A Court of Thorns and Roses: Hyperbolic, tone-deaf, and incompetent // Non-spoiler Rant Review

“As I lifted the ash dagger, something inside me fractured so completely, there would be no hope of ever repairing it.”

Summary:

This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling that follows a girl named Feyre, a hunter who ends up accidentally killing a member of the Fae Spring Court, and is whisked away by its High Lord Tamlin as retribution for her crimes. There, she is destined to live out her days, but a curse threatens to plague the Spring Court and its occupants.

***Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance

***Fair warning: As the post title suggests, this is not going to be a too positive review. Therefore, if you enjoyed this book and would probably get your feelings hurt by someone taking a dump on it, I suggest you scoot along and enjoy your life:) You have been warned.

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I want to burn this book in the oven.

Okay, this book is a difficult one for me to discuss. I would like nothing but to condemn it to the pits of hell with a fiery passion, but as I consider it to be an objectively good guilty pleasure read, I shall do my best to articulate why it’s not my favorite book in the world without going overboard or projecting my biases upon anyone who liked it.

So to start, I really loved Feyre at the beginning of this book. She is in a situation where she is subjected to the outrageousness of her family, but she puts her head down and does what she had to do because, well, she’s a survivor: she turns the other cheek and provides for them without having a pity party for herself because she knows she’s the only one who can, and that really spoke to her emotional maturity as a character.

Unfortunately, this changes once Tamlin swoops into the picture, because soon after Feyre concedes her freedom in exchange for her family’s life, she begins sulking that she is being held against her will, and that really cheapened her sacrifice for me. Granted, I sympathized for her predicament, but considering she’d willingly resigned herself to her fate, I did not see the point of her whinging about things beyond her control.

Furthermore, this sense of martyrdom fuels Feyre’s sense of entitlement. She begins shooting off her mouth, digging in her heels at any request made of her (despite believing her life to be in mortal danger if she doesn’t comply), and that grated on my nerves after a while. I’m all for a girl not being a doormat, but this book attempts to make Feyre “sassy” when in fact she was simply coming across passive-aggressive.

And goodness, talk about an insipid romance as well. Feyre and Tamlin spend a good deal of this book exchanging suggestive banter and circling one another like horny teenagers, but it felt unrealistic, immature, and silly in the way that erotica does. Not to mention, there is a particular scene where Feyre might’ve been sexually assaulted, yet it is so gray and ambiguous that it feels tone-deaf to the point of actual incompetence.

After all, yes, Sarah J. Maas has good intentions to create a female-empowering book, but not only is she constantly putting her heroine in sexually degrading scenarios, she does not seem aware how thin a line she is drawing between Feyre being sexually assaulted and Feyre baiting people to jump her: this book unintentionally seems to propagate the myth that women “want it” in sexual assault, and that rubbed me the wrong way.

Oh, and Tamlin is sketchy af by the way. I would like to put it out there that I feel people are overreacting when they claim that he was abusive in this book, but his intentions and motivations towards Feyre were most definitely questionable during her stay with him. Not to mention, his actions (or the lack thereof) towards the end of the climax made me incredibly frustrated, and his blase indifference did not help endear him to me.

Bottom line, this book angers me. It romanticizes a territorial dynamic that feels like an erotica parading as a serious fantasy, and it was hyperbolic, tone-deaf, and overblown. Any author who uses drama as a crutch to mask the lack of nuance or realism screams of incompetency to me, and I simply cannot respect that.

“I threw myself into that fire, threw myself into it, into him, and let myself burn.”


Recommended? Cough, no.

Sarah J. Maas’ books have often been touted as beacons of feminism, but I’ve always felt strongly the opposite. Because under this umbrella of promoting female badassery, this book romanticizes territorial dynamics, propagates harmful misconceptions about feminism, and is ridiculously not self-aware when it comes to the morals it pushes.

Not to mention, Feyre is one of the most aggravating heroines I’ve encountered. She supposedly is a hunter with grit, someone with the smarts to survive, yet not only is she constantly throwing herself into danger with no back-up plan whatsoever, she does not have the humility to listen when she is admonished for her foolish actions.

