A whole new level of garbage: A Court of Wings and Ruin Review

Synopsis: Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

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Review: 1/5

202.

That’s the number of times that the word “mate,” in any of its hellish forms, is used in this book.

TWO.

HUNDRED.

AND.

TWO.

That statistic alone should be enough to justify this one star rating. If you feel satisfied enough to just remove yourself from this review, run with that feeling. Because I have, like. Seven pages of sh*t to complain about.

That’s if I’m efficient.

And I’ve never been an efficient reviewer. Once. In my life. I counted two hundred (and two) uses of a word over seven hundred pages. That shouldn’t scream “rational and in control of her passionate fury” to you.

So buckle up, buttercup. We’ve got some categories to run through.

DISCLAIMER : This review is teeming with spoilers. It is also X-rated, due to the strength of my anger and the copious sex scenes in the source material.

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I HATE THESE CHARACTERS

Rhys makes me cringe harder than Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones’ Diary. (At least that movie has both Colin Firth and Hugh Grant to distract me from Renee viciously critiquing her own body and, like, spilling coffee all over herself or whatever.) He is capable of two actions, like a mildly impressive Ken doll: 1) sex person and 2) valiant hero trying to kill himself in the name of his friends constantly. Either he is full on f*cking Feyre (sick alliteration, Emma) or he must be actively prevented from jumping in front of poisoned weapons with the half-hearted motivation of Heroism To Save My Family (even if it’s not at all clear why doing this would save them, because whatever none of the plans in this book make a lick of sense anyway).

Because, as if this book weren’t fun enough, it rivals the Fast and the Furious franchise for use of the my-real-family-is-the-one-I-made-not-the-one-I-was-born-with cliché.

Like Rhys, Feyre also manages to find time in her packed schedule of sex scenes and repetitive dialogue to be incredibly, incontrovertibly dumb. For example, when she traps Ianthe and ties her up or whatever, she spends an unbelievable amount of time indulging an evil-villain-revenge rant. Just enough time for her to be CAUGHT BY THE DAEMATI (a Cassandra Clare-esque douchey term that pretty much means “species of bad guy,” to the best of my recollection). So much of this book was me silently screaming.

Speaking of the aforementioned schedule, it’s no wonder that that thing Feyre used to do called “painting” is dropped like a hot potato. She never does it, but it’s mentioned a handful of times in the beginning of the book. And then forgotten. And then, suddenly, almost at the merciful end of this suffering: “The movement so perfect that I knew I’d one day paint it.” We’re still pretending that Feyre paints? Between the same diverse selection of identical sex scenes, identical training scenes, identical war discussion scenes, I don’t think she has time for something so banal as a singular interest or hobby. Idk if we’ll have time; I think she’ll have to get to third base with Rhys in a perfumed bath later.

At least Feyre is brave and strong, though. Which is why she’s “too tired” to do anything after a loooong day of watching other people fight in a battle, followed by Mor winnowing her home. So courageous. How does she do it.

Plus, she’s a brilliant friend. Which is why, when Morrigan confronts her for lying, leaving, making her and everyone else fear she has died and also making Mor responsible for it, Feyre’s response is “OH YA??? WELL YOU HAVE A CRUSH ON AZRIEL.”

Truly a depiction of a powerful woman for the ages.

And I don’t get Lucien’s appeal. Do we like him out of the same reason we like Draco? (I’m saying “we” as if I like either of those characters.) Is it an omg-he’s-just-trying-to-do-right-he-didn’t-know-any-better type situation? Because Draco is a child trying to impress a father who doesn’t love him and I still don’t totally buy that. I’m still not a Draco fan. And Tamlin is not Lucien’s daddy, although…maybe a more interesting book if he were.

Cassian and Azriel are both flat and boring. Amren is characterized so inconsistently that it’s impossible for me to know whether I like her or not. (I’m going to say “not” – seems like a safer bet.) Nesta is almost cool, but the whole I Am Mean And Hard And Damaged thing goes too far. And Elain just floats around and lets things happen to her.

Morrigan, never all that interesting, now just represents the worst bisexuality rep I’ve ever read.

It’s never a good sign when you’re praying for characters to die in battle just so you can catch a f*cking break.

But guess what. None of them do.

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THE WRITING SUCKS, ON BOTH A COPYEDITING AND SUBSTANTIVE LEVEL

I truly believe that whatever team of sad sacks was assigned to copyedit this book was physically unable to attentively read it. And I cannot blame them. But it does allow for some hilarious mistakes to make it through these dull, dull pages.

Example: “She did not avert her eyes from the Morrigan.” That pesky “the” makes her seem like a pro wrestler, or someone with a fun nickname, rather than the personification of the worst bi rep ever to grace young adult pages. But we’ll get to that.

There are so many ellipses and dashes and italicizations and…other – ways: of breaking up the TEXT that it actually gave me motion sickness. On top of everything else this book has made me suffer through.

