As most of you will know by now, I had extra motivation to read A Court of Thorns and Roses because I was lucky enough to have my copy signed by the author herself back in May. It also helped that I was already familiar with the writing style and had really enjoyed Throne of Glass earlier this year. Then there was the beautiful bright red cover with its eye catching design, all of which culminated in me giving in to temptation and picking this book up.
I have dipped into fairytale retellings before and have thus far found them to be creative and exciting stories, so I was mostly in familiar territory with the genre of ‘ACOTAR’. I knew before I went into it that this novel was a retelling of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ but I was still pleasantly surprised by how original the concept was. The shapeshifting combined with the masks made for an interesting take on the ‘beast’ side of things, while the protagonist Feyre was clearly meant to be the ‘beauty’, although she is about as far removed from Belle as is possible to get.
Speaking of Feyre, I did like reading about how dedicated she was to Tamlin. This means that, as yet, there has been no love triangle to speak of which makes me ridiculously happy, because rarely have I encountered love triangles done well in literature. I expect there will be an opportunity for one to develop in the future but I would prefer it to remain just the two of them together. I found the realism of the couple’s relationship developing as it did over time to be far more believable than it would have been if Feyre had been lusting over two guys at once.
Now if there’s one thing Sarah J. Maas knows how to nail, it’s action. The writing style of ‘ACOTAR’ felt a bit hit and miss sometimes – with the character interactions coming off a tad forced now and again – yet I always found myself drawn into whatever was happening during the fight scenes. Maybe it was the way they filled me with tension, or the detail with which she describes the creatures, setting and weaponry. Whatever the reason I have never felt the need to skim passages like these and I can only hope this continues through all of her writing.
So I’m never normally one to have very strong opinions one way or another when it comes to which guy a girl should end up with, but on this occasion I broke my own rule because danm, I did not want anything to happen between Feyre and Rhysand! While the ending of the novel went some way to soften me towards his character it did not change my opinion about the wrongness of a relationship between the two of them. In my opinion the reasons behind his actions didn’t make his actions any less deplorable. This isn’t to say I’m opposed to them being friends, but I would be slightly concerned if things went any further than that.
Which leads us nicely into another of my questions; are we sure this book was meant to be Young Adult? Because you can dress it up with all the flowery metaphors you like – a sex scene is still a sex scene. And it comes out of nowhere! I wasn’t expecting it at all and personally, I don’t think the story really needed it. It all just sounded a bit lusty and primal rather than anything romantic, which sort of clashed with how Maas had been building Feyre and Tamlin’s relationship up until this point. Rather than portraying a passionate moment, some of the imagery made me cringe.
Now let’s talk about Feyre. As protagonists go, let us just say that Feyre will not be making my top ten. I was constantly drawing comparisons between her and Celaena that were just way too coincidental (her talent for killing, her refined, ladylike side, falling in love with the enemy), but the one similarity I wanted – a kick ass attitude – was missing. As a result Feyre often read as boring. And she made a lot of stupid decisions for someone smart enough to provide for her destitute family and solve a Faery Queen’s riddle. Not that she was the only one (I mean come on Tamlin, you’ve been trying to break a curse for centuries and then you give up with three days to go? Who does that?) but she screwed up the most frequently and seemingly never learned from her mistakes.
I definitely enjoyed reading A Court of Thorns and Roses, but I wouldn’t say it was as strong as Maas’ ‘Throne of Glass’ series. I’m giving it three stars, for the concept and the execution, but the characters left something to be desired. I do however have high hopes for the rest of the trilogy and wish to read on to see how the world expands.