Monday, July 11, 2016

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

In 2017, the live-action Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson will (finally) be released. In the meantime, I sat down and read this little gem right here which turned out to be a retelling of Beauty and the Beast! I honestly picked it up because it was recommended to me, but I never even bothered to read what it was about. Imagine my surprise when I started reading it and began to make all of the connections between this story and that of Beauty (and imagine how silly I felt afterward when I learned it was literally pegged as a retelling. My bad.)

A Court of Thorns and Roses centers around Feyre, a 19 year old girl who is out hunting in the woods for food for herself, her two sisters and her father. When she was about to bring down a deer, a large wolf enters, also hoping to bring down the doe. Feyre is aware that the wolf could be a faerie and out of hatred for faeries, who mistreated humans for generations, she shoots the wolf and skins him. Her actions set off a sequence of events, starting with the arrival of Tamil, the high lord of the Spring Court, arriving at her door to demand payment for the death of his sentinel Andras. As payment, Feyre is taken to the land of Faeries, named Prythian where she will learn that the events she has set in motion extend farther than she ever imagined.

A Court of Thorn and Roses was a roller coaster ride. I thought that I kind of knew where the story was going and then had to quickly readjust. I remember originally thinking that it was so weird that a loss of magic would mean that members of the Spring Court couldn't remove their masquerade masks when magic was affected at a ball. I let its shaky premise go however, since this was a world of faeries and magic and where magic is concerned, much of it can be explained just with, "That's the way the magic worked." So I was quite happy when we finally (it took a while to get to this point in the story. I didn't mind it though), learned the entire truth of everything that had happened and was happening in the Spring Court.

The second part of the book almost lost me to be honest. All of a sudden, I felt like we were rushing to condense the trials and everything related to Amarantha in as few pages as possible. Compared to the slow build-up in the first part, the second part of the book moved at a quick pace. It would have been acceptable if a huge battle was happening or one thing after another was taking place, but aside from the action scenes of the trials, it had about as much action as the first part. However, what started out as a small cast of 3-4 characters suddenly expanded to well over 10 and the court politics really kicked in. I would have liked to have seen how it played out in a more thorough manner, possibly involving more of the high lords other than just Rhys (although I know this is a set-up for the second book where Rhys will take on a more central role. That's pretty obvious...)

The story was good, don't get me wrong. It had tons of twists and turns and a storyline that is actually pretty hard to predict. I love stories like this, they really keep you on edge because you have no idea what to expect. Feyre is a strong lead and I like that she was so honest and that her love of painting wasn't just a "hobby" or "talent", it was portrayed as a strong part of who she is as a person. When the truth was revealed to Feyre about halfway through the book, everything fit together like a puzzle and made absolute sense in hindsight (like, of course that's why the masks are there!!). But, I had trouble liking Feyre. Love binds her tightly, and while an admirable trait, it's one that leads her to take irrational actions. I suppose that these choices she made didn't sit well with me because they were so obviously the bad choice, I would find myself thinking, "Ok, the girl can bring down a wolf and provide for her family so obviously she's strong and smart, but for some reason, she can't make a smart decision to curtail the politics in the court?! C'mon, she's smarter than that!"

Tamil was so-so for me. I found I liked him well enough in the first part and then stopped caring about him in the second part of the book. Rhys was an interesting character. He knows how to play the game of politics well and while originally I really disliked him, I grew to like him by the end of the book although his methods are definitely questionable. But by and large, my favorite character is Lucien. Not only does he have a tragic past (I wonder what happened to those horrible brothers of his...?) but he is SASSY. And I like sassy characters. He also knows how to play the game of politics fairly well, and unlike Tamil who sits stone-faced for forever (ok, ok, I know Amarantha is watching his every move, but damn, he can't do at least one thing to help her out? Oh wait, he can do one thing which was a stupid thing that Rhys had to cover for), Lucien takes action and tries to help Feyre out of loyalty to Tamil. I would be lying if some part of me didn't wish Feyre would have fallen for Lucien instead, but by the end of the book I was very happy this didn't happen because A. It's cliche and B. Lucien deserves someone just as sassy as him. I hope Lucien continues to be a main character in the second book and continues to provide comedic relief.

Probably the main reasons I will continue with this series is Lucien, lol. But A Court of Thorns and Roses was certainly interesting and has all of the plot elements to make an entertaining read for sure!


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