These ‘about me’ sections, or even sections that inform you about blogs, have never been my forte. Much to my chagrin, I was never taught the unwritten rules of what you are supposed to say. The links at the side of the blog – Twitter and Goodreads, for example – are liable to tell you more than I could ever say in words.

Mostly, this will be a book blog. I read a lot, and I love to share my views on my most recent reads. I try to read a little bit of everything, but if you look closely you’ll notice I will occasionally become obsessed with one specific genre for a short period of time. Old books, new books, yet to be released books – I read them all. If you’re an author looking for advance readers or just wish for more reviews of a book you’ve already released, please feel free to contact me. There is a contact form at the side of my blog – if you scroll down below the Twitter and Goodreads sidebar you will find it – so drop me a message and I’ll be sure to get back to you in double time. After all, finding new authors is what makes the book world go around.

Thanks for taking your time to read this. With a little bit of luck, you will find my blog much more interesting than this mundane introductory section.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin

A Court of Wings and Ruin A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have quite a lot to say about this one, so I’m going to apologise in advance if this review is all over the place.

A Court of Wings and Ruin brings the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy to an end. Although there are more books to come, it brings the original story to an end. There is enough left hanging in regards to secondary characters that you’re without answers to certain elements of the story and will therefore go and pick up the future books, but the main story reaches a conclusion. In all honesty, I’m not sure how I feel about this. I feel as though it’s a bit of a cheat to get you to purchase the future books in the series – but that could just be because my feelings towards Maas are not the same as the fandom (in other words, I’m not the kind to go crazy over her next release). I probably will read the books, although they will not be at the top of my to-read list.

As an ending, it was a decent enough end to the trilogy. It really wasn’t what I had expected it to be, and yet I was addicted to the story. If I’m being completely honest, at the start I feared I would be giving a three star rating, but by the end of the book it had become a four star rating. Mostly, this is because I went in expecting such high things. I positively adored A Court of Mist and Fury, and went into this one expecting a real high. I expected things to be even better in this one… yet it wasn’t quite the same. To me, this one felt somewhat off at times – it’s hard to explain, yet I wasn’t sucked in and all lovey eyed as I was with book two. I noticed more things in this one that didn’t seem quite right, things that left me thinking.

I’m not about to be one of those Maas haters, before people start a rant on my review. I’m simply going to point out why I didn’t love this one as much as I enjoyed the prior book. I like the books Maas has released, yet I do not idolise her in the way some do. I hold her to the same standard I hold every author. She has good points and she has bad points, but as a whole I enjoy her work. A part of me still believes she is overrated in a number of ways, but I will continue to read her work – if only because I need to see how Throne of Glass finishes.

My first point is going to be an issue I have with all of her books: it was so slow at the start. Every Maas book I have picked up, I have had this issue. I’m especially disappointed with this one because of the way book two ended. It was a massive bang, it had such promise… then the first part of this book seemed to drag. It wasn’t the crazy drama I had been hoping for; it seemed to be ambling along without a care in the world. I wanted action sooner, and I wanted more drama. Thus, I wasn’t content at first. It took far too long, in my opinion for things to really get going.

You see, the acronym for this book includes ‘war’, thus I expected a war-filled book. After all, that is what we’ve been working toward throughout the series. Yet it wasn’t a book of war. We had a lot of politics, and we had a lot of planning. Whilst these things are important, the ratio was off. The book is a decent enough length, yet I felt as though the actual war made up very little of the book. To me, this felt like a pacing issue. We spent forever on build up only for the war to be over in a blink of the eye.

I enjoyed the war aspect, I cannot deny that (even if a certain element gave me Throne of Glass vibes), but I wanted it to be longer. I wanted to spend as long fighting the good fight as we spent planning for the fight. I wanted a real blood bath. I wanted to be ripped apart as hundreds of pages left us unsure of who would survive and whom we’d be saying goodbye to. I’m a massive lover of war scenes in fantasy books, hence my high expectations. What I was given, it wasn’t quite the war I had wanted.

It wasn’t simply a case of the war being disproportional to the rest of the book. It was the fact there was no major heartbreak. It was unrealistic for everyone to come out okay. Every time you thought that the heartbreak would happen there was another loophole found. It annoyed me, if I’m honest. I get it that you become attached to characters, yet I cannot accept that everyone walked out perfect fine. Hell, in some cases they walked out of what happened better than how they walked in. I like these kinds of things to be deep and emotional and I like to see the effects of war, instead everyone was okay. It seemed far too peachy for my liking.

Add in the fact that everyone seemed to find redemption in this book and I wasn’t happy. Honestly, it annoyed me how everyone seemed to be a good guy. Oh, we still have one bad guy – of course we need someone to battle against – but so much time had been spent building up to certain characters being evil, that I felt let down when we found out it was all about helping the greater cause. Playing evil to help the side of good. It is perfectly fine for one or two characters to have such a change, yet everyone was saved in this. As I said about the lack of death, it was far too peachy.

I guess I’m annoyed this book wasn’t darker. There are quite a lot of darker elements dealt with throughout this series, and I guess Maas was aiming for that happily ever after. It was too happy for me, though. Even in light there will be some dark, and it felt as though the sun was so bright even the shadows were extinguished in this one. I just wanted that one bit of heartbreak, that one thing to make it feel truly emotional for me.

Before people point it out there was that one death, I’d like to argue it really wasn’t as emotional as it could have been. The character arrived and died. It wasn’t a main character we were deeply attached to, and it’s those losses that hit hard. This seemed to be a token death, because nobody we knew seemed to be dropping. An afterthought of ‘oh, someone we’ve seen in the prior books should probably kick the bucket, just to prove war does kill those we know’.

Speaking of tokens, I wish to address an issue everyone seems to be getting involved with – the diversity. I’m not going to say much, as I know it’s a massive debate, and it’s one that I have no wish to start a riot over, but I will say one thing. It felt as though Maas tried too hard for the diversity. It felt as though everyone that was introduced was diverse in some way. Diversity should flow smoothly, yet with this it felt as though we were being reminded it does exist at every turn. It felt as though people were being introduced purely to show diversity – a case of ‘look at him, he is diverse in this way; look at her, she is diverse in this way; look at them, they are diverse in these ways’. I have nothing against diversity, I welcome it, yet it felt forced here.

Okay, I feel as though I’m only pointing out what I disliked. As the four stars show, I did enjoy this one.

First up on the list of things I liked – there was a decrease in the awkward sex scenes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I do not like such scenes when Maas writes them. They feel like too much. I have enough erotica on my Kindle to know I enjoy such scenes, but when Maas writes such scenes I feel uncomfortable. Thus, the decrease in this book was fine by me.

Second is that we finally got to spend some time with all of the courts. I’ve been curious about them since the first book, and they were all given personality in this one. It was a lot of fun to get to know them all, to see the way they all work. It wasn’t just the courts that developed, though, as a wide variety of characters from the prior books grow more solid in this one.

Third is that I was addicted once the story got going. I went from trudging through the first couple of hundred pages, to completing the last five hundred in a single sitting. It was a good job I wasn’t at work, as I could just sit down and experience it all. Because when things were happening, I was pulled into all that was going on.

Fourth is that I was content with the way everything ended. I would have liked more details on where the future will take us, but I feel as though such ties in with needing to read the other books that are to be released. As an end to where this particular story arc was going, I was happy enough. There was overcoming bad guys, there were signs for a better future, and we got an indication of a happily ever after.

Overall, it was a decent enough ending for this story arc. It wasn’t what I had hoped it would be, but I came to enjoy it a lot more than I’d anticipated when I realised the direction it was going in.

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