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Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass

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Rating: ☕☕☕ (3/5)

Where do I even begin?

As someone who was not at all impressed by Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass, I was extremely reluctant to pick up this series, especially given the fact that it received the same amount of hype that Throne of Glass did–a book I did not enjoy at all. For this reason, I had very low expectations when my best friend forced me to read ACOTAR (you know you gotta read a book when your BFF says “read this book or friendship over”).

And well…surprise, surprise, I once again have the unpopular opinion.

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass

The first thing that I want to mention is that this book is set in an incredibly beautiful world, and the way the writer portrayed this world and made this world come to life is beyond amazing. If you want to know what powerful world building is, then you should definitely read this book, if only to understand how it is done. World building is very important for any fantasy novel, but it’s rare for me to find a book where the writer so skillfully crafts the world that you can practically see this imaginary world right in front of you. Books transport you to different places, yes, but not all books can make you forget the reality you are living in the way A Court of Thorns and Roses can. And as someone who emphasizes a lot on world building in fantasy, the world of Prythian (the land of the faeries) is the only reason why I decided to finish this book and pick up the sequel.

Note how I stressed that the world building is the only reason why I am continuing with the series.

Now this is where I start ranting about all the things that I hated about this book. Lets start with what pissed me off the most: our supposedly badass, strong, female protagonist, Feyre.

Feyre suffers from what I am starting to call The Strong Female Syndrome. She has excellent surviving skills, she can fight like it’s no one’s business, she is funny, she is witty, she is observant, she looks after her family and is protective of them and would give up anything for them. She is also neglected and to an extent, emotionally abused by said family. But none of these things make me hate her. In fact, these are things that should have made me admire her, except for the fact that she is stereotyped (as many “strong females” are these days) by a few not-so-admirable things, the first of many, is her hypocrisy.

In the very beginning of the book, we see her resenting her eldest sister Nesta, for not caring about their crippled father. In the very next paragraph, we see her, Feyre, resenting her own crippled and traumatized father for not trying whatever he could do to look after them, to feed them or care for them. Now, I understand that someone who was forced to do dangerous, bone breaking tasks at the age of fourteen does have the right to be resentful about her situation and may even place blame on those who do not deserve it (it is not right, but it is understandable). But that’s not what I am pointing out here. I am pointing out the double standard when she accuses Nesta of being hearltess for hating their father for not looking after them, when Feyre herself does the same. And we see this hypocrisy several times in different circumstances throughout the book with different characters and different situations. I won’t include the examples in this review because this review is already nearly 1000 words, so instead them I’ll talk more about them in details in this Saturday’s Stray Thoughts post (a bi weekly discussion post feature), but bottom line is: I understand the need to make characters have one or more flaws, but these days majority of strong female leads have the exact same commendable qualities (silver tongue, sarcastic, great at combat) and the exact same imperfections (ill tempered, full of vitriol, punches first and asks questions later). It’s becoming a stereotype that needs to be broken, because people are multi-faceted. You do not have to fit yourself into a certain type of mold to be considered strong.

Now let’s move on to our supposedly oh-so-swoon-worthy love interest Tamlin. Majority of the readers who are done with the second book detest him, while those still reading the first book adore him and practically squeal whenever Chapter 27 comes up in coversation, but to be perfectly honest, while I didn’t hate Tamlin, his relationship with Feyre made me extremely uncomfortable. While I can’t say I noticed any abuse, his dominating behavior towards Feyre, coupled with the fact that Feyre was his prisoner and completely at his mercy, raised many red flags in my mind when they began their relationship. I couldn’t help but feel as though it was more Stockholm Syndrome than actual love, especially because there wasn’t any reason behind them falling in love, and that made me especially uncomfortable during some of the more intimate scenes between them. And while I have no problem seeing Stockholm Syndrome in a book, I do believe it is something that should be acknowledged as opposed to being treated as a normal love story.

Other than Feyre being annoying and the relationship in the book being problematic, there were many things in this book that I truly loved. The supporting characters, the cultures and customs of the Fae, the world of Prythian and ofcourse–our evil, hateful villain–all of them made reading this book fairly enjoyable but only after reaching the 70% mark. The final showdown between Feyre and the antagonist remains my favorite scene throughout the entire book and it almost made up for all the other things that this book lacked.

