A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas
Synopsis: 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.
-Spoiler free review-
I think you can tell from the stark difference between my rating for ACOMAF and this book that I am extremely disappointed. I fell in love with ACOMAF last year; it was my favourite book.
So how could it all go so catastrophically wrong?
I think there are two main reasons.
One; I really didn’t like SJM’s other release last year (Empire of Storms), and since then I have lost a lot of respect for her as an author. But I still enjoyed the ACOTAR series, so I figured I could overlook some things. (Spoiler: I couldn’t)
Which brings me to the second reason; ACOWAR was badly written. I get the feeling that it was rushed to get it released for May 2nd, because the quality was not as good as I was expecting.
Something I loved about ACOMAF was SJM’s writing style; it was so poetic and descriptive, it was as if she painstakingly slaved over the word document until she found the exact word she needed. In ACOWAR, however, the writing was just… odd. Generally there was a lot of ‘telling’ and less ‘showing’ than there usually is in her books. But on top of that, some of her word choices confused me. Words felt out of place, frustratingly repetitive, weak, or just plain wrong. It felt almost as if the manuscript didn’t go through an editing process at all.
Some people have criticised the pacing, and I’d agree that at times the plotline was too relaxed- you’d expect the characters to be rushing around at all times, considering they’re at war. But I have to say, I was never bored. I only had to really push through the last 100 pages, and that was because I didn’t like what was happening more than it being difficult to read. There is something strangely addictive about her books, and I don’t know whether it’s her writing or the fact that I was already invested in the world/characters.
Something I appreciate about the ending was that it didn’t end annoyingly (this is me trying to be spoiler-free). Many people (like me) want to stop reading after this book, and it feels like a suitable time to drop out.
There are some characters that I suppose I will miss reading about, but there were some other characters who I felt were really underdeveloped. It’s almost as if their arc was left either unfinished, or changed. I acknowledge that there is going to be a continuation of the series, but this is the end of some of the characters’ stories, so I thought their arcs were going to be finished with. Perhaps the introduction of so many new characters took up their space. There were so many new characters in ACOWAR, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
There were numerous characters described as having dark skin, or mentioned as being LGBT+, which was a pleasant surprise. However, I found some of the LGBT+ representation to be awful. The ‘casual mentions’ of gay or bisexual characters would have been good if they had been written properly. For example, there is one particular bisexual character who is mentioned to incessantly bug other characters for threesomes, etc. There is a huge stigma against bisexuals that because they like men and women, they are always up for having threesomes, and the ‘representation’ here only perpetuates that.
There have also been mentions of acephobia, but since I don’t feel equipped to talk about it in full, here is a link (http://sarahviehmann.tumblr.com/post/160047848892/tw-acephobia-in-acowar-preview) to a post that should help you understand if you don’t already. I feel that an apology and comment from SJM or Bloomsbury about this issue is needed, since it has impacted people in a negative way, regardless of whether or not that was the original intention.
These ‘casual mentions’, I suspect, were really just ways for SJM to pretend to be ‘inclusive’ when she was actually having a detrimental effect. There is only one main character who has a marginalisation, and yet the way SJM wrote said character was wrong.
Overall, I’m disappointed. Obviously since SJM has a huge fan-base full of fervent fans, ACOWAR is probably going to stay highly rated. I used to be kind of afraid to criticise big authors (and authors I liked), but I think it’s important to share your views and opinions. I can confidently say that the writing and general plot of ACOWAR was poorly planned and executed, and not enough thought went into the editing process.
I have also written an in-depth review/rant on what exactly I didn’t like about ACOWAR. Needless to say, there will be spoilers. You can read it on Goodreads (click on the “my rating” link at the top).