Audiobook Rant-View: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and RosesGenre: Romance, Fantasy

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s (May 5, 2015)

Information: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Tiara’s Rating: 1 of 5 stars

 

This is awkward.

This book is problematic. Your fav is problematic.

oh

Thanks for the term “rant-view,” Wendy. 😉

This contains spoilers, so turn back now if you plan to read this book or just don’t want to see me ranting.

Side Note to Parents: This book is published by a children’s line. This is ABSOLUTELY not for children, though. The following is an example of problems I’ve had on many sites. Notice that the age range for this kids section is 0-10. The second book in this series (along with many other YA series I wouldn’t allow my 7-year-old to read) are included in the kids section. So be vigilant, parents.

kids After hearing about Sarah Maas’ books from many people including friends and other bloggers, I figured I’d stop resisting and give one of her novels a try. However, I wanted to start with something different than the usual books I see everyone reading, which seems to be Throne of Glass. I picked this book up during an Audible sale and sort of let it bake on my TBR pile, but queued it up when my romance book club chose this as its read. I am ashamed to admit that I voted for as well.

While I had some issues with this book in the beginning, I thought it was well-written, and I liked that it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and the Ballad of Tam Lin (even the main male character is named Tamlin, get it?). I thought I could be forgiving, though. I pledged to be kinder to Young Adult (New Adult, whatever you want to call this trash) Fantasy books this year after all. Also, I loved Beauty and the Beast as a kid, and I thought I was getting this.

Beauty and the Beast.gif

In fact, this book started out with that, but then it went downhill from there, especially around the last third of the book. I’m too agitated with this book to be bothered with summing this book up in my own words, so have a Goodreads description:

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

I was about halfway into this book when I realized something.

Made a Mistake.gif

Feyre begins this book with agency. She’s the daughter of a family that has squandered its fortune. Before her mother dies, a mother who couldn’t be bothered with her children, she makes Feyre promise to look after the remaining members of her family. Feyre was nine when she made this promise. She has an older sister, a younger sister, and a father, but her mother made a nine-year-old promise to take care of the family. It’s a promise that Feyre clings to ridiculously because promises mean something in this world, except we’re never actually shown anything that backs this claim up other than Feyre saying this. Anyway, to keep to this promise, Feyre learns to hunt and take care of her ungrateful family whose reasoning for being shit is they knew Feyre would take care of them. This life has made Feyre hard and cynical, and those were things I actually liked about her character. I won’t say that her agency is taken away from her completely during the course of the story, but it is crippled significantly by the direction Maas chooses to take with the love interests.

This book exemplifies all the issues that I have with romantic relationships in young adult fantasy books and why I tend to keep away from the genre. Up to the moment I read this book, the one of the worst love interests I’d encountered in this genre was Kerrick from  Maria V. Snyder’s Touch of Power, and you know what? I still gave that book 3 stars. I gave a book that featured an Asshole Love Interest who starved the main female character, tied the main female character to a tree in the cold, and tried to walk the main female character to exhaustion 3 stars. I was pained to give this even 1 star. Think on that.

The Asshole Love Interest is one that I often struggle with in YA fantasy where I don’t struggle as much in other genres, even other YA books, because in this medium they’re often given excuses to act in the worst way possible and not actually atone for their actions. In fact, the main female character and readers are often asked to sympathize with these characters and their behavior, and this book took that to a very disturbing extreme. In general, I don’t have a problem with the Asshole Love Interest (I mean, I married my Asshole Love Interest, and we’ve been together 16 years), but there’s a fine line between being a sexy Asshole Love Interest and being a gross Asshole Love Interest. Tamlin is not the Asshole Love Interest of this book, even though he has his moments, and I was actually grateful for a relationship that seemed fairly healthy with a few hiccups because there’s not enough of those in books. It’s not until the introduction of another possible male love interest, Rhysand, that things go from a bit problematic at times to outright gross.

