A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
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Goodreads summary: Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So, when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
Feyre, a mortal, has to spend the rest of her life at the Spring Court as punishment for killing a faerie and thus leave behind her father and two sisters who she felt bound to provide for because of a vow to her mother on her deathbed. There she resides with High Fae Tamlin and his emissary Lucien. The more she spends time in faerie company, the more she learns how distorted the depictions of faerie’s has been by mortals. She gradually falls in love with Tamlin, however, due to the danger Feyre has been placed in because of sinister activity in the faerie realm, Tamlin decides Feyre must return to her family. After she spends time with her family, she soon comes to realise that she loves Tamlin and that she must return to the Court. As soon as she returns and finds Tamlin and Lucien gone, Alis reveals to her the truth behind the so-called “treaty” that bound Feyre to the Court and the scheming of the villainous and vengeful Amarantha seeking to destroy mortal realm and whom now has control of Tamlin having failed to meet the terms of his vow. Feyre resolves to save Tamlin from Amarantha but first she must pass Amarantha’s tests or solve her riddle.
I absolutely hated this book. This is the first time since The Secret History in which I’ve awarded a book a mere one star on Goodreads. I knew there was a lot of commotion surrounding the book as many readers love this and there are others who have highlighted how the series continues to become increasingly problematic. Regardless, I wanted to judge for myself. However, after reading this, I do not wish to continue with the series. I have heard that as this series progresses it essentially becomes 50 Shades of Grey but YA. Despite this, there is one aspect of the writing which Maas depicted with a lyrical touch, breathlessly capturing her surroundings but it lost its magic once the characters interacted with it. The major reasons I did not enjoy this were specific stylistic choices in Maas’s writing, laughable plot lines, telling instead of showing and most importantly, highly under-developed characters especially our protagonist Feyre. In fact, the one star awarded is for Feyre’s sister Nesta who was developed far better in under 50 pages than Feyre whom I barely knew anything about even after a good 400 pages.
Feyre is by far one of the most under-developed characters I have ever read about. Many of her personality traits are told to us by Lucien and Tamlin. They laugh uproariously at her “jokes,” “retorts,” her alleged wit, stubbornness and righteousness. However, her dialogue, her thoughts and actions showcase a completely different story almost to the point where it appears that she doesn’t have a personality whatsoever. She’s more so a plot-device than she is a fully fledged character; a device to find out more about faerie’s and their realm. We had to be told by Tamlin that she loves her family and if Tamlin hadn’t supplied that information, I would never have guessed that she did. Other than her dislike towards fae and her love of painting, I couldn’t even summarise her in three short adjectives if you asked. I’m being kind here because I can summarise her in three words: a wet lettuce. At one point, this charmless, wet lettuce, second-coming Bella Swan sets out to manipulate Lucien by being a little nicer to him and somehow it works? Lucien, on the other hand, is fairly likable even with a limited amount of characterisation and I think that may just be because of the colours he has chosen for his room (red, orange, gold and earthy colours) which made him relatable for me. Whereas Tamlin is a token seemingly good guy. The introduction of Rhysand who appears to be cunning, manipulative and strategic would almost be exciting had most of these characters not already been heavily over-represented in literature that they might as well be tropes. Amarantha, our villain, is terrifying and yet is painted in a Cersei-esque light whereby you cannot help but feel sorry for.
The first half of the story was incredibly predictable and unfortunately, because I was already bored by then, no amount of twists and turns would be enough to alleviate my exhaustion with the plot and the characters. By this point, I was skim reading. The first half had huge potential to be gripping, however, Maas’s attachment to her stylistic choices and over-use of “…” and “—” disjointed the pacing and reduced it to the ludicrous. It was difficult to take these tense moments seriously. I respect unconventional choices, but I think I realised that I respect these choices when it is done well and appropriately, there needs to be a method to the madness.
The “Fire Night” in particular was laughable. Sarah J. Maas, just say you want Tamlin and Feyre to have sex with your chest, why the need for such elaborate scheming? Also, when Feyre calls Tamlin a “faerie pig!” Burn? I laughed at her, not with her.
In the second half, Feyre embarks to save Tamlin and this is included many twists and turns. The Clare Beddor scene was gruesome and easily a scene that could earn its place in The Song of Ice and Fire Series. When Amarantha sets Feyre three tasks to save Tamlin, I, for the first time, held Feyre with full respect as she deftly pulls a Walking Dead move in the first task. The second task made me sympathise with her as I thought it was cruel to set a person who is illiterate a task that requires reading. I will concede that I almost cried at this part because you could feel her grief here. While she wins the final task, horrific though it was, she discovers that Amarantha duped her and I will admit I was a little lost around this part. She solves the riddle (it was obvious that it was love, wasn’t it?) and suddenly she becomes High Fae? It is during Feyre’s imprisonment I realised the stark difference in the chemistry between Feyre and Tamling & Feyre and Rhysand. The latter have obvious chemistry which was an unusual discovery even for me whereas the former have little to none. Feyre suddenly becoming High Fae had me scoffing so hard, I almost became Rose from Titanic instead.
On the whole, I’m glad this ordeal is over. Goodbye, ya wet lettuce, Feyre and Sarah J. Maas, give me a call when you make a series on my new book crush Nesta who is so steely willed she resisted her memory being tampered with by Fae.
P.S. if Sarah J. Maas is anything like Feyre, she definitely cannot be calling herself Sailor Moon in the Afterword. Step away from Queen Sailor Moon.
Have you read ACOTR or are you planning to? What are your thoughts on the series and the characters? Do you think over-use of “…” and “–” are good stylistic choices in writing?
Just a quick note to let everyone know that for some reason, certain notifications aren’t appearing on my app, but hopefully it should be resolved soon. I’m reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine now and after this, I think I might take a break from reading for August and from blogging for a week as I really want to spend some more time with family.
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