Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR #1) by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR #1)
by Sarah J. Maas

Goodreads Link:

Recommended to Stacy by: Every blogger on the internet
Recommended for: fans of Sarah J. Maas, action-packed romance, and    1st-person POV stories
Read from May 04 to 21, 2015 — I own a copy, read count: 1

3.5 stars

Don't get me wrong, I liked A Court of Thorns and Roses (aka ACOTAR) by Sarah J. Maas - 3.5 stars is a positive rating; there were so many things to love, as there always are in her books. But there was one major element in this book that drove me so crazy that it tainted the reading experience to the point that I couldn't give it more than 3.5 stars.

Things I loved:

- the heart-wrenching, emotional writing: this is one of Sarah J. Maas's strongest talents! She utilizes her writing to reach into your chest, rip your heart out, and feed it to you, still warm, dripping, and beating. This book has a lot of emotional struggle, and I loved going through that with Feyre.

- using intelligence instead of magic. Feyre is just a regular girl: she's not magical; she has no special abilities; she's just like me - plain and ordinary. Yet when she has to face challenges, she uses her brain (most of the time) - there is an exception here and there where she gets "special" help from her friends, but for the most part, it's just her using logic to find a way out of the situation. And I really like that - a girl using her brain.

- steamy scenes!!! That was one thing that I missed most in Maas's Throne of Glass series. I mean we sort of get that broom closet scene, but it's just alluded to, not described in salacious, luscious details the way it was in ACOTAR. Kudos to Maas for going there - those scenes were very well written and thoroughly enjoyable.

- multiple male characters (Tamlin, Lucien, Rhysand, oh my!), but no love triangle (yet?). I'm not a fan of love triangles because they tend to take up plot time that could be better spent in action and/or steamy scenes. But the male characters were all there, and the tension was still compelling. And even though Rhysand and Tamlin were enemies, it wasn't a choice, per se. Feyre knew which man she wanted; there was never any doubt. But Rhysand and Lucien both helped to complicate the story line without making it about her choice between them. I am hopeful that love triangles will not appear in later installments, although there is definitely possibilities for one (or more), and that would be a bummer.

All of these factors were reasons to enjoy the book, and if it were just these factors, I'd probably give it 4 or 5 stars, but there were two major factors that ruined the love for me.

1. The pacing and build-up in the first 2/3 of the book was a bit slower than I'd prefer. I think this is because I knew something big was coming, and I just wanted to get there. Also, I think because I already knew the Beauty and the Beast plot line, I could anticipate the relationship that Maas was kindling. We know Beauty and Beast get together, so I knew what was coming in regards to the relationship. But the action was awesome. The last 1/3 of the book is non-stop action, so the pacing in that section was great. And even though there are bouts of action in the first 2/3s, the lulls were a bit too drawn out. Now, I must preface this by saying that life impeded by ability to read this more quickly. I think that had I been able to read it straight through and not have to drag it out over three weeks, I might not have noticed any problems with the pacing. But because life only allowed me to read this in short bursts over a longer period, I wanted to get to the action sooner. But this complaint would have only brought it down a half of a star, at the most, because when the action did come, it was nail-bitingly amazing (as always)!

2. The second complaint is what killed it for me - I have learned that I loath first-person point of view (POV) in action books!!! In contemporary love stories, maybe I could tolerate it, but in action books, it doesn't work for me. I get it: readers like to be in the character's head; they like to know the deep, down thoughts and feelings that sound awkward coming from an omniscient narrator. However, third-person limited (ala Harry Potter) still allows us to into their inner struggle without ruining the possibility of a negative outcome. See, in 1st-person POV, the narrator can't die because she is the one TELLING THE STORY!!! It kills the suspense. There she is, hanging in the balance, on the verge of dying or being killed, but the whole time, the logical side of my brain is screaming "SHE CAN'T REALLY DIE! SHE'S REPORTING THE PLOT, AND THERE ARE AT LEAST TWO MORE BOOKS LEFT!" In The Hunger Games, the 1st POV didn't bother me as much, even though Katniss was in danger of dying every other scene. I don't really know why it didn't irk me; probably because I hadn't read anything else quite like that before, and I was too distracted by the constant complicating action to pay attention to the POV. In Outlander, 1st POV didn't bug me because I was too diverted by all of the amazing historical research, steamy love scenes, and sublime diction to even think about Claire dying. And Diana Gabaldon switches to multiple POVs in book 2, Dragonfly in Amber, and all of the other POVs are 3rd person, so it doesn't bug me as much. In Divergent, however, much like in ACOTAR, the 1st POV drove me CRAZY!!! Veronica Roth even had to resort to changing the POV out of nowhere in book 3, Allegiant, because 1st POV limited her options when it came to the survival of Tris. And don't even get me started on how much I hated 1st POV in Karen Memory. I already ranted enough about the 1st POV problems in that book. The protagonist can't really die if she is the one reporting the story - there's always some convenient, illogical way around the main character dying, so it kills the suspense involved with fearing that the author might really "Kill her Darlings." Action/Fantasy/Dystopian/Sci-Fi authors should just stop using 1st-person POV all together. JUST. STOP!!! Stick to 3rd person: allow yourself the option to switch perspectives, build honest suspense, and kill your protagonist, if you want. 1st-person POV should be left to contemporaries or romances where you know there is no chance at all of killing off your main character. 1st POV works in love, but not in death, so stop. Stay in 3rd POV and make all of us looney lit majors happy. I realize that this is probably something that only someone like me would notice. I have spent my whole educational life studying literature and theory, and it has ruined me from enjoying well-written books that have only one minor issue. However, for me this POV issue is downright irksome, so much so that my mind constantly begrudges it the entire time, thereby ruining the entire reading experience. I wish I could turn of that voice that I was forced to develop during my years studying literary criticism and author's purpose, but I just can't. Therefore, when my brain latches onto a problem, like an impossible POVs, it haunts me through the whole book.

With that said, I will never quit on Sarah J. Maas. I will still read anything and everything she writes because I do adore her characters, her world-building, and her action scenes. But this one book (and possibly the whole series if it remains in 1st-person POV) wasn't my favorite. Hopefully you will be able to ignore the impossibilities that 1st POV create so that you can enjoy it more thoroughly. It's still a well-written, creative book, and I still recommend it, but I just wish it had been written in 3rd-person POV.

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