Feyre being slipped the equivalent of a date rape drug by Rhys and paraded around in see-through clothing (with a painted body nonetheless, so he can know when someone touches her) while being made to entertain Rhys in front of Tamlin is not okay. Keeping her drugged out of her mind for days is not okay. Being branded and robbed of her privacy is not okay. Being told that all the gross things she had to endure was a way of saving her and she should be grateful is not okay. None of this is okay, and it’s not sexy. And these are just a couple of examples. Tamlin is not excluded from gross behavior even though he was far less likely to engage in it. He seemed to have some issues with the word “no.” Thinking to herself that she does want Tamlin does not negate the verbal “no” she gives him during a scene after the rave party. He is not a mind reader, and “no” is not a negotiable phrase. The book coming from her point of view where she thinks she may enjoy some things while she absolutely despises others does not make any of this okay.

Aside from the date rape drug, there are  hundreds of ways that Maas could’ve made some of these things actually “sexy with a hint of conflict” without writing them the way she did. There’s plenty of stories featuring similar things where consent works into the story without breaking whatever fantasy element she’s going for here. She does have plenty of sensual moments between Feyre/Tamlin and even a few between Feyre/Rhys, but the overall feel of this is just disgusting. To top it all off, Feyre isn’t allowed many avenues to express any genuine dissatisfaction with her treatment other than some throwaway statements here and that that she eventually bites back because BIG SCARY FAE PEOPLE, but yet she’ll ask a million mindless questions and not care if she pisses off the BIG SCARY FAE PEOPLE. Neither does any real remorse ever factor in. You know what a normal person would say to their tormentor if they told them they drugged them and treated them like a toy for their own good? “Get bent, you stupid son-of-a-bitch.” You know what Feyre says? She hugs the guy and thanks him or something. I can’t even. I won’t even with this series.

Upset

 

This book borders on sexual battery at the least. This is sexual abuse/misconduct no matter how you try to pretty it up as “sexy.” There’s a reason we continue to have open dialogue about problematic topics in literature such as this that seems to praise the kind of gross behavior that devalues its characters and readers. Am I saying that you have to stop reading your fav? No. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with pointing out your fav is being reprehensible instead of glorifying it or trying to ignore it happened. I’m not going to chew you out for your high ratings of this book because I have favs, too, that are problematic. Favs can be problematic, too. Just acknowledge it when they are. Don’t pretend it’s not happening or acknowledge it’s happening, but then turn into an apologist for the problems.

dont

Compound all this with the fact that Maas pulled a total Twilight by having Feyre become a fae. She wasn’t good enough as a human, so let’s not allow her to be that anymore. This can only work if she’s fae, amirite? Any good feelings I had about the book were effectively decimated by the ending of the book. I’ll still concede that Maas has a way with words. The only truly good thing about this book, other than her way with words, was the narration, which I loved. Jennifer Ikeda’s reading is probably a huge reason why I didn’t just give this up around the 75% mark. Other than that, this book is the absolute worst when it could’ve been the absolute best thing I read this year.

FINAL RATING:

UGH

Rating: Godfuckingdammit!

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33 Comments on “Audiobook Rant-View: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

    • This was my first and last book by this author. Others have said she uses similar angles in her other books, so I’m just not going to put myself through this with her.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. If you hated ACOTAR, don’t touch its sequel, ACOMAF because it’s even worse. I gave ACOTAR 2 stars and I really disliked it but ACOMAF is another level of stupid. And Tamlin and Rhys switch role, the first one becomes the asshole and the second, the knight in shining armor. Also it’s 640 pages and the last 150 pages or so are just badly written sex scenes, they were just cringeworthy really. Ugh, I just want to forget it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It somehow manages to get worse? I’m not surprised. A couple of fans tried to tell me, “You should give the second book a chance. It makes up for the shortcomings of the first.” I wasn’t falling for that. I had such a strong negative reaction to this one that I didn’t see the second one making up for that. I hate that, too, when authors switch roles so significantly to make us warm up to another character (or hate a character who was okay). I will not be reading more of this or Maas either.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I read all the books out in The Throne of Glass series, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first book but the second one was at least an improvement and I hoped that it would be the case with this series too but, oh well… And Maas clearly loves switching “ships”, I think that she gets bored way too easily with her male characters; in almost all of the ToG books, Celeana, the main protagonist, has a new love interest… It’s not even a love triangle anymore, it’s more of a love-diamond 😛

