So, it’s been what, like eleven days or something, since I last reflected on a book from my past? That’s far too long. Let’s change that, shall we? It’s time for some retrospecting. (Yes, I know that’s not a real word.) (No, I don’t care.)
Reading Retrospectives are when I go back and reflect on books that I’ve read. Books that I have strong opinions on, but never reviewed because I read them before I even had a Goodreads (let alone a blog), and books from my childhood to my college days. Everything is fair game, honestly. If you’ve read the title, you know what this post’s gonna be about. If you haven’t, I’m reflecting on A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Here we go!
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses [Book #1]
Length: 432 pages
Genre: High Fantasy, Romance, New Adult
Release Date: May 5, 2015
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.
My Retrospective Review
When I Originally Read This: November 2015
Then: ★★★★✯ • 4.5 / 5 stars
Now: ★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars
“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”
ACOTAR. Oh, ACOTAR. The history that you and I have.
Gonna be perfectly honest here, before I caved in and started reading this, I had very strong aspirations to never do so. Like, I saw in my local Barnes & Noble in May or June of 2015, instantly could tell what type of “YA” book (the quotes are there, cuz hindsight) this was gonna be, and just… stayed away. Or attempted to, anyway.
In November of 2015, my strength failed me, and I caved into buying this book. And it was exactly like I knew it would be. YA with a “strong, female protagonist” who falls in a “passionate, fiery” love with some supernatural supermodel.
And I loved it.
Don’t get me wrong, it absolutely irritated me that I even started reading this in the first place. But, at the time, my soul wanted a guilty-pleasure-romance, so a guilty-pleasure-romance was what I read. And I liked it mostly in a guilty-pleasure sort of way. Not because I thought it was amazing literature or anything. Because, trust me, I didn’t.
“I came to claim the one I love.”
The characters were not very likeable, for one thing. Feyre was an annoying protagonist, who continually made stupid decisions; some of which, were extremely contrived. She was also quite bland, like a blank canvas, if I may incorporate one of Feyre’s “hobbies” into a simile.
And if Feyre was a blank canvas, then the love interest, Tamlin, was the material that a blank canvas is made out of. This man – sorry, “male” – was less than a block of wood, or even a sheet of paper. He honestly barely qualifies as a character, as he was mostly just a plot device to push Feyre to do something. Because, despite this book being over 400 pages, it becomes clear after a while, that at least 150 of them could have been cut. (Maas likes to overwrite and over-describe.)
“Do you ever stop being so serious and dull?”
“Do you ever stop being such a prick?” I snapped back.
Dead—really, truly, I should have been dead for that.
But Lucien grinned at me. “Much better.”
I’d get into more of the characters, but there really weren’t any. That really qualify as characters, at least. Lucien was probably the best of the almost characters. Actually, scratch that, he was the best. Even better than Feyre honestly. Throughout the novel, he and Feyre had way more chemistry than her and Tamlin, so I was kinda rooting for them as a couple for awhile. But we can’t have nice things, so I quickly gave up.
Feyre’s family were pretty much nonentities here (except for one tiny part later in the novel), they just existed as a motivation for her. Also, they sucked. Like, they were completely horrible to her. And, let’s not get into the “most handsome man [Feyre] had ever seen.” No, that’s going in the retrospective on ACOMAF, thank you very much. I’ll get to him though, I promise.
I’d mention the villain of the story, but the book isn’t really about that, so… yeah, just gonna leave this already long rant about the characters in this book here.
This book wasn’t all bad with the characters (barring Lucien), however. There were a few good lines and character moments nestled within some of the pages, that I wish we’d seen more of. Like this:
I found him carefully studying me, his lips in a thin line. “Has anyone ever taken care of you?” he asked quietly.
“No.” I’d long since stopped feeling sorry for myself about it.
“Because I wouldn’t want to die alone,” I said, and my voice wobbled as I looked at Tamlin again, forcing myself to meet his stare. “Because I’d want someone to hold my hand until the end, and awhile after that. That’s something everyone deserves, human or faerie.”
I actually really like the setting and the world building (that we get) a lot. I found it to be very interesting, even though it’s more than obvious that Maas just traced over a map of the U.K. and renamed it Prythian (and Hybern). The division of the “courts” was intriguing to me, and I wish that the series expanded on the way their hierarchies worked in a way that made sense more than it actually ended up being. (We’ll get to that, don’t worry. Just not in this review.) I also adored the magical atmosphere of the book, as well.
Despite… everything about ACOTAR, I will admit that I really enjoyed it. It was stupid fun – guilty-pleasure-romance, just as I said near the beginning. So I’ll take one thing that this book said, to heart:
“Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.”
Because if we don’t read what we enjoy, then what the hell are we doing with our limited free time on this planet? We should do things that bring us joy (within reason. I’m looking at you… people who do bad things.) and if they include reading not-that-great, but also, weirdly-addicting, fantasy romances, then we should just do that!
Have you read A Court of Thorns and Roses, or any of Sarah J Maas’ other novels? What did you think of them? What are your guilty-pleasure books? (I know you have at least one…) Thanks for reading, and see you again soon for more bookish things.