After all, most of the roadblocks that this girl encounters in this book are largely self-fabricated, so for her to simply toss her hair and declare the equivalent of “It’s my prerogative as a strong woman to do what I want, thank you very much” truly rubbed me the wrong way: the author equates a woman’s self-sufficiency and strength to pride and arrogance, and such display of “feminism” was painfully misplaced to me.

In that, I just can’t with this book. Contents aside, the technical execution was spotty to average at best with fuzzy world-building, choppy prose, run-on sentences, draggy pacing, inconsistent character motivations, hyper-sexualized females, and a highly illogical, ex-machina-riddled finale: this book has glaring technical flaws besides what I covered in my review, and I simply cannot recommend it as a quality read.


Bottom line: Dramatic and incompetent.

Now to be honest, I inhale-read the first two books of this series in one sitting. I mean, they were so addicting! Graphic sex plus unhealthy wish fulfillment romance? This series is guilty pleasure heaven, so if that’s your thing, go for it; no judgment here.

But for me, this book reads like a soap opera in which all the emotions of the characters are heightened to melodrama, and it felt emotionally manipulative. There was no nuance, craft, or self-awareness here, and thus I’d give this book one star plus another for entertainment value alone. And that’s me being generous.

Rating: 1.5/5 frogs

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***Now just in case I wasn’t being abundantly clear, I don’t respect this author’s work. Her books are the very definition of what makes YA a genre that people can’t take seriously, and it’s stuff like this that drove me away from YA for over ten years. TEN YEARS.

***Also, if you feel like anything that I said in this review may have been confusing, misleading, or unjustified, my spoiler review is coming soon in which I elaborate further on why this book sucks in my humble opinion. No need to read it if you’re in a hurry. 😉

***Lastly, I am in the process of moving soon, so I’m busy. Ridiculously. Wish me luck.

47 Comments

  1. I highly enjoyed your rant. 🙂 I gave this author a shot a few years ago myself, but her writing was not to my taste either. I haven’t read this series, but judging by your review, I can tell it won’t be much different to my previous experience.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! I do like being complimented for my rants. 😂 And yeah, I think if you weren’t a fan of her other works (i.e. Throne of Glass), you won’t be a fan of this one. It’s one of her more problematic and messy books, so I wouldn’t recommend it. 😉 Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I didn’t know you weren’t a fan of this either! 😀 Do you mind giving me the link to your review? I tried looking but couldn’t find it for some reason. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this review so much!!! I used to love Throne of Glass as a teenager, but I think Sarah J. Maas’ writing has gotten lazier nowadays. And I agree, Feyre is so annoying! The dumb things she did in this book was the only reason why it kept on going, and the romance was pure cringe. The sex especially….eww.

    Amazing rant! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thank you so much lovely! ❤ And lol, I agree; the sex was pretty cringe for me too. But then, that's SJM's style of writing ever since Throne of Glass, so I can't say I'm too surprised by this!

      Also, it's interesting you bring up quality because I do feel SJM has been pumping out books of even lower quality recently (ACOWAR and ACOFAS come to mind), and I'm glad people are starting to call her out on this. Nice to hear I wasn't the only one who's been feeling this way. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m currently reading the second book in the series and feel the same way as you do about much of it. I don’t find the romance convincing in the least and, as you point out, some of it reeks of assault. I only disagree with you on the world-building score. I do think Maas has created a vivid and interesting world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! The romance(s) feels really forced to me too, so I’m glad you agree with me there. As for world-building, that’s totally fair; I also liked the idea behind this world and conception, but I did feel like I couldn’t visualize the details in my head while reading, so that’s where my gripe came in. Each to their own though. 😉 Thank you for dropping by!

