Review | A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (ACOTAR, #1)

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas (book review)

Rating: didn’t live up to the hype — 2.5/5

Reviewer: Alyssa
Release Date: May 5th, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Age Group: New Adult (suitable for mature YA audiences)
Genres: Fantasy, fairytale retelling (Beauty and the Beast)
Pages: 432 (Paperback)
Format/Source: Paperback, purchased
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

A Court of Thorns and Roses was my first SJM read. The premise was intriguing, the covers were gorgeous, and the reviews fairly positive — so even though I knew there was going to be a romance at the centre, this unsentimental reader decided to give it a try.

The romance wasn’t the issue.

It was an issue, sure. Feyre and Tamlin’s romance wasn’t much of a slow burn, despite most of the first two acts devoted towards it. We went from 0%, wherein Feyre was still sulking inside Tamlin’s castle, to a full-blown confession by Tamlin that he was attracted towards Feyre, and hardly any build-up or second thoughts after that to outright sexual relations. It still felt Stockholm-y to me, mainly because after the reveal, you realise Tamlin has been keeping Feyre around under false pretences. But the excellent emotional depiction of Feyre made it believable—like I said, not the issue.

My first problem with this book is the arbitrary magic rules. Don’t get me wrong, the worldbuilding was wonderful and layered and complex, but there were a few too many loopholes, some of which never even came into play. Ash can kill fairies, but iron can’t—okay, so Feyre kills Andras with an ash arrow, but there isn’t another sprig of ash in the rest of the book. The curse on Tamlin and co. will be broken after seven years and seven nights, and the main villain and the person who cast it, Amaranthe, has no apparent reason to set up this loophole. Why not three days? Three years? Why not just take Tamlin prisoner right away?

And after Amaranthe gives Feyre a sporting chance at rescuing Tamlin—which can be justified, her being something of a sadist—for some reason she decides to leave Feyre a loophole in the form of a riddle. That was too much of a Deus Ex Machina for me, especially since Amaranthe is no idiot. She leaves herself a loophole in the sporting chance too, so why would she not be more careful with this?

Amaranthe, on the whole, was a disappointing villain. She doesn’t show up in person until nearly the climax itself, and her backstory wasn’t compelling enough. Because of this, her reasons for doing things boil down to “for the lulz” and “for power” and “because Tamlin is hot”. She wasn’t a bad villain, but I expected much more from a book with that many promising reviews.

And on why characters do things, I couldn’t warm to Rhysand at all. Initially, I did like him, but he was apparently “not that evil”. he placed Feyre in another situation suspiciously like a sex slave. It can be argued that Feyre consented in some strange way, but considering that she had few other choices except to let her wounds fester, I’m not up with that. It can also be argued that he never really did anything to Feyre except dance with her and say creepy things, but she still signs away a significant portion of her life with him. And somehow he’s still a good guy and Feyre doesn’t punch his guts out when she later has the power to do so.

For the record, I don’t necessarily object to situations similar to the Stockholm Syndrome — I object to Tamlin/Feyre and Feyre & Rhysand because they’re not portrayed in a negative light.

The plot, on the whole, was well thought-out, if rather slow in the mid-50% and relies on a backstory monologue to get it kick-started towards the climax. The beginning and the end were fantastic, though, and all throughout the writing was absolutely gorgeous. Nesta had brilliant character development—and let’s admit it, Lucien was adorable. He’s like a puppy who plays tricks sometimes but is still the most adorable puppy ever.

It was a fun read, but disappointing considering all the hype around it—and sadly, I doubt I’ll be picking up my second SJM read anytime soon.

6 thoughts on “Review | A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (ACOTAR, #1)

  1. Appletaile says:

    I absolutely adore Throne of Glass, so I thought I would love this, but…it wasn’t really for me. Romance can be rather hit-and-miss, and this was a definite miss. I think I’d agree with you on all those other points, too – it was just not good compared to ToG. (Lucien was probably my favourite character, though? Yeah.)
    It was really nice to see an opinion similar to mine!

    • Alyssa says:

      I was expecting a lot from SJM too! Romance is more often a miss for me than a hit, so perhaps that explains it. Lucien is definitely fabulous.

      It’s awesome to share an opinion with you!

  2. Heather says:

    It’s funny; I’ve been reading a bunch of reviews that are either disappointed or uninterested, like this one, or reviews that think it was the best book ever. Like, there’s no in between. Judging from the disappointed reviews (this included) I don’t think this book is one for me, but it’s still interesting to see everyone’s opinions around the board.

    • Alyssa says:

      Yeah, the blogosphere is pretty divided over this one. That’s what’s great about the book blogging community — so many diverse opinions! And book reviews don’t always have to recommend a book — telling you whether a book is right for you is equally important.

  3. shannonmiz says:

    I did really enjoy this book, but I understand why people didn’t. I mean, I read it as a non-review book, meaning I did not give a single thought to any actual merits of the story, and simply focused on enjoying it (or, if it had turned out differently, not enjoying it!), and I ended up being quite fond of it. That said, if I took the time to actually sit down and consider it, I think I’d have liked it less. And I do agree with you about the slow bit around 50%, that decreased the enjoyment factor for sure! Great review, and I am so sorry this didn’t turn out so well for you 😦

    • Alyssa says:

      Yeah, I sometimes ignore the books’ merits too and just focus on enjoyment factor, especially for books recommended by other people. And sometimes enjoyment factor doesn’t correlate with all those bigger themes. Well, it was still a worthwhile read, I think 🙂

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