Maybe if a copyeditor had found the strength to make it through this book, they could have stopped the way SJM insists on using the term “Hybern.” IT MEANS SO MANY THINGS. “Hybern” is used as the nomer of the evil king, the word for his people, the name of his kingdom, and the title of the land it’s situated on. That is just…basic bad worldbuilding, no?

Also, a monster creature thing described as having no eyelids narrows its eyes. This inspired a fifteen minute long discussion with my roommates on whether eyes can narrow without eyelids. We came to a unanimous consensus: no, they cannot.

Also, as Val pointed out in her amazing review of this book, the words “vulgar gesture” are used over. And over. And over again. WHAT DO THESE USES MEAN. WHY DO THEY CONSTANTLY INSPIRE LAUGHTER IN WHATEVER GLORIFIED PROP CHARACTER WHO HAPPENS TO BE NEARBY. IS THIS TACTIC SUPPOSED TO REPLACE ACTUAL JOKES OR BANTER? Because it doesn’t. It just makes me angry, and also confused, which makes me even angrier.

And who thought that was even possible.

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WHAT IS THIS ATTEMPT AT HIGH FANTASY LANGUAGE

Except then, y’know, Rhys and Feyre and the Gang are also so hip and cool and up to date that this book uses the word “fuckable,” a word so slang-y that my laptop recognizes it as a typo for “suckable” or “faceable,” whatever the hell those words are.

Otherwise, the only other remarkable attempt at making this any different from the way humans speak in 2017: the use of the word “male.”

Women are sometimes called “females” in this, but are also called women and girls and whatnot. Men, on the other hand, are absolutely only called males. There’s an amazing moment when SJM refers to Rhys as a man, and then instantly, like, corrects herself. So it reads on the page as “man – male -”

It makes no sense. I love it.

It’s truly the little things.

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THE END OF THIS BOOK IS JUST A LISTING OF CLICHES

As the war we’ve waited for finally arrives, and so does the time for motivational speeches and tragic goodbyes and other things that fail to make me feel something, SJM loses it entirely.

Nearly every line of dialogue in this section is just a cliché, and so I will copy and paste them here, for your perusal and accompanying amusement.

“Leave this world…a better place than how you found it.”

“One life may change the world.”

“I believe everything happens for a reason.”

“It is the family you make, not the one you are born into, that matters.”

“Light can be found even in the darkest of hells.”

“The great joy and honor of my life has been to know you.”

“I wasn’t sure if in the entire history of Illyria, there had ever been such a discussion.”

So bad. And, therefore, so good.

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LET’S LAUGH AT DUMB THINGS

The moments when this may or may not be attempting to instill some sort of entertainment or amusement in its reader do not work at all. Luckily, we have something much better: Really dumb stuff. It is much more fun (and nourishing to the very soul, like a bowl of chicken soup – so pretty much the series of books “Chicken Soup for the Soul”) to laugh at something unintentional and dumb than it is to laugh at a cheap joke. This is why the show America’s Funniest Home Videos has been on for twenty-eight seasons, and like a thousand interchangeable bad sitcoms are canceled every year.

For example, this passage. Feyre and Rhysand are apart, blah blah blah, it’s the tragedy of the century (or millennium, since these boring ass people live for infinity, because there is no justice in this world). Unsurprisingly, they use their mind control powers for a saintly motivation: sexting. Which is already so hilarious. But it gets even better, because:

“I sent back an image of me sticking out my tongue at him.

My clothes were back on when his answer arrived.

Like mine, it was wordless, a mere image. Like mine, Rhysand’s tongue was out.

But it was occupied with doing something else.”

I choose to interpret this statement the same way a middle schooler interprets the existence of performer Marilyn Manson based on a shady rumor he once heard about a surgery to remove three ribs. I believe that this is incontrovertible evidence that Rhysand can suck his own d*ck. WHAT ELSE COULD HE POSSIBLY BE DOING. WHAT COULD IT POSSIBLY BE OCCUPIED WITH. SJM I JUST WANNA TALK.

But just as often as I was making myself laugh by making Rhys my YA fantasy version of Marilyn Manson, I was being equally amused by seemingly innocuous lines. Like when Eris, scary villain/abuser extraordinaire, was bidding The Night Gang adieu and said, “See you at the meeting in twelve days.” I MEAN. WHAT. WHO SPEAKS LIKE THAT. Even dialogue is just an opportunity to force an info dump. You guys, seriously: this book is so poorly written.

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LET’S SCREAM ABOUT DUMB THINGS

Sometimes, or most of the time depending on how you look at it, I do not want to laugh at the dumb things. Sometimes I am incapable of it, because this book is an ungodly length and so much of it is long-term stupidity.

Chapter 45, for example. Or, as I like to call it, “That Meeting in Twelve Days Finally Happens.” Yes, this book is so boring that we are expected to anticipate an actual, literal meeting. Sure, it’s a meeting between high lords to talk about war, but it’s still a sit-down political discussion. And also it’s just the same endless repetitive cycle of insult dialogue feat. fun moments of The Night Gang being the least convincing people on the entirety of the Earth.

