. I was dreading that the majority of the book would be Alina wanting to use her powers but can’t and moping around about how she can’t be with Mal because the Darkling has so much influence over her. (Which isn’t to say it doesn’t happen, but we’ll get there.) And instead, we get a fairly action-packed opening that sees the Darkling finding Alina and Mal almost immediately after they leave Ravka. I really liked that, it kicks the plot in motion and it grabbed me. I loved that even after the Darkling finds the sea serpent Rusalye, there’s another double-cross by Sturmhond and his crew. The twists kept me on my toes in the beginning and definitely got me hooked.Unfortunately, once the action returned to Os Alta and the Little Palace, the pace ground to a halt. A large chunk of the plot deals with Alina’s attempts to resurrect that Second Army and lead the Grisha to victory, and I liked that Bardugo actually shows how complicated the political maneuvering is, not to mention finding able Grisha who are willing to fight with her. I liked that it was discussed and that Alina had to figure out ways to sway politicians to her side. However, this also led to the one thing I was really dreading: the love triangle moping. Or as I’ve been calling it, the love trapezoid. Oh yes, there’s a third love interest now: Sturmhond, aka Nikolai. (Okay, I have to say this: when he reveals his true identity as the tsarvitch and Alina punches him in the face, I loved that. That was awesome.) I actually do like Nikolai—he’s snarky, but I think that he actually does care for Alina and supports her plans. I just hate that the only reason he’s there is so that Alina can mope between whether to choose between him or Mal. Oh, and Mal. I liked him in the first book, but here it’s just…god. Can we please not have love interests who are complete jerks? I get why Mal begins to drink and fight, I get that he’s upset that Alina’s moving further away from him and that they’re being forced apart because she’s not normal anymore but he’s an asshole about it. And then we have the Darkling psychically stalking Alina because he managed to tie himself to her, and it’s mentioned that he lurks around because “He’s lonely.” Look, I’m all for making the villain sympathetic but there really hasn’t been a lot involving the Darkling to tell me that he’s worthy of redemption. (Attacking Alina with shadow creatures and then messing with her head isn’t good, either.)(Can I also bring up Zoya here? I was really disappointed with how her character arc’s been. I liked that in this, she’s willing to go along with Alina and fight with her, but Zoya’s still massively slut-shamed because she goes after Mal and for making Alina’s life hell. And on that, I really hated that Genya gets the shaft for most of the book—it’s very well established that most of the Grisha were threatened to work with the Darkling, and Alina constantly thinks “Genya betrayed me, she wasn’t my friend at all!” But toward the end, all is forgiven because Genya loses her beauty and Alina’s willing to defend her friend once more. Alina, your awesome is dangerously getting low.)There are things that I did like, though, both characters and plot-wise. First of all, TOLYA AND TAMAR. OMG. More Tamar please. She was awesome and badass and I want spin-offs of her and her brother as privateers. I really liked that Alina spends a lot of time having to figure out what the third amplifier is and guessing the animal’s origins. I liked that she’s observant enough to put things together and that she is trying to see if her original hometown does have a clue to not only her past and powers, but what it has to do with Morozova. And I did really like the ending—that is how you raise the stakes in a trilogy.If it just wasn’t for the stupid love…whatever shape you want to call it, I would really enjoy this a lot more. And I do really want to love the series, but there are points where this does drag and the slut-shaming and love connections and I start losing interest. If you liked the first book, you’ll like this one. If you were more on the fence, I’d just say check it out and decide if you want to keep reading on.