I did it. I finished ACOWAR, despite trying to restrain myself and savor it. But curiosity got the best of me and I sped through it. I’m gonna give you some of my thoughts on it now and the first part of this piece will be absolutely SPOILER FREE for those of you who have not read it yet. Then, I will move on to the spoilery bit of the review, because I think it’s impossible for me to actually talk about ACOWAR without divulging some information.
I gave A Court of Wings and Ruin a 4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads and I don’t feel bad about it. I was so sure that I would give this book 5 out of 5 that there was literally no doubt in my mind as to how much I would love it. But there were some aspects of the story and the character development that made it impossible for me to give a top rating and remain honest. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the book. I just didn’t love it as much as ACOMAF and not nearly as much as I hoped I would. And I thought that it might be the fact that I overhyped it in my mind, but there are actually specific bits that really rubbed me the wrong way.
I actually quite liked Feyre’s character development. She was strong, devoted, loyal and very much still flawed. And that is what makes her so relatable. She feels like she finally has a family that she actually belongs to – one that understands her and loves her for who she is. And she is willing to do whatever it takes to protect them from the evil that is coming. But she does not always make the right choices and she admits to it, learning to see the ugliness within herself, accept it and love it.
The Spring Court
The first few chapters of the book, show us Feyre who is back in The Spring Court as a spy, trying to figure out Tamlin’s involvement with Hybern and what their next move would be. In the meantime, she is sneakily making sure to crumble the court from the inside. Her creativity in regards to her techniques was truly entertaining to read. At certain points, I didn’t necessarily agree with her tactics, but she felt remorse for them afterward, which made her character even more alive in my mind. While reading these first chapters, I couldn’t believe that Tamlin didn’t see right through her and realize what she was doing. But the feeling I got was that maybe he didn’t want to. Which was heartbreaking. I kinda feel for poor Tam. Even if his actions this far have been moronic….
I really REALLY enjoyed reading about the war. The tactics, the deception, the strategizing and the pain. I feel like the first part of the book was the calm before the storm and then all hell broke loose. But Mor, Feyre and Nesta were all integral parts of the war machine. They did not shy away from helping any way they could and I truly admired the courage. The descriptive power of the battlefield scenes was incredible. The smells, the colors and the feelings made me really imagine the gruesome picture and that was without SJM actually having to name injuries. Reading about the battles was intense and made me feel like I needed to know what would happen out of fear that one of my favorite characters wouldn’t make it.
This is one of the things that I did not quite agree with. I am all for diversity in literature and especially YA, but this just felt really forced. Sarah J. Maas has been receiving negative feedback over the years about the lack of diversity in her books and it looks like she wanted to fix that. However, making sure that we knew certain characters were attracted to the same gender, became the unsolicited focal point of too many scenes, making it seem like something not normal. She did not necessarily put an emphasis on the sexuality of the heterosexual characters, putting the ones who feel differently, on the spotlights.
I never thought I would say this in a million years. because Rhys was one of my favorite characters of all time. He was witty, smart, cunning, loyal and powerful. In ACOWAR he’s lost most of that. He’s still powerful and smart, but the wittiness is gone and so are most of the aspects that made his such a loved character. We knew that he was willing to sacrifice himself for those he loved in the previous books, but in ACOWAR, Sarah J. Maas made it seem that his willingness to give up his life is the main thing about him. And it wasn’t about the noble sacrifice. It was so often repeated, that it almost made it sound like Rhys had a death wish. And everyone was worried that he’d take on too much to protect them because he was so selfless. Sadly, I don’t think that was the most enigmatic part of him and I was quite sad to see this amazing character having been turned into nothing more than a shell of what he was in the previous books.
SPOILERS AHEAD! SPOILERS AHEAD! DO NOT CONTINUE IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK!
Honestly, the ending of this book was really not satisfying. I almost felt like it was the ending of a cheesy Holywood movie or a fairytale. Just as everything seems lost, aid comes and all the characters that sacrificed themselves were brought back in the span of a few pages. Rhys’s death was more than expected as there were constant reminders of his selflessness throughout the entire book. The fact that he was brought back to life the same way that Feyre was, was supposed to be climactic, but I thought that we could have suffered a bit more. I am so happy that Rhys was alive at the end, but I felt like his death (which lasted a couple of pages) was absolutely unnecessary. Like there was no need for his death in regards to story development, but it was only there for dramatic effect. I’ll proudly admit that I did cry when it happened and I thought “Wow, Sarah J. Maas just did it again!”. But then I read a bit more and the whole thing was fixed.
Also, I no longer hate Tamlin. I feel like the poor guy is just delusional but not necessarily as bad as he was painted to be in the previous book. Seeing that he actually cared enough to not only save Feyre but also help save Rhys, showed that he loved her in his own way. Yes, he was abusive and controlling, etc. but he redeemed himself somewhat. The fact that both Tamlin and Jurian were double agents seemed a bit too much to me at the time, but that is mostly because I was excited to see the span of Jurian’s powers, which never really happened. The king of Hybern is and will forever remain a prick in my mind and I think anyone who has read the book would agree. But the most satisfying part? Ianthe’s death. Am I right or am I right?