There’s an especially great moment in that adrenaline-inducing conference. For the 8,000 pages leading up to it, Rhys is all, “Ok, Feyre. Listen up. Number one thing – just don’t show your powers, k? Long story short the Powerful Men are going to get pissy and then…well y’know these negotiations are the most important thing to happen in hundreds of years, which I should know because I’ve been alive for that long, even though you’re, what, fresh outta adolescence? Anyway just the only thing you should do is not show your powers.” To which Feyre’s response is, “Got it. *shows powers instantly*”

YES. Feyre shows her powers at the meeting!! So quickly!!! She doesn’t even try all that hard, and, as promised, it almost derails the nonstop excitement of this much-anticipated civilized forum! Almost. Except then everything works out, as it always does, by Feyre saying something totally normal, 6/10 at best, and everyone being like “wow omg…who is this girl…she is so smart and brave and honest and we respect her so much” so that Rhys can be like “that’s my mate lol.”

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IRRELEVANT COMPLAINING

The only way to make the experience of reading a deeply unpleasant, extremely long book worse is to publish that book with goddamn tissue paper pages. This was like reading the Bible but without the action. And with a whole lot more smut.

I’m tucking this quote in this section too, because I don’t know if I’m being persnickety, but at one point, it’s said that “Only a madman would wield the might of his army just to get revenge on three women.” And my question is, why use the word “women”? Why not “people”? Is it more insane if it’s women? Why is that? TELL ME WHY. REALLY I JUST WANNA TALK.

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PLOTLINE? WHAT PLOTLINE

This book is just…so boring.

There are countless info dumps, which, I mean. There’s no excuse for that in a third book. This was going to be the last book in the series, when there was still hope in the world and I prayed that somehow SJM actually was writing these books for some sort of artistic fulfillment rather than money. How, I ask you, would there still be so much sh*tty worldbuilding in the last book in a series?

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OH YES, THIS BOOK IS DEFINITELY WOKE AND NOT THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE OF THAT ENTIRELY

SJM has been getting a lot of sh*t lately for her white/straight/cis narratives. So it’s no surprise that she would try to get those pesky activists off her back this time. Unfortunately, she does a remarkably bad job.

This book is all straight people except for LGBT+ relationships based on sex alone, or in an unequal relationship wherein one person has authority over another. (Examples: a high lord whose bisexuality extends purely to the fact that he’s into threesomes; a military captain dating his high lord/commander/boss.)

Plus, there’s bisexual rep so terrible it took me hours to make it through a handful of pages. But that gets a category of its own.

I also shouldn’t be surprised at the redemption of abusers in this book. Because Tamlin, in ACOTAR, was just a Nice Guy. Fine. But the fangirls loved a certain bad boy guest star with purple eyes. So, instead of creating a love triangle or transitioning between love interests like a normal person, SJM made him into an actual abuser. A villain.

That’s also fine. But you can’t just redeem him like you could redeem the unloved side of a love triangle. Because you made him into a genuinely bad person.

Unfortunately, SJM must have missed that memo. She must have missed it three times, actually, because Eris also gets redemption (and a throne!). As does his enabler brother, Lucien. Wonderful. Abuse apologists for the win.

But this book is totally, definitely feminist, right??? I mean, female protagonist! War plotline! It must be, by default! So when Cassian says“I told you that the moment we started letting females into our group, they’d be nothing but trouble”, and woke king Rhys responds, “You actually said you needed a reprieve from staring at our ugly faces, and that some ladieswould add some much needed prettiness for you to look at all day.” it’s totally fine!

So it’s an utter shock that this narrative also lives nearly entirely within the bounds of gender roles. Reading about men (Rhys, Cassian, Azriel, all the high lords) fighting in battle while the women (Feyre, Mor, Elain, Nesta, Cresseida) watch and tend to the wounded later is so refreshing. Doesn’t make me want to blow my brains out at all.

And no, Mor being assigned to babysit Feyre later on, only heading into battle because Feyre tricks her into fighting so she can sneak away, does not make it better, thanks.

This is definitely, certainly the feminist YA fantasy you’ve been waiting for, folks.

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THE WORST BI REP EVER TO HIT THE SHELVES, WHICH IS INSANE BECAUSE WHEN IS THERE E V E R GOOD BI REP

But I haven’t mentioned the most unforgivable thing yet. The thing that made this book my first SJM one-star, after giving every other book I’ve read by her two stars. The thing that actually made me feel real hatred and fury and, worst of all, sadness.

Truly, the worst bisexual representation I have ever read comes in the final chapters of this book. I’ve read a lot of bad bisexual rep. And it’s endlessly upsetting. But none of it felt quite like this.

Apparently, Sarah J. Maas decided in the third book that she wanted to stop getting sh*t for her heteronormativity. So she decided to take a character who had been established as straight, and make her bi.

So she took this character, Morrigan. She makes Morrigan cry. She writes Morrigan’s impassioned speech to Feyre. This is Morrigan’s coming out, for the first time. Morrigan says that she prefers women. To the point that she is only capable of feeling romantic love for a women.