      Like

  4. This was actually really funny to read, I loved it! SJM as an author on the whole really interests me – on one hand, I find her writing (especially her romances) a bit OTT and unbearable, but I also can’t deny she’s had a lot of influence on people who agree her books have really helped them out, and I do think that’s wonderful. Plus it’s really interesting how her work is considered YA when it really verges more on NA, especially her later works, but she is arguably one of the authors who draws readers to YA. So she’s a bit of a complication, ha.

    Do you think you’ll read ACOMAF? A lot of people think that’s the pinnacle of her work, and I’d be really interested to see how you view it, especially with the character of Rhys and his “feminism” and the dynamic between him and Feyre.

    Also, best of luck with moving! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha thank you! And I’m glad you enjoyed this review! ❤

      You know, with SJM, I can't blame people who find inspiration in her books because her plots are undeniably fascinating. Like, I myself was uber sucked in even while I was piping mad about it. But her books tout feminism so strongly, yet the execution leaves much to be desired imo; it feels like the author isn't really aware of what messages she's sending, and that can be almost damaging in the long run. Or at least, that's my opinion. 😛

      Also yes, I've read the entire series! I liked the romance in ACOMAF well enough, but there are again a few things about the love triangle drama that felt really forced to me, but the romance was more healthy, so I gave it 3-stars. 😉 How did you feel about it yourself?

      Like

  5. LOLOLOLOLOL this is why I always love reading your review. I haven’t read this book but I’m really not interested!! And your opinion proves my decision!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha thanks 😂😂 I kinda feel bad for influencing people who haven’t read this series and haven’t had the chance to judge it for itself, but still, I’m actually pretty happy if I drive people away from this one. 😉 Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Skjfjc I agree with this review w all my heartttt. This review saves lives. i honestly have no idea why these books are so popular??? AND MY OWN SISTER LOVES THEM, IT’S ACTUAL TRAGEDY 😭 but I’m working on saving her poor soul. Her excuse has something to do w amazing characters and I just respond “no.” also good luck w movingggggg

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha I’m so sorry about your sister, may you save her soul. 😂😂😂 I myself would disown my sister if she liked these books, because hot DAMN, they’re cringe. You are indeed doing a good deed turning your sister away from the evils of this book!

      Also, thank you lovely! Cheers! ❤

      Like

  7. This book left me with a bad taste in my mouth too. The treatment of Feyre in this story sends all sorts of bad messages. Didn’t she also get drugged at a fae party and she couldn’t remember much at all from that sexually charged night? It’s been a while and I can’t remember all the details. Anyway, to each their own when it comes to fictional romances, but it does kind of make me uncomfortable l when I see other reviews that fawn over Tamlin and that other guy (I can’t even remember his name right now, lol).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh yes, I’m ranting about that more in my spoiler review, but that scene actually made me really disgusted. Feyre gets shuttled around this entire book in a really sexual way, and it just gets to the point that it feels so demeaning of women. I agree that people will interpret it in different ways, but still, the the romances feel incredibly unhealthy on all fronts. Bah. :/

      Thanks for reading! 😊

      Like

  8. Thank you for your review! I hate all her books with a burning passion and I’ve noticed the blogging community is more honest about this crap of book than people on Goodreads. SJM is literally a queen! Tell me about feminism! She deliberately created a misogynistic society so she could shove Rhys as a feminist down our throat. His male characters are anything but feminist- obsessive, possessive, abusive and territorial males.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. lolols I’m glad I’m not the only one 😂 I really hate her books too, and her males are so creepily bestial; they growl and snarl all the time, it’s a bit ridiculous. I do feel the blogging community is more open to criticism than Goodreads though, so that’s a relief for me because I thought I was going to get murdered haha. 😛

      Like

      1. Her characters would’ve felt more real if they were not written animal-like. I mean animals are better than these obnoxious beasts.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Awesome rant! This isn’t a book I’d have read anyway – romance is really not my thing, and when it gets graphic I get bored – but I did wonder about the Throne of Glass series briefly.
    As to your comment above about not wanting to put people off a book without them having judged for themselves … way I see it you’re saving them time and money, and giving them the chance to read something potentially better … which can only be a good thing! 😀 (Thank you!!) 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha thank you 😂 Yes, I definitely wouldn’t recommend this series if you’re not into romance, and just as a side note, I personally didn’t like Throne of Glass either; I find it slightly less problematic than this one, but the writing again just wasn’t for me.

