A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. MaasA Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3
on May 3rd, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
Pages: 705 pages
Goodreads

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 maneuverings 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.

1.5 Stars

As always, people, this is a review of a book and its content, not the personality of its author. My criticism of the book is not meant as an offence to SJM’s person. If you cannot stomach criticism of your favourite author’s work, please just ignore this review, as I don’t care for fangirls shitting all over my opinion – thank you (I used the magic words, so be nice).

Beware: Minor spoilers.

So, after the two previous instalments had kept me reasonably interested in the story, A Court of Wings and Ruin fell utterly flat for me. A Court of Mist and Fury had been a guilty pleasure read whereas A Court of Wings and Ruin was just guilty pleasure. This was mainly due to a lack of a lot of things I had liked about the sequel. Gone were the grounds for new character development, gone were the exciting political twists, gone was the romantic tension between Feyre and Rhys. I think this instalment could have been a lot shorter, more compact, and more interesting. Though I am by no means a fan of SJM’s work, I expected more from this finale.

“You do not fear. You do not falter. You do not yield.
Remember that you are a wolf. And you cannot be caged.”

One of the only things I loved about A Court of Wings and Ruin was being reunited with the squad (meaning Feyre, Rhys, Cassian, Azriel, Mor, and Amren). I had missed their sass and their banter.

➽ I cared a lot more for the side character’s subplots because that’s where the entertainment was at. The sparks between Nesta and Cassian were a source of delight, and I hold a special place in my heart for bitchy, stone-cold Nesta. I liked the direction in which Lucien’s storyline had turned after the sequel had painted him a blithering idiot (though his absence for a major part of the book was quite unfortunate). To my surprise, the way SJM resolved things with Tamlin were quite satisfactory and gave this character, whose name had been raked through the mud, a reasonably good ending.

So, with regard to positive remarks, I think that’s about it. If this book is something you hold dear, you should probably make an exit now, because I’m going to shit all over something you love (though the 2-star rating should’ve been a warning in the first place, chrm). Let the rant commence.

I don’t know what happened to the pacing in this book but it was off. The first part of the book bored me to tears, even though it held the potential for some epic scheming, but no, we mainly witness Feyre doing a lot of seething, sulking, and provoking. The pacing stuttered a lot in general but the first 100 pages or more were simply excruciating, which is why I ended up skimming most of it. Sadly, the following parts had a hard time making up for my initial boredom despite all the action scenes. This book’s pacing couldn’t holds its own.

➽ Remember A Court of Mist and Fury‘s slow burn? The sizzling tension? The banter and the steam? Well, I found none of that here. Without the slow burn’s tension, the romance between Feyre and Rhysand lost all of its magic on me. On the contrary, sometimes they were so painfully cheesy, it made me want to close my eyes and count to ten. The sex scenes were as awkward as ever. Though SJM refrained from using nature to describe the sex (I mean, I was expecting erupting volcanoes or tsunamis or something), the steamy/sexy scenes did nothing for me. Nada. To be frank, I was a lot more interested where the romantic subplots of Nesta/Cassian and Elain/Lucien were headed, and I ended up a bit disappointed. These fresh couples, which could have given the book its slow burn, didn’t get enough page time to my liking, especially at the end.

A lot of things in this book were utterly convenient. I loathe convenience in books, as it cheapens the struggle of the characters. When things went to shit, someone always seemed to miraculously find a way to save everyone’s ass. Or, a long-gone character suddenly decided to show up and – again – save everyone’s ass. Or, someone noticed something earth-shattering no one else had ever noticed before, even though it should have been fucking obvious to begin with. Sure, the characters were put through the wringer, but it’s not all that exciting when you expect SJM to conjure some magic trick to make the world whole again, you know?

➽ Then, of course, there is the matter of the inclusion of sexual diversity. While I would love to clap SJM on the back for introducing queer characters, I do not think the rep of bisexuality was handled well (some bisexual reviewers were even personally offended, but I cannot speak on their behalf). This, like so many other things, seemed utterly convenient since there had been a major outcry about SJM’s lack of diverse rep before the publication of this book. But all my suspicions aside, the introduction of bi-/homosexual characters was done in a nonchalant, hastily written, by-the-way kind of way which I personally found rather shallow. Some people will find this a rightful rep since it is not supposed to be a big deal (yes, true) but it also didn’t require SJM a lot of effort, and this lack of effort was quite apparent to me – mainly, because she could have broached this subject earlier in the series but she chose to do so only in the third book (and its second half, at that) and stuck with the topic for roughly one passage. It felt like a last-minute decision on her part to include some sexual diversity, and I just didn’t find it very convincing. You may find this nitpicky, and no one is more disappointed than I that I could not enjoy her diverse rep, but it’s just my view on the matter. What irked me even more than the shallow rep, though, was the problematic rep. I mean, depicting a bisexual character as promiscuous with an excessive sex-drive constantly on the lookout for a threesome? It’s a big NO from me. Even if she knows someone IRL who fits the description, it just sends the wrong message. I appreciate SJM for trying but… as my co-blogger put it: Bad rep is worse than none.