But occasionally, she will force herself to sleep with a man. In order “to keep people from looking too closely.” Instead of telling the man who has been in love with her for centuries that she doesn’t love him back, won’t ever love him back, she forces herself to sleep with men when he’ll know that she’s done it, so that she still seems straight but he’ll know she doesn’t love him.

And the author dubs it bisexuality.

I hate that she felt entitled to use this underrepresented, misunderstood sexuality as a playing piece in her own quest to be well-liked. I hate that the hundreds of thousands of people who read this book have been given this depiction of bisexuality. And I hate that Sarah J. Maas will keep writing wildly successful books. Books in this very series, depicting this character in this way and calling it “bisexuality.”

It’s unfair. It’s awful. And I am never, never, never going to forget that it happened.

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Bottom line: I didn’t expect to like this book. But I also didn’t expect it would become one of my least favorite books I’ve ever read.

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Have you read A Court of Wings and Ruin? What did you think?

Sarah J. Maas: Fan, or not a fan?

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92 thoughts on “A whole new level of garbage: A Court of Wings and Ruin Review

    • Donna Reynolds says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am nearly done reading ACOMAF right now and was debating picking up the 3rd to see how things unfold, but I think I’ll avoid it. ACOTAR was mediocre, but I heard that book 2 was to die for. I will say that it is exponentially better with respect to plot and word building than book 1. But I was so angry with the irresponsible handling of Tamlin’s character that I didn’t know if I could continue. It was clearly done so that we wouldn’t think less of Feyre for dumping him after a couple of months when she’d sworn she’d love him for a lifetime. I found that to be the most nonsensical piece of all. It would’ve been one thing if Feyre would’ve just gone her separate way from Tamlin and felt sad for hurting him. I honestly think she and Rhys have better chemistry and are a better fit. But turning Tamlin into a dark villain just to vindicate Feyre was such a stretch of his character and so incredibly cheap. Like, at that point, ACOTAR is just in the way of the rest of the series rather than building up to it. It’s like she slammed on the brakes and did a 180 to appease the audience. Clearly it gets no better in book 3. Thanks for the heads up!

      Liked by 1 person

      • emmareadstoomuch says:

        OMG OMG OMG OMG this is my favorite comment ever. you put it so beautifully! i agree that Feyre and Rhys were a better match in the long run, and i wouldn’t have thought twice if SJM had Feyre make the switch from Tamlin to Rhys, except that she completely destroyed Tamlin’s character in order to do so! & completely destroyed her credibility as a writer for me in the process.

        Like

  1. howlsmovinglibrary says:

    This is a thing of beauty. Thank you for counting the number of instances of “mate” so we didn’t have to!!

    I also wrote a rambly thing – http://howlsmovinglibrary.tumblr.com/post/160334167486/so-i-finished-acowar (if you like reading SJM rants, which it seems like you might!!)

    It pretty much covers all the same points, but my main ones to add are:

    – THE ENDING IS SO NEAT?? Like, there are no consequences to winning this massive humongous battle. SJM literally allows Feyre to release three death bringing beasts on the enemy, and there are ***no reprecussions**. because all of them die save the *one* death bringing beast that didn’t want to keep bringing death after the battle? what kind of shit writing is this?

    – Male abusers get rehabilitated left right and centre (which is not ok) but female abusers are absolutely demonised and all get graphically violent deaths. Demonise all your abusers, SJM, rather than creating the worst kind of awful misogynistic double standard that I don’t know how to unpick.

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      THANK YOU SO MUCH.

      omg omg i’m totally going to read your rant b/c so true on the ending but the abuser double standard?? you’re so right! i didn’t really pick up on that but like. holy sh*t. it’s fully “a man can abuse a woman and just be making a mistake or Too In Love but a woman abusing a man???? a witch. a monster. we will kill her gruesomely and fantasize about her time in hell”

      Like

  2. Bentley ★ BookBastion.net says:

    I was selective with what I read in this review as I’m reading ACOTAR right now and don’t want to get spoiled – but reviews like this are exactly why I’m so wary about reading this series at all. It boggles my mind that such poor writing not only gets published, but becomes wildly popular too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      ooh yeah this is spoiler central but i so agree! acotar is probably the least problematic of the three books so i hope it’s working for you somewhat?? either way i’m looking forward to your thoughts

      Liked by 1 person

  3. beth | fuelledbyfiction says:

    I only read the first book in this series, and then decided I was not going to read any more books by her. I don’t really remember the exact reasons why, but I do remember ACOTAR felt a little rapey at times. I’m definitely glad I didn’t invest any further into the series lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      ACOTAR is definitely a little rapey, and also boring – two problems which only get worse as the series goes on. really good call not to read more of her stuff

      Like

  4. Sahi says:

    So, I’m the one with the unpopular opinion in your comments section coz I actually like SJM’s books and am a huge fan of Throne of Glass…
    However, I loved your review and in hindsight, there is nothing that you have written which I don’t agree with… I guess I’m too much of a superficial reader to not notice all these issues…
    Your writing style is hilarious and made me laugh out loud so much!!!!
    Can’t wait to read more such amazing analysis from you..

