Book Review: A Court of Thorns & Roses

Many people suggested A Court of Thorns and Roses to me, so I’m very hesitant reviewing it because my review is sadly not glowing…in fact I was really disappointed by this book. I tried to go in with no expectations; I had approached The Cruel Prince by Holly Black with misgivings (a modern fairytale) and was pleasantly surprised. So based on that experience I decided I shouldn’t be too quick to judge books that blend modern and fantasy, or re-tellings of well known stories. So many people had glowing things to stay about A Court of Thorns and Roses (or ACOTAR as it is commonly referred to online, because woah is it popular! my TikTok is full of references to ACOTAR) that I really felt like at the worst it would be like An Enchantment of Ravens; a good book but not my favorite because there were just elements of the story that weren’t my style. Sometimes you can recognize a book is good without it being particularly your favorite, but ACOTAR I honestly don’t feel is a good book.
ACOTAR is a creative re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, at least the first book in the series is a spin on that classic story—the rest of the series diverges quite a bit. While it is a loose re-telling of that story it is honestly a very original book. I did enjoy the freshness of the story; I think the plot and the twists were unexpected. I also think the books got stronger as the series went on. Sarah J. Maas did an excellent job at creating a very original series—she has excellent world building skills, great imagination, interesting characters, etc.
What let the book down honestly is the writing and the poorly developed characters. It’s simply not well written. I know it is a young adult book, so I’m not expecting complicated language, but I’ve read many young adult and children’s books that are better than this. I think one of the weakest things with the book was the way it always stated things rather than revealed them to us through the character’s actions or scenes. We know Elain is supposedly soft and good and should be protected at all costs because Nesta and Feyre say she is, but what does Elain do? Beg for money from her sister for new shoes when the family is literally starving and contributes nothing to the family’s survival. I found her extremely unlikeable and could not understand why everyone was so protective of her. A good person even one who is shy and sweet still tries to GIVE back rather than take; Elain never demonstrates a generous spirit. This contradiction between how a character is perceived and described and how they actually act is consistent throughout the series. In a later book we are told the Night Court is a terrible, horrible place, but when they visit literally nothing terrible or horrible happens there. Apparently everyone is just hanging out eating and drinking? What exactly was so terrifying about this place? This is a consistent problem throughout this book and the series; in fact to believe what we are told about certain characters we pretty much need to ignore certain actions they do. There’s also an overuse of the term “purring” when it comes to describing how the male characters talk…
Overall I think Sarah J Maas had some fun ideas to re-tell Beauty & the Beast and craft a unique world. However the writing doesn’t live up to the ideas and it made it difficult to actually immerse yourself in the world and the characters. I read three books in the series because I was intrigued by the characters and overall storyline, but I didn’t really enjoy the books and I think this is one author I’ll be avoiding in the future. I liked elements of the story but not enough to recommend the book or series.


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