Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) 
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 699
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Reviews for book 1 and book 2

A nightmare, I’d told Tamlin. I was the nightmare.

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. 

//Contains spoilers for books 1 & 2! Spoilers at the end after the rating.//

If you know me then you know that A Court of Thorns and Roses is easily in my top 5 favorite series of all time. I mean, my dog's middle name (yes, he has a middle name) is Rhysand. So it should come as no surprise that A Court of Wings and Ruin was my most anticipated read of 2017! I set aside time specifically for this book and was at the bookstore before I'm usually even awake getting the exclusive edition. I'm telling you all of this so that you'll understand how devastated I am that this book was actually pretty disappointing.

A Court of Wings and Ruin picks up right after the end of A Court of Mist and Fury, with Feyre back in the Spring Court. Tamlin believes that she has not been acting of her own free will during her time with Rhys and is actually still in love with him. He doesn't realize that she's only with him to get vengeance for what happened to her, her sisters, and her friends when Tamlin and Ianthe sold her out to Hybern. Thus begins a 700 page journey to war and back for Feyre and company.

There were certainly things I enjoyed about ACOWAR, so let's start there. I thought that Feyre was a total badass whenever she was facing down her enemies. I love how far she's come since book one and I always look forward to getting to see her fight, especially now that she's mastered her (many) powers! Feyre's flying lessons with Azriel were also fantastic! Although I do think she caught on just a tiny bit too soon (especially based on the information we're given about the difficulty Azriel had learning to fly) it was a lot of fun seeing them go back and forth with each other.

One of my favorite parts of this book were the side characters! Obviously Lucien was my favorite of these. The beginning of his story arc was immensely satisfying, although it would have been nice if he'd been present a bit more throughout. As always, Cassian was spectacular and I his relationship with Nesta is one I am forever interested to know more about! I was glad to get to know the other High Lords better (or at all in some cases) and I loved the Bone Carver and the Suriel! These two have spent the rest of the series being utterly terrifying and I really liked seeing a different side to them. I'd love backstories for either! It's awesome when minor characters such as these are fleshed out.

The war with Hybern is what the entire series has been leading up to and it was done (mostly) right! It was tense in the right places and kept me on the edge of my seat. It did seem a little weird that it was over so quickly, but I still enjoyed it - especially the parts certain unique characters played and the havoc they wreaked. The different armies from each court was a lot of fun to read about, especially the Winter Court with its armored bears!

And now on to the things I didn't like... There wasn't a "dislikes" section in my reviews for the previous two books, so this is a first for me. To start, I didn't love what became of Feyre and Rhysand's relationship. I rooted for them and fangirled so hard in ACOMAF! But in this one they've become disgustingly co-dependent, so much so that they're basically the same person. Gone is the strong, fiercely independent Feyre from books past and devilishly charming, cunning Rhys is also missing. Instead, they've become a single unit of wing- and mind-stroking High Fae who have sex at the most awkward times and constantly refer to each other as "my mate" instead of by name.

Another issue I have is that a lot of characters in ACOWAR seemed quite out of character. Mor is a notable example who seemed to do a total 180 from her character in the last book, spending most of this one being rude and irritable. Even Rhysand was totally out of character for a major plot point. There were characters who went from good to bad to good again so often that I lost track. Characters who would normally trust each other suddenly choose not to for no apparent reason and others randomly reveal facts about themselves that are seemingly from left field. Luckily, Nesta remains her amazing self, but Elain as High Fae is like watching paint dry.

Then there's the ending. I can't say too much without spoilers, but it was not what I was expecting at all. AT ALL. Before I reached the end of the book I saw so many people who were in literal tears over what happens at the end and I cannot understand why. There was no real emotional impact, which I've become accustomed to with Maas books. It almost seems as if this book was written in a hurry to try to meet a deadline while packing in as much information as possible and leaving endless options for future novels. I was surprised at the number of new characters introduced in ACOWAR, even in the last few chapters.

I was under the impression that this was the finale of this trilogy, but there were so many loose ends and unanswered questions that it's obvious the series will be dragged out for awhile. I knew there would be more books written in this universe, but I didn't expect so many storylines to be left open-ended. It made this book feel like just another book in a series rather than a true ending. I know my review might make it seem like I didn't like this book but I did enjoy it overall. There were far more issues that I'm used to in an ACOTAR novel and it didn't live up to my expectations. I'll still be reading future books set in this world, but I definitely won't be going in with expectations this high again.

  • Feyre killing the siblings from Hybern and destroying Ianthe was one of the most epic things I've ever read ever. I needed more of this in this book! 
  • I am so sad that Lucien was basically sent off on a side quest for most of the book that we never got to see! I wanted so much more of him! I am really interested to see what happens with him and Elain since there seems to be absolutely zero interest on her part. I'm guessing we'll definitely get a book about Lucien in the future. 
  • Who has sex in the middle of a war?? Who makes licking dirt and blood off of someone sexy? I just. I can't believe what's happened to Feyre and Rhys. They were my absolute favorite in ACOMAF and I'm so sad that they've morphed into literal Feysand. 
  • Rhys forcing Mor into a situation with her abuser without at least warning her first and asking her consent was so unlike anything he's done until and it totally threw me off. I felt the same way about Amren not telling anyone her plan for the final battle. What was the point of lying and tricking Feyre to the Cauldron? Why not just tell her what she planned to do? 
  • Mor coming out as bisexual. Like, when? Where? There has been absolutely zero hint of this in the previous two books. Every single thing until now has pointed towards her being in love with Azriel but fighting it for some reason. I really think that SJM threw this in at the last minute because of the backlash she's received for having so few diverse characters. And, you know, good for her for listening! But this was not the way to do it, in my opinion. 
  • Why does every single character need to be redeemed? I can sort of understand Jurian. He was dealt a bad hand and I can buy him going over to the good guys, but Tamlin? Is he good? Is he bad? CHOOSE ONE PLEASE!
  • Not one single main character died in the war. Cassian almost died (or should have died) multiple times, but somehow never did. Rhys dying would have accounted for the people saying this book broke them, but I wasn't even concerned when he "died" because I had a feeling he wasn't truly dead. The fact that Maas brought him back in the exact same way as Feyre in ACOTAR just added insult to injury. Amren would have been a perfect choice to let go, but even she couldn't stay gone! It was utterly ridiculous to me that Rhysand brought her back. I saw someone else compare this battle to Minas Tirith and I couldn't agree more. The multiple armies just happening to show up in the nick of time was laughable.
  • The end was so much cheese I almost choked. I could not believe the way this book wrapped up like a Disney movie with everyone getting their happily ever after and children literally laughing in the streets! After the emotional destruction of the first two books, I expected a book hangover of massive proportions, but this didn't leave me emotional at all. Except I'm a little disappointed.