    Liked by 2 people

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      hahaha thank you so much!! i don’t think there’s anything wrong with liking SJM, she just doesn’t really do it for me. and in this case is lowkey problematic. but overall i get the appeal

      Liked by 1 person

    • Isabel Waugh says:

      Have you even read the book? Because I am not so sure you understand it. I’m sorry but I don’t think it’s okay to talk shit about people for writing about different things that the ones you’re used to in YA (for example, what is wrong with smut? And how are the characters boring?) and I also have a question. If you were to write a fantasy book would you do something better? Would you create accurate bi rep and interesting characters while also surprising people with your plot? As an LGBT writer myself I can tell you that is not an easy thing. Everybody can talk shit about authors but really few of these people could actually do what those authors do.

      Like

      • emmareadstoomuch says:

        Isabel, light of my life, joy of my existence: i’m allowed to not like a book even if i haven’t written one. you are also allowed to like this book and, in the shocker of the century, your opinion will still not be any more valid than mine. glad you liked this book! i would never try to take your right to like it away from you!

        Like

  5. Kateri Ransom says:

    So sad, really. I remember when she was doing her fanfic thing. I wasn’t following her there but my bf was and she got me excited about her impending publication. And I did really enjoy the first three books of the Throne of Glass series but it’s started to consistently fall off from there for me. All these things you mention are so disheartening. And I totally see the trend in her writing. OMG I despise her sex scenes and the way she oversexualizes certain characters when they go there, even if it doesn’t fit their character. It’s like she can only write one type of sex scene and one type of “strong female heroine.” I feel like as soon as she introduces a new female character I know pretty much how their character arc, and impending sexual awakening, is going to play out. In fact, one booktuber (I think it was Matthew Sciarappa??) said she can only write female characters either fucking broken or fucking mad, or something along those lines.
    …if it makes you feel better I just discovered your blog! Happy to be here regardless. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      oh my god the “fucking broken or fucking mad” line…so true. all of her female characters are So formulaic. there was some really promising stuff with her – the main character in throne of glass being girly AND badass! feyre’s PTSD in ACOMAF! – but ultimately she just dissolved into this slog of repetitive writing and sex scenes. so sad, indeed.

      lol welcome to the book complaining hellhole!

      Like

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      rant reviews are completely the most fun to write and the most fun to read. yeah a lot of it is just personal preference but that mor part…damn

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Gosh, Emma, this is a crazy amazing review! I’m not sure where my head was when I first read ACOTAR, but when I finished the series, I kind of liked it? But then when I stepped back and thought about it (and read other, better books) I realized how kind of terrible it all was. I am SO TIRED of all the mate stuff. Just done with it. And the plot was so muddled. And Hybern and the entire magic system makes no sense. Absolute no sense.
    And the bisexual rep made me so mad. Morrigan is probably my favorite character, I felt like she actually went through and overcame the most abuse, and was so fierce, beautiful and independent. And then Maas made her a weird mess? It felt so cheap and so exploitive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      thank you thank you!
      i feel the same way, but about ACOMAF!! i’m not sure what was goin on but i five starred it the first time i read it, only to reread and be like…wtf?
      the sloppiness of the worldbuilding on top of everything else was just too much to bear. like to be confusing AND boring AND lazy? too much.
      someone in an earlier comment pointed out that SJM seems to only know how to write 1 kind of female protagonist, and it seems like Mor could have been different, but then…no. just bad.

      Like

  7. Claire @bookscoffeeandrepeat says:

    I agree with your review! I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed the inconsistency of Amren’s character. Also, I never liked Nesta. I don’t understand why Feyre had to apologize to her. I dislike her so much to the point that I was upset that she had to be in ACOMAF and turned into fae. LOL. I didn’t really like ACOWAR tbh. I’m not sure if I’m even going to read the novellas. Probably not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      this book is where the SJM journey ends for me. i purely cannot go on – it’s too much. this book took me 8 months to read or something ridiculous.
      the amren and nesta things aren’t talked about nearly enough!! glad i’m not the only one

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Chaos Fae says:

    This is probably the most entertaining review I’ve ever read and I’m going to quote the part that made me laugh out loud ‘Except then, y’know, Rhys and Feyre and the Gang are also so hip and cool and up to date that this book uses the word “fuckable,” a word so slang-y that my laptop recognizes it as a typo for “suckable” or “faceable,” whatever the hell those words are.’

    I hated the first book and I would never waste my time reading SJM’s other books (although I did enjoy Throne of Glass 1) after reading that one because it was just so bad I literally said ‘This is the kind of book you read if you want to know how to not write a book’.

    Thanks for making me laugh ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      ahh thank you thank you!!! yeah this book was insaaaaanely bad, which made writing the review extremely fun but also made reading the book a garbage fest hellscape that took 8 months or something

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chaos Fae says:

        hahaha seriously? I would’ve quit on it if it took me that long to read it. It’s just a pure waste of time and I really don’t understand why so many people love it

        Like

  9. Cam @ Camillea Reads says:

    I’ve heard a few complaints about this series but with everyone loving it so much, I was confused. Thank you for laying it all out on the table! First, I was dubious about picking up this book & now I’m certain I won’t ever! Since this review is for the third book in the series, did you feel the same about book 1 and 2?