      And whew, that’s relieving to hear! I feel bad whenever I bash on a series that the majority of people like, but like you say, I’m trying to steer people towards better books. 😉 Thank you for your kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have never read a SJM book… but I feel like, and would like to think that, this would enrage me as much as it has enraged you.. enough to want to run the oven on… I am ever so grateful to you for reading this and for reviewing this with such strong voice and conviction! Love it! 😉

    PS! Hope all goes well with the moving!!! All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thank you so much! Haha yes, I threw out this book the moment I finished reading it, and I regret not just burning it. 😂 I’m so glad you enjoyed this review though! I’m a bit scared that I might have driven you away from something you might’ve potentially loved (I mean, most people love this series), but ah well. 😉 Cheers lovely! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 😀 well, to be honest, I have seen people love and gush about the books of course, but I never just felt like I wanted to read them… there’s so much other great stuff out there, for some reason I didn’t ever feel compelled enough… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Best of luck with moving! Great review! I tried to write a non-spoiler review of this, but just wasn’t able to do it haha. So many thoughts and you put it so well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thanks 😊 Yeah, it’s hard to write a non-spoiler review for this book, and I even think this review turned out pretty spoiler-y in the end haha. Ah well. 😉

      Like

  12. Mandy told me you went on a rant about this book and I flew over. Is that weird? I don’t know how you managed to be wholly honest with your distaste for this book while giving respect for the author (because I’m still working on that balance, huge props to you) but like, you are saying everything I agree with worded the best way possible. Also is that spoiler filled review up yet because I am living for it. Reviews like this save lives … because some books just shouldn’t go to print :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha not weird at all! I’m happy to hear you found my review enjoyable, because yikes was I nervous about publishing it. I mean, I also have difficulty balancing my distaste for an author’s work with the author themselves (I sometimes get personal, oops), so it’s a relief that you didn’t find this review offensive. 😉

      Thank you for lovely comment Sha! And I am in total agreement that books like this shouldn’t go into print; I mean, it’s astonishing how the blandness of ACOWAR ever got approved as a finale… 😂

      Like

      1. It’s not a far stretch to say “they wrote this so they must share these views/beliefs” so yeah, sometimes getting personal feels tempting. But you didn’t, and this was a really well written respectful negative review.

        Publishing companies should have the duty to look for problematic pieces… I mean, I can totally see that there are readers who adore the series and I can see it sells well, but it reinforces problematic notions and that’s not okay. It shouldn’t be left to librarians and reviewers and parents to later be like omg kids don’t read this book that is *literally targetted at you*.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I agree! If I had a little sister transitioning into YA, I’d be all over her trying to make sure she didn’t pick this one up. It’s just such a harmful representation of what real relationships are like, and the problematic seeds that ACOTAR plants in young people’s minds definitely need to be weeded out in advance by the publishers.

          (Though I do believe that the publishing industry knows people eat up dramatic stuff like this, so…they’re not going to do anything about it until people stop buying it. Which isn’t going to happen anytime soon based on SJM’s popularity. Bah. :/ )

          Liked by 1 person

  13. So many interesting and valid points!
    I guess you nailed it with the ‘I consider it to be an objectively good guilty pleasure read’. I read it ages ago and it drew me in, I actually enjoyed the second book as it addressed some of the Tamlin issues. Then I gave up reading this serious half way through the third book… it just dragged, felt so boring and I could not finish it.
    I agree with you, such a well articulated review hun. ❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oof, the third book is rough! I truthfully wasn’t the biggest fan of the second book either (though it’s leaps and bounds ahead in certain aspects), but ACOWAR was straight up fluff. I literally skimmed the entire book lol.
      Thank you so much Vera, you’re always so kind! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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