YA Weekend: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of MidnightCrown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: Book 2 of Throne of Glass

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children (August 27, 2013)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Behold, the Young Adult sequel. This is where the real test is for me. First books of a series have the advantage of being new and shiny, and I can usually be won over by the prospect of exploring a brand new world full of fresh and interesting ideas. Second books admittedly have to work a little harder, not only because my expectations are higher now, but also because so many sequel plots invariably end up falling into a very predictable pattern.

So how does Crown of Midnight stack up? Well, in a nutshell, I can’t say it wowed me, and I probably liked it less than the first book. That being said though, I think it’s better than a lot of YA sequels, and despite the shameless rehashing of some of the same tired old tropes, there were still a couple of big surprises that kept the story entertaining.

The bottom line is, I am so done with YA romances. Girl meets boy, and if by book two they haven’t fallen in love already, this is where they will do so. Then invariably, boy will go and do something incredibly dumb – the result of a momentary lapse of judgment or just a gross failure of miscommunication – which causes girl to go ballistic on boy, throwing the entire future of their relationship in question, thereby also keeping the tension of a possible love triangle alive for just teensy bit longer. I can effortlessly name a handful of YA series that follow this pattern just off the top of my head, so I wasn’t surprised to see Crown of Midnight follow suit. Overused formulas suck. They have turned the romantic aspect into the weakest part the book. Nothing kills my enthusiasm and interest in the characters faster. And unfortunately, the book spends way too much time trying to shove the drama of Celaena and Chaol’s relationship down my throat. Maybe I’m just a bitter, jaded curmudgeon, but I just can’t find it in myself to care about such an artificial pairing.

But that’s my rant and the last of the negativity you’ll hear from me. Apart from my issues with the romance, Crown of Midnight was actually a pretty good book. Celaena has won the contest and become the king’s Champion and assassin, but instead of carrying out the king’s orders, she finds increasingly more ways to secretly fight back against his evil will, letting her intended victims go instead (ever notice how YA assassin characters actually do very little killing?) It was a relatively slow plod through the first half of the book, but once you get past this stage with its many clichés and run-of-the-mill romance, things will start to pick up.

I have to say, the plot elements in the later parts saved this book for me. The structure of the story remains somewhat predictable, but it always impresses me to see all the amazing things a writer can do while staying within a certain framework. The second half of the Crown of Midnight becomes a lot more bold and daring, which are certainly qualities I admire in a YA novel. There were a couple of unexpected developments, darker places I didn’t think the book would go. Once the pesky romance was out of the way, you started to get a lot less fluff and a lot more substance. Sarah J. Maas seriously ups her game, building up her world by weaving history and lore and magic into the story, dialing up the intrigue and mystery.

So all right then, sign me up for the third book. Despite a shaky start to this sequel, Maas has built something worthy of continuing with here, and has done some incredible things with her main character. I probably won’t hold my breath for the romantic aspect to improve, but thank goodness there’s so much more to like about this story. It’s definitely going places (literally!) and I look forward to visiting a new setting in the next installment as well as seeing the outcomes of several massive revelations.

4 stars

19 Comments on “YA Weekend: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas”

    • Yes, it’s near impossible to pick up a YA book these days that doesn’t have romance. I’m just going to ignore that aspect when I’m reading them from now on.

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  1. I’ll have to let you finish this one for me. I was so tired of this little threesome and unimpressed by the predictable plot and Batman-esque action. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t enough to keep me around.

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    • I think there are…5, 6 books planned for this series? I’ll give Book 3 a shot when it comes out this fall and see how it goes from there!

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  2. You a ” a bitter, jaded curmudgeon” I totally think not. Based on ask the reviews I’ve read of yours over the past year, you love a good romance. You just expect it to BE A good romance if it’s a focus. I’m definitely still looking forward to reading the series. I’m hopeful I’ll enjoy it especially since it’s six books I think instead of three. Hopefully it isn’t just two trilogy in one.

    I think many of the YA romances are similar to adult romance genre a way that i think those genre fans enjoy the same story and over and over. I do enjoy eating the same meal every time I go to a restaurant. Maybe it’s something like that. Personally I don’t like that in my books though.

    Ok maybe we need to keep you away from the YA for a year or two…and give you only Pyr and : Jo Fletcher YA.

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    • No, you’re right – I do love romances! I just miss the feeling of being surprised 🙂 Love should be more spontaneous, more organic! Something is definitely wrong if I can predict the progression of a relationship based on book number, lol.

      There will probably be less YA Weekends on tap now…I’m probably going to polish off whatever I still have in my book pile and then I’m going to be a bit pickier about my YA reads.

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      • I agree with Tabitha. I do enjoy a GOOD romance, it doesn’t have to be a new concept every time but it needs new elements and new personalities and to spark something in the area where my withered heart rests 😛

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  3. Oh I have book 1 and 2 because my friend loved them but I really need to get into them! I’m so curious, everyone love them! I’m glad you had a great time as well.

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  4. You know what, now that you mention it, I can’t think of a single YA assassin who actually goes around killing people. While I haven’t read this one yet, I read Throne of Glass earlier this year and have a pretty good idea of where some plot lines are headed. Once I read this one we’ll have to chat about Celaena’s heritage, because it’s pretty obvious where that’s going (at least, I think it is…).

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    • Haha, oh yes…VERY obvious! I didn’t really write anything about that in my review for fear of spoilers, but…well, you’re right, is it really a spoiler when pretty much everyone saw it coming? 😉

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    • Same here, I tend to gravitate towards books that fall in that sweet spot of being very popular but at the same time aren’t drowning in hype – and this was one of those series. It has been pretty enjoyable so far 🙂

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  5. HA. I thought I was the only person who didn’t like the second book as much as the first. My reasons were similar to yours, but I don’t object to romance (in general) as much as you do. I just felt the inevitable getting together, but only for a blink, and then BOOM was a bit OTT. But the BOOM is what heralded the badassery, and proved that Celaena was in fact an assassin who killed and ruthlessly, so while I didn’t appreciate the means, I definitely appreciated the end. I think you’ll like book 3. It got off to a bit of a slow start for me, but from 20(ish)% onward it was pure Maas awesomeness.

    BTW–I don’t know if you’ve read the prequels/object to novellas, etc., but at the very least, I recommend reading The Assassin and the Desert before you read Heir of Fire. Lots of things happen in that novella that are important in book 3, and there are MANY hints of future important things.

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    • No, you definitely aren’t the only one! Actually, very rarely do I like a book two of a YA trilogy as much or more than the first. Usually, the sequel is when the story falls into a more predictable pattern and/or the shiny of the world wears off a little and it’s hard to keep up that momentum. You put it much better than me – I took enjoyed the ends, but was meh on the means. Just way too hammy and forced for me. Glad to hear that book 3 was good – I’m a bit curious how I’ll take it since it’s not a trilogy so there’s a lot more to come and anything can happen. I’m typically not one to do novellas or shorts because I’m of the mind that they should never be “required reading” but maybe I will see if I can get my hands on a copy of The Assassin and the Desert if it’s important for book 3 – I don’t mind background info or hints!

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