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      book 1 was kinda boring but meh, a little promising. book 2 is the one i understand liking the most – there’s a lot of guilty pleasure-y potentially fun stuff but ultimately it didn’t work for me. book 3 is where the sh*t realllyyyyy hit the fan imo

      Like

  10. Shreya Madhusudan says:

    This is definitely the BEST book review I’ve ever read. No doubt.
    I haven’t actually read any of SJM’s books but I was planning on it, since they’re so wildly popular. But if her other books are anything like this the nooo I don’t want to read them.
    Also when you mentioned the horrible bisexual rep it turned me off even more. And the feminist thing! Honestly, any YA genre book with a female protagonist and war is considered feminist!
    Great review, Emma!😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      oh my god wow thank you so much???

      you can always give Throne of Glass a try, and even the first two books in this series weren’t the flaming garbage heap that this one is. but i am Not a SJM fan.

      EXACTLY on the war + girl = feminist thing. so frustrating! A Darker Shade of Magic is kind of the same way. and don’t even get me started on the bi rep

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Emma says:

    I finished ACOWAR a few weeks ago and I have a lot of the same opinions as you, but I still to gave it 4 stars for the emotional impact it had on me (i was in tears by the end) and how much I enjoyed all the plot twists and political drama, however you are making me rethink that rating. I don’t think I am ever going to hate this book as much as you seem to, but I think I love to hate Sarah J Maas’s books. I read them KNOWING I am going to have sooooo much to complain about, but I enjoy the drama and the tension, and I actually like some of her side characters. I think she can write good set ups and is good at creating an emotional response in the moment.

    In terms of things I agreed with you on: I can’t help but really dislike Rhys because I find it really hard to like characters who don’t have some form of weakness (i’m a sucker for an underdog and you just know Rhys is going to win every time so where’s the fun?). The writing was horrible, and I can’t tell if this book was worse than all her others or if it had just been a while so I noticed it more. I rolled my eyes pretty much the whole time. Something you didn’t mention which is actually my least favorite thing about Sarah J Maas’s books, is the whole message she pushes of the heteronormative soul mate. It’s made suuuuper obvious in this book with the whole mating bond thing (ew) but even in her other series she seems impossible of having a character without some sort of strong romance subplot. All her characters end up paired off, and honestly ACOWAR surprised me that there were some characters left unpaired up, but I think that can be chalked up to her still trying to spin another three books out of these characters when she really should have just stopped there.

    Speaking of the ending; it was far to easy on them, someone should have actually died. It was the sort of ending that was amazing when you read it but looking back made no sense?? I think Sarah J Maas gets too attached to her own characters so can’t kill them off which is understandable I guess, but shouldn’t her agent talk to her?? and fix it?? That kind of ties in to her inability to have any of the “bad” characters left unredeemed by the end of the book. And yeah the attempts at diversity the author made in this book are a mess, she tried to make them “unique” and “cool” but someone’s sexuality isn’t a plot device for you to use??? I was personally more bothered by Helion’s bisexuality and the impliance that he prefered to sleep with both genders at once??? what??? And I took Mor’s whole thing as she was actually a lesbian character but that only in the sense that the reader would never see it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      wow you are so so so right about the heteronormative Big Romance destiny thing!! i think i’m so adjusted to it with YA that i just don’t even notice it as being specific to her y’know? like even books i like more (illuminae series, the lunar chronicles) have this insane thing of pairing off literally every character in a heterosexual endgame relationship. it’s fully wild.

      helion’s bi rep was so problematic too! clearly SJM doesn’t understand bisexuality at all and no one involved gave enough of a sh*t to hand the book to a sensitivity reader.

      you’re probably right about her being unable to not redeem the characters for the same reason she can’t kill any of them. maybe i’m a psycho, but i feel like if no one dies, the stakes weren’t really that high anyway. and after everything leading up to the war (hundreds and hundreds of pages) i was pretty hard to impress.

      but i think as far as wanting fun/kinda sometimes trashy YA fantasy goes, SJM is not a bad option. definitely prolific

      Liked by 1 person

      • Emma says:

        The “everyone must be paired off” mentality is definitely present elsewhere but I feel like it makes some sort of sense there? like there was romantic history between all of the pairs in the illuminae files to some extent, and the lunar chronicles are fairytale retelling so I kind of expected it, I just find that Sarah J Maas forces characters together when there isn’t any tension, or when they could just as easily have remained friends.

