This book was one of those that I didn't love but I didn't hate either. I think it was just right for what it set out to be. Being that it takes place in Russia and shakes up a lot of overused YA cliches gave it a few more notches in the like column.
Lets talk a little about the characters. Alina is actually really likable, despite her oblivious-ness and obstinacy. I think that people who are irritated with her are just looking for something to nit pick about because god forbid the main female character who is important to the whole overall storyline be in love with a boy who might not notice her. Isn't this the same trait that makes our hearts hurt for the reliable good boy when they're girl goes for someone else (Simon? Puck? etc.) How dare she be so connected to Mal, who she spent most of her life with.
Our two male leads are Mal and the Darkling. It's sounds like a terrible band name. Mal begins our story as the orphan friend who Alina has been following since they were kids. She loves him, but knows he doesn't feel the same for her. The Darkling is the most powerful Grisha or practitioner of the small science. He wisks her away at the discovery of her abilities and charms her into working with him.
I liked this book because for starters Alina is powerful, but she's not perfect. She's not great with her abilities and she's not great at getting along with people. She's flawed. She starts to see that the Darkling might not be so evil until Mal re-enters the picture.
Lots happens, most of which I wasn't expecting, which is good, I like a little unpredictability. I just tend to feel like it's a good story, just one that might not necessarily stick with me as well as other stories.