I may be biting off more than I can chew here, but what the hell. I've never been a look before I leap gal anyways.
Spoilers will be discussed in this blog. It's a review and a critique so if you don't want to know what happens if you haven't read, LEAVE NOW!
I recently started reading again. It's been some time since I picked up a book and binged but I did and I started with A Court of Thorns and Roses. The first book in a growing five book series. I read all five in about a week. Did I sleep? Not too much. Did I enjoy it? For the most part. But I did have a few issues with them as well. I'm not sure if I'll be doing a review for each of the books in the series, but for now let's focus on ACOTAR.
ACOTAR is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast. Now, if you know ANYTHING about me, you would know I am OBSESSED with Beauty and the Beast. So, bonus points there. But, this isn't just a BATB retelling. It's also a High Fantasy Fae series. Lots of world building happens, introducing us to the land of Prythian.
Here is the book synopsis:
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a terrifying creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not truly a beast, but one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled her world.
At least, he’s not a beast all the time.
As she adapts to her new home, her feelings for the faerie, Tamlin, transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But something is not right in the faerie lands. An ancient, wicked shadow is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it, or doom Tamlin―and his world―forever.
A Court of Thorns and Roses … where to start.
So. First, off the bat, I’m gonna let you know right now. I rate this book 3 stars out of 5. And I feel like that’s being generous …. Mostly because I did enjoy the later books better. Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t get emotionally involved in this book or care about the characters or didn’t enjoy it. Because I absolutely did. I cried. I yelled. But mostly, I was confused and a bit baffled.
Now, by no means am I a perfect author. Just throwing that out there. So, with that being said, this book does a whole lot of telling and not a lot of showing. We get told a lot of about the history of the land, backstory of characters, even the layout of a scene. I can overlook that. I’m a fast reader so I can move past that. But, some of the characters in general, irked me.
Probably the biggest obstacle for me was Nesta, Feyre’s eldest sister. Talk about Bitch Queen. Someone pass her the crown and anoint this salty woman because she takes the cake! I instantly did not like her character or the way she was written. In A Court of Thorns and Roses, Nesta is a bitch for the sake of being a bitch. I guess the writer felt that someone needed to fill that role and Nesta rose her hand. I don’t know. But there was no backstory or understanding as to why. She has a horrible attitude, defends the middle sister but leaves her baby sis to fend for herself, and is just all around rude. There wasn’t a single scene that she was in where I didn’t go, yep, I’d punch her in the throat. Like, her attitude just didn’t sit right with me. But, despite all of that, she tried to cross the wall into Prythian and save her sister because Tamlin’s mind tricks didn’t work on her. Umm, what?! Where in the hell did that come from? How does that make any sense given what we know about the woman? Was this written this way simply to garner sympathy for the character? To make her not seem as cruel and harsh as she was written? Cause all it did was baffle me.
Now, another thing I just could NOT get past. Feyre’s need to leave Spring Court and get back to her family? Why?! Just why?! Tell me why that had to be a part of her journey? Who in their right mind would want to go back to a house where she was starving, her father was a useless pile of bones who had given up on life, Nesta was a cynic troll who never had a nice thing to say let alone lift a finger to help them not DIE, or Elain who was too dim-witted and simple to think there was anything wrong with the whole situation! Ok, rant over. But still!! Feyre tried endlessly to escape and get back to the mortal lands and for what?! They let you go! They didn’t fight for you and you still have some sense of obligation towards them? Even when Tamlin told you they were taken care of. NO! F that.
There was a lot of back and forth with Feyre’s character that made me wonder if the book was ever actually read over before published. A whole lot of redundancies that could have been avoided. For example, when Feyre was trying to escape Tamlin’s estate and get back to her family, afraid that they had starved. She spent chapters, and I do mean chapters, debating on if she should even be worried about them at all. So much time and endless words were spent on Feyre condemning her family but reliving some stupid promise she made to her dying mother (which had no relevance or made any sense to plot) about protecting her family. Hun, you were a damn child! And from what I gather your mother was just as bad, if not worse than Nesta! Nope! Move on! Yet, even when Tamlin assured her that they were taken care of. That he wouldn’t leave them to starve and die when she was their only means of survival. She still tried to leave! Like why? What in the world is waiting for you back at home? Not a damn thing that’s what. And by this point, she already has a budding, yet random, attraction to Tamlin, so why bother?
Now, I’m all about the romance. I can eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and then some. But, did anyone else feel like Tamlin’s I love you fell flat? He just said it, almost as in passing and Feyre didn’t even flinch. Like, woman! Say it back!! Why didn’t you? She didn’t even have an inkling, a single reaction of, hmmm, maybe I love him too. Nothing! And he says it a few times before he dumps her at her families door step and still nothing. Like, wow. Feyre. I don’t believe your love story.
But, my biggest pet peeve about this whole book, was the constant similarities to Holly Black’s A Modern Tale of Faerie series. The last half of the book, Feyre is under the Mountain in some nightmarish court that revels in torment and pain. (Just like the Unseelie Court) Then she shows up to save everyone, gets caught, dragged before Amarantha where Tamlin sits at her side, silent as ever, and declares her love for him. (Kinda like how Kaye did with Roiben) Now these similarities aren’t too bad. These are acts that are common in faerie novels. But this is where I really started to have the déjà vu. Feyre is before High C*** Queen (I can’t say the word because I despise it but she is the definition, so, moving on), declaring her love, and the woman is being stereotypically evil and sadistic. Got it, that’s her role in this and low and behold, she gives her a riddle. If she solves this riddle, the curse is broken and all can go free. Now, in my head, this is pretty similar to Kaye announcing her love before the Unseelie Court and Roiben gives her an impossible quest. A riddle. Maybe, its just me, but this book screamed A Modern Tale of Faerie series.
Now, given all the discrepancies and conundrums that made up this book, did I like it? Honestly, ya. It was a great distraction. I liked Feyre’s strength, even though it was a bit forced and obvious most of the time. Her emotions and reactions to everything around her felt grounded and real. I could feel her anxiety, fear, and hope. Especially Under the Mountain. It was tangible and gave me goosebumps. I liked Lucien in the last half of the book when he was her only real champion during her trials. Even when Tamlin stood by and did nothing. I loved the complexity of Rhysands character. He made the ending more interesting. I cried when she died. I rooted for Rhysand when he tried to fight Amarantha. I yelled at Tamlin that he was too late when he finally ripped her throat out.
All in all, this book was a 50/50 for me. I enjoyed it, but there were definitely issues with the plot and characters that irked me.
And that's the tea.