        Yes exactly! if no one dies it’s as if there wasn’t even that big of a threat, especially considering how much she played up the villains in this series. She raises the stakes so high, only for them to mean nothing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • emmareadstoomuch says:

        that’s a good point. i definitely get it for the lunar chronicles, what with the fairytaley-ness. it still bugs me a little with illuminae (a lot of those people could DEFINITELY have remained friends) but it’s a whole new level with SJM

        hundreds of pages of leadup only for a few dozen pages of battle and then a happy friendship ending!!!! so wild

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Marta says:

    😂😂😂 I love this review so much, it was so funny and ranty and just what I needed. I haven’t liked SJM ever since The Heir of Fire incident because it was clear she got into this fae frenzy and nothing (the plot, LOGIC) would ever matter again to her. I haven’t read this other series because it sounded even more cringey. I don’t regret my decision, I’m actually relieved after reading your review because I don’t think I’d have been able to go through those ridiculous sex scenes. I lol’ed so hard when you added that sexting part 😶
    And I’m really not surprised at that awful bi rep because it’s kind of obvious that SJM does that only to stop being criticized. It would have been way better if she kept writing her white cis characters 😑

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      thaaaaank you!!! is the heir of fire incident just throne of glass becoming super fae-y?? i’ve heard a bunch of times that throne of glass ends up just, like, becoming a court of thorns and roses

      the sex scenes in this series…just the worst. so bad. so hard to get through. & yeah if she was going to insert problematic rep just to avoid criticism it is kind of like…stick to what you know lady, or actually put in effort maybe???

      Like

  13. Ellyn says:

    God damn, that’s a long review, Emma! I’ll be honest *don’t hate me* I didn’t read the whole thing, mainly because I don’t know any of these characters and also have never cared about a single SJM book.
    But, I read your last category where you talked about the bi rep and istg Emma I am fuming. I knew her diversity rep was bad but I didn’t know specifics and you weren’t about to catch me reading this trash heap of a trilogy to find out. But, oh boy, now that I know I swear I am SO MAD. Literally, I just put my laptop down, paced around the house and came back 5 minutes later to finish my comment. I don’t know how you managed to write this review without storming around your home for hours on end, I would’ve been a mess (much like this book, it seems). Anyway… long comment short… I loved your review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      i am wildly impressed that you read even bits of this incoherent rant. it is the longest review i have ever written, and literally my reviews are never short.

      i have actually never been madder than i was during the bi rep of it all. reading the dozenish pages that cover it took me TWO HOURS. i kept stopping and pacing and yelling about it to everyone around me. so much bi rep is so problematic but this is a whoooooole new level.

      thank you sm ❤ ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ally Writes Things says:

    This is one of my favourite reviews I’ve ever read! I haven’t read these books, and I was totally planning to because everyone seems to love it. But reading reviews like yours definitely makes me see that it’s 100% not for me. Also that bi thing is really shitty. Like… forcing yourself to sleep with men isn’t bisexuality? It’s most likely internalized homophobia or something else???

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      EXACTLY. the only way that SJM could have reasonably included a forcing-yourself-to-sleep-with-men plotline is through careful examination and exploration of that character. which is, of course, the opposite of what happened.

      thank you so much!!! i would recommend avoiding the hell out of these books

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Cait @ Paper Fury says:

    THIS WAS SO BEAUTIFUL AND THERAPEUTIC OMG. The salt! The roasts! I’m in aweeee, you are the best.😂😂😂 So I totally haven’t read this, but I read ACOTAR and hated it so much I ate a brick wall. I’m like sworn off SJM. I hate how she does minorities…it’s like she just has no idea. Possibly research + sensitivity readers would help this buuut what do I know. (Also bad lgbtqia rep is worse than NONE?!?) And the sexism is also a reason I puke and run away. It was in all her other books and I’m just done. It’s 2018 already. Please.

    Anyway, I just really enjoyed reading this.😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      OMG I AM BLUSHING SO HARD

      THE QUEEN OF BLOGGING LIKED MY REVIEW

      thaaaaaank you!!! the way she does minorities is just the worst – like she’s trying to get credit for being diverse but with none of the sensitivity or actual motivation??? it’s so cruel. like to write mildly bad smutty fantasy is one thing, but to make a mockery of people’s existences??? no thank you!!!

      thank you so much omg writing this review was the equivalent of speaking to a therapist for hours about the damage sjm has caused me

      Like

  16. okaylib says:

    I’ve never read any of Sarah J. Mass’ books but I found this review both extremely entertaining yet also somewhat soul crushing. I’m glad to know I should probably steer away from these books but it’s also such a shame that the reason why is largely due to harmful misrepresentation. I’m a strong believer in the fact that if one doesn’t really know what they’re talking about, no representation is better than completely butchering it.

    Thank you for bringing issues like these to light, I think it’s incredibly important for people who may otherwise be unaware to see that this is still a problem. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      thank you so much! yeah i love writing negative reviews usually because they’re fun, and it’s a good way to relieve mild irritation, but this was a whole new thing. this was actually like “this is unbelievably problematic and people need to know.” thank you again!!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Paige Dunmore says:

    I’m probably the only one who would go against this review, and say you’re wrong with half of the things. But i won’t get into it because you’ll just sit there and say i’m wrong even though all it takes is someone who’s gone through the same shit that feyre, rhys & the inner circle have gone through. And for one comment above saying that ACOTAR ‘felt’ too rapey at times, think twice BEFORE saying that awful word, because that DOES hurt rape victims (i’m one, and bore a daughter from it, so yes it hurt me because I did not see anything that could lead to rape in ACOTAR.) I’m also a abuse victim too so, i would highly disagree with you Emma, but that’s how it is.

