Book Review | A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas
Special welcome to Liselle, who is joining us today with a guest post! Liselle is the fantastic blogger behind Lunch-Time Librarian. Pop over there and say hi on behalf of Imaginary Book Club!
Going into a book with a lot of hype surrounding it is different from starting other books.
I hadn’t even read a summary of A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR) before I decided to read it. All I knew was that there’s a dude named Rhysand that everyone has their underwear in a bunch over. That and I had seen some very impressive fan art. It was enough to sell me, I was going to read this thing.
Imagine my surprise when this book is mostly about Feyre, a human girl brought to the faerie Spring Court and the High Lord of the court, Tamlin. Feyre (pronounced Fey-Ruh) is living with her family among the peasants after a fall from fortune and shouldering the burden of trying to provide for her less-than-helpful family. Tamlin is trying to protect his kingdom from The Blight, a mysterious force that threatens both faeries and humans alike. And through certain circumstances, they end up coming together.
And to my immense joy, they hate each other on sight.
Forget instalove, and bring on the instahate.
Something deep in my soul just compels me to root for people who so clearly don’t want to be in love. What does that say about my character? I don’t know. Beauty and the Beast isn’t even my favourite Disney movie. Whatever it is, I liked Feyre and Tamlin as a couple because of the slow way they moved from hostility to strained civility to making goo-goo eyes at each other and talking about heat between their legs. Well, Feyre talks about heat between her legs. Like. A significant amount. She also does a lot of fantasizing.
I don’t think I’ve ever related to a female character so much.
Plot wise, things move fairly slow. About a third of the way in I started to wonder if there was actually going to be any real conflict or just Feyre strutting around the castle painting all the time. But then the conflict makes itself known in a Hunger Games esque showdown. Except she’s the only participant and if she loses all sorts of people will die. Yay! This was the most exciting part of the book for me because it gave Feyre a chance to show how smart and utterly badass she can be. It’s also the time where Rhysand aka Rhys finally becomes more of a main character.
I have issues with Rhys. I know he’s witty and mysterious and dark and blah, blah, blah. But he also hurts Feyre when he gets annoyed with her, tricks her into an enslavement deal, makes her dress in scantily clad outfits, and then drugs her with fairy wine so she forgets being paraded around like a trained monkey. And yes, I understand that he does all this to project an image of toying with her so he can do things to help save her. I get that. But all it came off as was justified sexism. It’s okay that he treats her poorly because really it’s for her own good. Did that sound as terrible to you as it did to me?
I wanted Feyre to make it very clear to Rhys that even if he did help her in the end, the way he behaved was still wrong and unacceptable. And she does seem to wrestle somewhat between being grateful for the help and hating his methods. I’m positive I’ll come to love Rhys as a character, but I feel there’s a certain responsibility to a story to avoid justifying violence against women.
And I will say that in reading the second novel I’m satisfied so far with the way Feyre is sticking to her guns and is still furious with how Rhys treated her.
Does ACOTAR live up to the hype?
The latter half of the book, yes, without a doubt, despite having a predictable ending.
The first half is a little more catering to a slow-build romance than anything.
But once the book really gets into the plot and action it’s an imaginative and high paced fantasy.
Liselle is a Toronto-based writer and blogger at Lunch-Time Librarian. She has an enduring love for young adult fantasy books and a special thing for female-centric crime thrillers. When not reading or writing she spends her time tackling DIY projects and dreaming of living in a tiny house. You can find Liselle on twitter, facebook, and instagram.