        Liked by 1 person

    • If this is what I can expect in her other books, it’s better for me to not even put myself through the pain. This book could easily go into the top worst books I’ve ever read.

      Like

  2. Thank you for writing this (so I didn’t have to). I passed on the second one, because no matter how great “Rhys” is in it (according to some). It does NOT excuse his behavior in this one. When will women writers quit undermining “NO means NO”? Sorry for the mini-rant, but this is a hot button topic for me.

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    • I actually had an even longer rant planned, but I trimmed it down a lot. I can’t agree more with your assessment of women writers and the word “no.” We’re already living in a culture that thinks that what women say shouldn’t be taken at face value, that we don’t know what we want or what we mean or what we feel. Books like this just further make the word “no” appear to be a dubious statement, something that can be ignored, rather than a firm statement. I’m getting angry all over again just thinking about it again. Grrr!

      Like

  3. As I read your description of the book I was beside myself with anger – and it was only a summary: I can only imagine how angry and teeth-baring frustrated you must have felt actually *reading* it. This goes even beyond the usual norm of YA themes that make me roll my eyes and run in the opposite direction as fast as I can: this is a terrible example of a horrid mind-set, and the fact that it’s addressed to a younger audience (seriously????) makes those narrative choices even worse. IMHO even good writing cannot balance this out…
    Thanks for a great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • For about 50% of the book, I was actually mostly okay. There were some thing that had me raising my eyebrow, but not anything that would just make me rage until about 50% in and then by the end I was almost blind with fury. I complained for days to anyone who would listen about this book, mainly Wendy. LOL. I don’t get it being put in the 0-10 age range books. There is somewhat graphic sex in this book. I’d hate for a parent to accidentally pick it up and give it to a 10-year-old. This goes to show how little book dealers know about the stuff they’re peddling.

      Like

    • Oh, did mean to mention that the one good thing I did get from this book is a new talented narrator to check out. LOL.

      Like

  4. It’s good to see I wasn’t the only one completely disgusted with Rhys. It’s unforgivable what he did in this book, I can’t believe they’re romanticizing that shit. Even just a hit of it is inexcusable. I’ve never wanted to slap a character more so than when Feyre started making googly eyes at him even after she knew what he had done. Other than that, I didn’t hate this book as utterly as you did, so I’ll probably check out the sequel if I have time. I’ll let you know what I think, lol.

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    • Ugh, Rhys was the absolute worst part of the book. I was foaming at the mouth by the end of this. LOL. I sort of liked Feyre at the beginning, but by the end, it felt so stupid and unrealistic for her to be as accepting of all this crap as she was. I’ll definitely look forward to hearing what you think if you do read the sequel. I think I’m pretty much done with anything by Maas. This soured me completely.

      Like

  5. I hold my hands up – I quite enjoyed this! And now I feel kind of guilty! I must admit though – there is no way this is YA. None. Rhys, well I was kind of hoping that even though he was being a massive dickhead it was an act that he was putting on – but I can’t remember now whether that train of thought ever followed through. All that being said I haven’t rushed out yet to pick up a copy of No.2.
    Lynn 😀

    Like

    • Although I did think it was horrible, I would like to compliment you for being brave enough to express a contrary opinion. I was just reading a discussion (which I agreed with) by AJ Sterkel @ Read All Thing about how difficult that is to do sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I think this post makes some excellent points to be honest and I’m almost puzzled by why I didn’t pick up on more of this when I was reading it or feel more annoyed – but there it is. Puzzling but true.
        Lynn 😀

        Liked by 2 people

    • There’s no need to feel guilty. As I said in my review, I’m not saying you shouldn’t like the book or the author shouldn’t be a favorite. She’s hardly the only writer who has written something problematic. I just wished more people would acknowledge that it’s okay to be a fan of someone or something, but still hold it accountable. Anyhow, I seem to be in the small minority who absolutely hates this book anyway. LOL.