    Like

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      hey paige! you’re not the only one who would go against this review. this book has a very high average rating and this is a really unpopular opinion.

      your feelings on this book are valid! pretty sure i say something similar about 100 times in this review. please feel free to write your own uber positive review and argue against the things i said here, but my thoughts are valid too!

      i’m sorry for what you’ve gone through, and you’re entitled to disagree with my definition of abuse, but i still think that the relationships in this book tend abusive.

      again, i hope you write a review or have written one in order to express your opinion! but i’m not “wrong with half of the things.” it’s a book. we can all have different opinions on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. bookwormmuse says:

    You know what? I had been wavering between reading SJM books or not and I have seen some really loyal fans and some reviews that say something entirely different. However, I hadn’t read any review where it specified that she uses terms like ‘male’ and ‘female’ instead of women, girls or men and boys. What the actual hell? And it seems to have a lot of other problems that frankly, I do not want to read about. So, thank you for this truly. I almost bought the first book back in July but something stopped me, my inner bookish antenna must work well.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jheelam says:

    “Rhysand can suck his own d*ck.”- I.Just.Died.Laughing. Your review should be archived for the posterity, who would not be into blogging. 😀 Sarah J. Maas is the singular reason I took a break from reading YA fantasy to purge *it* away.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. mariez says:

    THANK YOU for writing this. I could hardly even get through this book. SJM’s prose is banal, the plot is boring and mishandled, and it seems as if zero effort was put forth in crafting the characters, who are one-dimensional and grating. The inconsistencies and anachronistic elements make it all the worse. I am a non-fan for sure, and glad to find a group here who don’t gush over this sad series.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Sav Chan says:

    Oh man this review had me in stitches! It was such a fun read and you made so many great points! I’m glad someone else was yelling angrily about this book like how I wanted to do after I finished reading it. This was the first time that I found myself critiquing a book series as I read it, which was even more surprising as the reason that I picked it up in the first place was because it was so incredibly popular. I just had so many problems with this book that I could not get over, all of which you listed off. Especially how the Tamlin storyline was handled and also how selfish and petty Feyre is and that we are stuck in her head the whole time so we can’t even escape her idiotic inner dialogue. The amount of times she adoringly refers to Rhys as the most powerful highlord in history is just ew!?

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      THANK YOU! the one thing i will never understand about the love for this series is how…no one sees how sloppily the Tamlin thing was handled? like, SJM so clearly did not have this series plotted out even a little bit even at all.

      Like

  22. amithi says:

    I’m late, I know… Just read one of your reviews on Goodreads (already forgot the title, it was the one about the Prince-killing Siren, I think) and followed a link to your blog.

    I’m so happy I found this review, it looks like Mass hits a lot of my hot button topics, the main one being inconsistent and unbelievable character development
    .
    I’m always a bit leery when it comes to wildy popular book series (especially if it’s soccer moms praising YA fantasy to high heaven), ever since I tried to read the Twilight series and gave up in disgust after 50 pages or so. Unfortunately that series was recommended by my ex-sister in law (different reason for the ex) and since she devoured the whole series and the movies, family dinners were a bit strained whenever the topic came up. Thankfully my brother got a divorce before 50 Shades came out… ;D
    A Court of Thorns and Roses was recommended by a friend who usually does not read fantasy – I’ll skip the books and save the friendship, thank you very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • emmareadstoomuch says:

      am fully laughing at the merciful pre-50 Shades divorce. also, the idea of a friend recommending this book and you having to pass on it to save the friendship = the root of my biggest fear. i am completely incapable of taking recommendations because i am certain i will hate the book and then the recommender will hate me

      Liked by 1 person

  23. amithi says:

    The only people in my life I swap recommendations (and books) with are my brothers. We share similar reading tastes for the most part and neither of us will take it bad if a book isn’t to our tastes. We shared our books as kids and my dad used to read us bedtime stories well into our early teens (that’s when we first encountered “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the “Rings”). No Disney stories for us…

    My husband shares next to none of my reading preferences (but at least he reads!), so we usually avoid recommending books to each other. We talk about what we’re reading and sometimes that makes one curious (mostly me, I’m the more divers reader). The only books we ever shared and unreservedly loved were “One Thousand and One Nights” (his choice), “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (mine) and almost all of Oliver Sacks (both, we work with neurological patients).
    But mostly I found it mildly disappointing to recommend a book (especially one that is important to me) and then seeing it sitting on his nightstand unopened until it silently reappears on the book shelf.

    My friends and colleagues mostly read contemporary novels (something I usually avoid) if they read at all, I have one who’s into historic novels (I can be persuaded depending on the period or the theme) and no one into fantasy or scifi. So my recommendations would be of no interest. I will listen to anything recommended to me and then try to find enough reviews (both good and bad) to see if I could be interested. As I did here. So again, thank you.

    Like

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