Before I get into this, let me say that there will not even be the tiniest hint of a spoiler in this review. Someone on Goodreads ruined the end of this book for me before I could get to it and it made me so cross. I HATE spoilers. So this review will not mention any plot details, and will focus instead on the writing/how the book was executed. Never fear book dragons, I got your back!
Secondly, I know that this series tends to divide readers a lot. Some people think it’s the best thing ever, others hate it. Some of those haters even go so far as to shame the readers who enjoy these books. I fit into none of these categories. I do not buy into the incredible amount of hype surrounding these books. I happened to read the first two during a difficult time and they provided me with just the escape I needed. I enjoyed them and wanted to see how the story would end. I wasn’t going to avoid reading them because of the hype but, equally, the hype is not the reason I did read them. Any reading is a positive thing; books are books, and no-one should be made to feel ashamed for reading what they enjoy.
Now that we’ve got that straightened out, time for the review!
I find the ACOTAR series compulsively readable. The books (particularly the second and this third instalment) are very fast-paced and very easy to get through. That said, I had a LOT of issues with this book. I feel like a lot of the elements I enjoyed in the first two books had been lost and there were a lot of things in this book that I found questionable; for example, certain characters seemed to have undergone drastic personality changes and were no longer the people I had come to know. I found the characterisation to be inconsistent at times; whether this was due to the length of this book compared to the previous two or the pressure Sarah J. Maas was under to produce something so epic, I don’t know. Thankfully, I still love the inner circle; I have a particular soft spot for Amren!
There were a few plot choices I didn’t agree with or that I found slightly lazy, and at the same time, I felt cheated by the first person narrative that made it impossible to expand on certain aspects of the story. Also, considering this was the final book in the trilogy, there were a lot of loose ends left dangling. Maybe they will be addressed in the newer books that are planned, but it seemed a little sloppy to me to leave it like that.
In terms of the writing itself, I felt like the book could have used more editing. There was a lot of repetition, with certain terms and phrases being used over and over again, sometimes within two pages of each other. I found the lack of question marks to be highly frustrating – questions don’t end with a fullstop! There were also one or two quotes that bordered on plagiarism of other books/movies, which I thought was a bit risky and careless. A slight rewording would have made me happier.
Ok, I didn’t realise I had so many negative feelings towards this book! Let’s balance it out and get a bit more positive.
A lot of readers have commented on the lack of diversity in Maas’ work and its token inclusion in this book. This was something I actually didn’t have too much of a problem with. I didn’t feel like there was a distinct lack of diversity in the previous two books (I don’t think any more should have been added just for the sake of it; what difference would it have made to the story?) That said, I thought the diversity that was represented in this book was very cool.
I also think Maas has done a great job of representing PTSD/recovery from abuse throughout this series. This is a topic that is not often represented well (if at all) in contemporary books, let alone fantasy. So I find it admirable that Sarah gave such a positive representation of a difficult subject and conveyed the message that recovery is possible and abuse does not have to define you.
Wow, this review came out much more negative (and longer) than I intended! (Please don’t hate me, those of you who are devoted followers of Queen Maas!) Despite the issues I had with this book, I still found it to be an enjoyable read and, considering it is one page shy of 700, it didn’t take me as long to read it as I thought it would. I believe this is testimony to the ease of reading which Sarah’s books provide. Yes, they’re a bit trashy but they’re good fun. I’m sure most readers will agree that ACOMAF was the best book out of the trilogy, yet this was still a decent ending all things considered. If only it hadn’t been ruined by a careless Goodreads comment!
Does anyone else have any thoughts on this one? Feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss anything I’ve mentioned, or to ask which specific plot details I had issues with!