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      • Don’t get me wrong – you’re not making me feel guilty – I’m really good at doing that all by myself! 😀 (And perhaps ‘guilty’ is the wrong word anyway because it makes me sound as though I’ve done something wrong – I think on reflection ‘puzzled’ is a better term. Seriously though, it’s interesting how a book can affect everyone so differently. I get incensed about all sorts of issues and yet this book didn’t seem to raise that anger in me at all and I guess I find that intriguing. It makes me almost want to go back and read the last third!
        Lynn 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, other than dickbag Rhys, I quite enjoyed myself with this book. While I really could have really done without the “faux-mance” and all the men in this book, the beginning was great and the trials that Feyre had to go through were really exciting. I’m also reading her Throne of Glass series which is entertaining, though it has its ups and downs. Not giving up on Maas at all, though like you it’s not like I’ve been tripping over myself to pick up A Court and Mist and Fury either 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, wow! 😀 Yeah, I see where you’re coming from. I just received Book 2 of this series in the mail and I needed a sort of reminder of what happened in Book 1 and you summed it up really well. I have to say that I did read this in something like 3 days, it has a good flow (or maybe my mood was right) but I cringed a lot when I read it.

    I have a love-hate relationship with Maas. I thought her first two books of the Throne of Glass series were over-hyped but I liked them enough to keep going. Then I LOVED Heir of Fire, I really enjoyed it and so Queen of Shadows – and ACOTAR – came as MASSIVE disappointments. The characters made nonsensical choices, their development was shit and yeah, the relationships between men and women (or males and females, as she calls them, if I remember correctly?) are horrible and so, so problematic if you think that this is marketed as YA.

    So why am I still reading her books? Eh. I’m a sucker for hype, apparently, and I’m on a mission to finish more series. Plus I have to know what everyone’s talking about. But I’ll be super reluctant to start any new series she writes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was a fairly quick listen for me. I finished it in about 3-4 days listening to it at a casual pace. I can’t fault anyone for wanting to finish series. I’ve done the same thing until I just couldn’t for some books. I’m a completionist, so I totally understand it. However, I think this one time that I’ll content myself to just reading what everyone else thinks of her books. After some things others have said in the same vein about how some of her books are great and some are just not, I thought I’d just get a good laugh out of it for being ridiculous, but this… yeah… I am done with Maas. LOL.

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  7. Wow. I mean… Wow. *can’t help but laugh*

    To be honest, this book wasn’t on my radar because the summary gave me the impression that it’s NOT something I’d enjoy. Your review pretty much confirmed this. So, thank you.

    I did try reading Throne of Glass recently, btw – and I gave up 130 pages in. As much as I enjoy YA fantasy (especially YA epic fantasy), that one was NOT the kind I like. So I don’t think Sarah J. Maas’s stories are for me.

    And since I capitalized “not” twice in this comment, I guess I really mean it. *lol*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Normally, this wouldn’t have been on my radar either, but my book club was reading it and I’d bought it on impulse for when I would give Maas a chance. I made a terrible mistake.

      I think I saw that you 2-starred Throne of Glass or that could’ve been someone else I know who tried one of her books, too. I’m in the same boat, though. I’m thinking her stories are for me at all after this book. I don’t even want to try to read another book by her at this point.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Tiara’s 2nd Quarter Update | The BiblioSanctum

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