As someone who was rather late to the Young Adult fiction party, I was very quick to fall in love with Sarah J. Maas’s writing style and bad-ass heroines. After reading the Throne of Glass series (TOG), I decided to take the advice of many of my bookish friends and read the A Court of Thorns and Roses saga (ACOTAR) as well. Since I started late, I was lucky enough to be able to get most of the books in succession and feed my growing SJM addiction. So, here we are with a review of all three books in the saga (so far) and a look at what I loved and hated about these books.
ACOTAR begins with a young huntress named Feyre struggling to feed her family after they’ve lost their fortune and livelihood. One day, while she is out hunting, she kills a wolf, and upon her return home, she is met with a masked and furious beast-like creature who drags her back to the dangerous land of the Fae, Prythian. The High Lord of the Spring Court, Tamlin, invites her into his home, where she discovers the truth about a curse that plagues many of the Fae in the Spring Court and beyond. What begins as a fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast turns into a story of love, magic, and survival, as Feyre learns more about the Fae and the truths behind some of the lies of her own ancestors regarding the creatures beyond the wall. She must fight immortal and formidable foes in order to save the male she loves and her new home or risk losing everything, including her life.
In ACOMAF, we see Feyre suffer as she tries to acclimate to life in Prythian and her role in this new world after her trials in ACOTAR. Though Feyre has undergone many changes, both physically and mentally, she struggles to find happiness in the Spring Court. Rhysand, the High Lord of the Night Court, attempts to help her, and she is thrust into a dark web of politics, passion, and danger, as another great evil lurks beyond the borders.
ACOWAR follows Feyre and her friends as they navigate this world and attempt to save both Prythian and the human realm from this great evil. They face countless dangers and foes, and Feyre must train and learn to use her skills and abilities in order to play her part in the looming war.
What I Liked:
- SJM’s writing style: The best part of this saga was the writing, because there is never a dull moment. SJM knows how to keep the reader captivated with every page and the pace is always consistent. She’s also very talented at writing sexy scenes. *giggles*
- The characters: One of my favorite things about this saga is that my opinion changed so many times. There is so much character development and depth, that even minor characters have backstories and layers that make them memorable. The main characters are also very well-portrayed and their personalities are well-developed and unique.
- The story: The story itself is a very interesting twist on the Beauty and the Beast trope and provides plenty of adventure and excitement. The twists are very well crafted and help to propel the story forward rather than just being a twist for the sake of shock and awe.
- The issues/topics brought up: Feyre very clearly suffers from PTSD and perhaps depression in ACOMAF and it is a very intense start to the second book. Maas’s description of Feyre’s struggles often made her seem irrational and irritating, but it was a very important phase of Feyre’s development as a character. As someone who is familiar with both, it is very significant to see the issue of mental health discussed in a fantasy series, because it isn’t even broached in many genres. It actually made Feyre a much more relatable character, because she struggled to recover from a crazy and terrible “Boss fight”, when most fantasy series just mosey along after something like that, as if it has no effect on the characters involved.
What I Disliked:
- The lack of ethnic diversity in the characters: There were maybe a couple of non-white major characters throughout the series. While the issue of discrimination and segregation was a major theme in the story itself, it would have been nice to see at least one non-white character have a big role. Maybe I’m wrong and all High Fae are white? I don’t know, but it would have been nice to see more than a couple of brunettes and males with something other than “a golden tan.” Granted, it’s a fantasy and doesn’t have to abide by reality, but still, it kind of bothered me as a non-white person.
- Some rushed details about certain characters that didn’t really add much to the story and felt like they were only added as an afterthought: That said, we need those novellas like, now.
- Is there such a thing as “too much sex”? : It’s not that the sex scenes or scenes of a sexual nature are badly written (they are actually very well written), but sex just seems to be such a major thing throughout the books and in some parts, it even comes off as a tool to shut Feyre up when she starts asking too many questions.
I cannot and will not deny that I love Sarah J. Maas’s books, no matter what anyone says. I believe in the diversity of literature and the freedom to write, read, and create whatever you want as long as it doesn’t hurt others. So, my verdict will not be affected by any of that “controversy” regarding the release of the third and final book in the installment, and I will not apologize for liking these books and characters or for respecting the author behind them. There, with that said, my verdict will be in three parts.
ACOTAR: 3.5★s – I liked the story enough to want to continue with the series, but it wasn’t mind-blowing.
ACOMAF: 4★s – I loved the development and pace of the story in this one as well as the twists and new characters. This was pretty mind-blowing.
ACOWAR: 5★s – I loved the intricate twists and turns that the story took in this one and also getting to know more of the characters that we met in ACOMAF. This was my favorite one of all three and I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried like a baby more than once.
If you like fantasy with a New Adult twist, then I highly recommend this series. It’s exciting and captivating to read and you will most definitely fall in love with at least one character, I guarantee it. If you’ve read them, let me know what you thought in the comments! Happy reading!