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