To put it simply: A Court of Thorns and Roses is a book worth giving a try, and I am definitely going to continue with the series because I am very intrigued by the plot and I want to see where Mass goes with it, but it’s really not worthy of all the hype it has received.


Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass



15 thoughts on “Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass”

  1. Oh no! It makes me so sad to see you didn’t enjoy this book very much because it’s one of my personal favorites! I’m glad to see that you’ll be continuing the series though because I think you’ll definitely enjoy the second book. The third book? Ehhh, maybe not so much haha. But this was such a wonderful review! I love how mature and concise you were! You kept it super real and I absolutely loved that. This was great! ❤

    1. Thank you so much! You have no idea how much that means to me ❤ I finished ACOMAF and I LOVED it! Feyre was still very irritating but I did enjoy her character development.

      I am on the third book now. I am only in chapter 29 and so far so good. But I heard the ending was disappointing for a lot of readers :/

      1. Aw yay! I’m so glad you loved ACOMAF! I always love it when someone else loves the books as much as I do – the second book is by far the best in the series. I definitely didn’t find Feyre irritating, but I can for sure see where you’re coming from. She did grow a lot as a character, haha.

        The middle of ACOWAR was enjoyable for me. I wasn’t impressed by the beginning OR the ending. I really was disappointed by the end, unfortunately. Doesn’t detract from the entire series but I broke my heart that I didn’t enjoy ACOWAR as much as the other books

        1. I know the feeling. It’s like instant friendship! Though I will admit despite loving ACOMAF and enjoying ACOTAR my relationship with Mass is still very rocky :/

          1. I’m heartbroken, haha. And for sure! I see where you’re coming from. I’ve always enjoyed her writing, but for those who don’t, I’ve also understood where they’re coming from. Everyone’s different 🙂

          2. I get the appeal too! She’s definitely a genius and extremely skilled and creative. I wasn’t fond of Throne of Glass only because of the romance–the plot was so good I only wanted to focus on that. But her writing is exceptional in both series, no denying that!

          3. She’s very imaginative, I will say that much! I’m actually a fan of her romances (well, minus the sex, haha) but I actually haven’t even read the third book in the ToG series. I really have to catch up on that to see if I sincerely love SJM. But her writing is phenomenal; I so agree with you!

  2. I loved this book! It’s too sad that you didn’t enjoyed it as much as others did but I’m glad to hear that you’re still continuing the series. I hope enjoy the second book! 🙂

  3. Everybody is so obsessed with Sarah J Maas but I still haven’t picked up her books. The criticisms that I’ve read of ACOTAR are a lot of why – I am so sick of problematic relationships like the one you’ve described. It just makes me mad to read that kind of shit as romantic.

    1. I recently finished the second book and I am really happy to say that the problematic relationship was addressed and Feyre actually learns to end that toxic relationship. I won’t go so far as to recommend it yet, but I suppose you could maybe read a library copy just to see if you like it.

      It’s great to see you Lydia! I hope you are doing well. 💕

      1. Okay, that is a positive step forward. I’m sure there’ll come a weekend where my curiosity wins over and I pick it up despite myself.

        I’m doing good thank you, I hope you are too. I am trying to rebalance life things a bit so I have more time for blogging again.

  4. Mmm, I LOVED Throne of Glass, but the subsequent books were nothing impressive for me. Regardless, I did try picking ACOTAR up – didn’t manage to get through it! Probably because I was superr stressed at the time though! Will definitely give it a try again I guess..but is it worth it if I’m probably not going to read the next book?
    Glad to see you enjoyed the worldbuilding though! <3
    Geraldine @ Corralling Books

    1. You could get a library copy. Since I didn’t rate it more than 3 stars I wouldn’t recommend buying it first. Read it for free and if you like it–go ahead and buy it! Fun fact: I own a hardcover of ACOWAR and I will be buying a hardcover of ACOMAF but not ACOTAR simply because I didn’t like the book 😅 I might buy a paperback/local print though just for the sake of having a set.

      Yeah it’s very hard to enjoy a book when you are going through a lot of stress. I usually read light fluffy books or I re-read my favorite books to help me through those times.

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