➽ I had never been the greatest fan of SJM’s writing but I discovered my distaste for it in A Court of Wings and Ruin. Her writing had never struck me as particularly graceful but, this time, the prose seemed very choppy, as if she had written this book in great haste. Sure, she’s juggling several projects at this time, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she had speed-written this book, but… Well, if you’re going to push 600+ pages on me, I expect some quality work.

My last remark has nothing to do with my rating of the book’s content, but is rather a general statement a lot of readers and reviewers have been making.

No matter what the publisher wills it to be, this series will never classify as Young Adult. Sure, a lot of teens are sexually active, and that’s alright, but 1) there is hardly a reading audience as diverse as people in their late teens or early adult years when it comes to maturity and 2) that’s no excuse to feed mature, graphic content to a YA audience. By publishing it as YA, Bloomsbury Children’s is giving it their stamp of approval for young readers, and that’s not ok. If it is published as NA, on the other hand, younger readers can decide for themselves whether they think a NA book is their thing or not.

Though it was not one of my most anticipated releases, A Court of Wings and Ruin could have made for an enjoyable guilty pleasure read. The book’s sluggish pacing, utterly convenient plot, dull and sappy romance, brushed-over rep, and choppy writing was not what I had in mind. I’m happy for all of you who found enjoyment and entertainment and bliss in this instalment – sadly, I did not. I think it’s time SJM and I parted ways because her work is clearly not for me.

6 Comments

  1. I can hear people clapping in the four corners of the world… PREACH. I’m going to link your review in mine on GR as soon as I get home to my laptop, brainsis! I love especially your paragraph on bad rep. And Chantal’s words need to become a motto. Apart from the fact that plot-wise, you can’t drop a bomb like a character’s homosexuality without some foreshadowing before (it’s so clear she hadn’t planned that at all), I abhor such sloppiness when it’s obvious people’s feelings are going to be touched (one way or the other) by this theme and the way it’s handled; a little more thoughtful planning was the least that was demanded. It’s a mater of common sense and respect, basically, and not even of storytelling ability.

    In case it wasn’t yet clear, I love the review to pieces! :**

    • nina

      May 8, 2017 at 9:16 PM

      Thank you, brainsis! ❤ I’m going to post this review on GR, too, but you can link the one from the blog (more visitors *rubs hands*). Chantal’s words rang so true with me. Diversity in sexuality is such a sensitive topic and needs to be handled with great care, as you said, which is why I was very disappoined with the hastily written rep in this book. I thought the day SJM was going to include some diverse rep was going to be a happy day, but… no.

  2. I am a HUGE fan of this series and I was also disappointed in this book. :/ I agree with so much of this review. I don’t understand what happened to Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship, but it has completely fizzled. I really hope one of the inevitable future novels follows Nesta and Cassian. I also totally agree about the bisexual rep. It did seem completely last minute and there was absolutely NO hint whatsoever of one particular character ever being anything but straight and in love with her male love interest. I was also shocked that the other bisexual character was constantly trying to sleep with EVERYONE. I wanted and expected to love this book so much! I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed the issues with it though. Great review!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

    • nina

      May 8, 2017 at 9:26 PM

      I’m so sorry you were disappointed by this book as well, Tracy! 🙁 I felt like the Nesta/Cassian banter was supposed to make up for the lack of tension between Rhys and Feyre, but honestly, that equation didn’t add up, even though I adore Nesta and Cassian. Well, she had the surprise factor on her side, but without the foreshadowing, it really doesn’t seem to have been planned AT ALL (I’m also not sure if it was specified whether the character in question was bi or homosexual?!). The bisexual rep was ridiculous beyond measure – I can’t even. I hope that you’ll be able to enjoy the novellas more! Thank you so much for commenting! 🙂

  3. And there goes my last desire to read this book. Great review!

    • nina

      June 24, 2017 at 5:26 PM

      Thank you, Tilda! I think the only thing that made me suffer through this book was wanting to know how it ends, and the boredom wasn’t worth it.

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