WARNING: Spoilers abound for ACOTAR, ACOMAF, and ACOWAR!
Not what I expected, and not exactly in a good way.
Don’t get me wrong- this wasn’t horrible, hence the three stars. I didn’t hate it, but I completely expected for this book to absolutely blow me away. (It didn’t.)
ACOWAR was one of my most anticipated books for this year, so I can’t deny that I’m a little disappointed.
Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.
Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.
As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.
In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.
1. More Unrealistic Perfection
Am I the only one who tires of all the perfection in this book? Or, at least, all the “good” High Fae are legendary warriors, have some magical gimmick that makes them special, and have hearts of pure glittering gold. I noticed that the characters from this series share the same base characteristics as those in ToG- I was surprised that Aelin didn’t suddenly pop out of the middle of nowhere waving her sword. Almost everything goes well for our admirable band of heroes- every battle they won, every escape attempt was successful, every potentially life-threatening injury was healed, though admittedly, they did endure their fair share of harrowing experiences and tragedy. I know her other books are like this, too, but for some reason, it didn’t really bother me as much until ACOWAR.
Romance Excessive Crooning and Rhysand’s Violet Eyes
I liked the first two books, probably because I like reading about the slow burn of a relationship. Two completely different people learning how to joke with each other, trust each other- even love each other. However, in this book, it is CRYSTAL CLEAR that Rhysand and Feyre are 1000000000% in love and CONSTANTLY REFERRING TO THEMSELVES AS “MATES”. Like, YEAH, RHYSAND, WE GET IT. She’s your MATE. The HIGH LADY. And yes, Feyre, we know that Rhysand is your favorite “male”. You don’t have to constantly nip at each other all the time. SHUDDER.
me basically throughout the entire book:
rhysand: she’s the high lady of the night court
me: yeah feyre! you go!
rhysand: she’s my mate, the high lady
me: mhm we know
rhysand: she’s my mate, my mate, my
me: *hurls shoe* shut UP
There’s also only so many times you can read about Rhysand crooning. I’ve noticed that Sarah J. Maas tends to repeat certain words throughout all of her books. Every time I saw the words “purr” or “smirk” or “violet eyes” I sank lower into my seat (by the time I finished the book I was practically on the floor). I also found myself skimming over most of her steamy scenes- so, like, 40% of the book. And as many other reviewers have pointed out, she uses so much animal imagery when describing them. Personally, not really my thing. Animal imagery seems to be a consistent theme in all of Sarah J. Maas’s books, but this book definitely had much more of it. I mean, I’m surprised that Rhys and Feyre didn’t just transform into mating tigers.
However, I would also like to note that the book also included other slow burn relationships and solid friendships that I enjoyed far more than Rhysand and Feyre’s little trysts.
3. Villains & The Heroes
Another significant problem I had: the King of Hybern. He’s supposed to be the ultimate enemy; in fact, the entire series builds up to meeting him in all his cruel glory. But his introduction was so… how do I say it?… anticlimactic. In my opinion, the King of Hybern was a one-dimensional villain with no purpose other than to serve as the “bad guy” that Feyre & Crew fight against. Put simply, Old Mr. Hybern was so evil it was boring. I know, I know, he’s supposed to be bad and all that, but I wished the author added more to his character. At least our dear Amarantha had a backstory- which still doesn’t excuse her actions- but I know nothing about Hybern other than the fact that he wants to enslave humans and has magicky powers. Or maybe I missed something? Jurian, however, was much more fleshed-out and surprisingly complex, and don’t judge me for this, but he ended up becoming one of my favorite new characters!
The Suriel, the Bone Carver, and the Weaver, were also all very interesting, morally ambiguous characters that deserved so much more. On the other hand, Feyre & Crew stagger under the weight of a heck ton of plot armor– mountains of it, in fact. Seriously, both Feyre and Rhysand die and come back to life, albeit through magic, and all of a sudden these powerful, vicious entities agree to fight for them in the war.
4. The Plot
Feyre’s little undercover stunts in the Spring Court were not as devious and mindblowing as I’d hoped. She doesn’t spend much time in there, in fact; much of the book is more devoted to her adventures with her sisters and Night Court buddies.
Alas, I predicted that ending from a mile away. The pacing inched toward awkwardness in many portions of the book- especially during the *ahem* amorous sessions *coughs* and it was just incredibly cheesy. I know that Feyre & Crew deserved happiness after everything they’ve experienced- maybe I’ve just grown so accustomed to heart-wrenching epilogues (I’m looking at you, Marie Lu) that an overly gushy one doesn’t seem as realistic anymore. What does that say about me?
Also, quite a few people have already pointed this out, but the “diverse” aspects of the book seemed a little forced. Regardless, it is not my intention to denounce the author; I admire Sarah J. Maas so much for her ability to weave different worlds together and keep on doing her thing despite all the backlash she receives. I know that I’ve mostly just criticized the book so far, but as I stated in the beginning, there were quite a few other parts that I enjoyed, which, again, is why I gave it three stars.
5. What I Enjoyed
First of all, that gradual sisterly love made my heart melt. I loved that Sarah J. Maas thankfully emphasized the strength and power of not only romantic “mating” bonds, but sibling relationships. Though I never really took to Nesta, I eventually began to admire how the author portrayed her stubbornness and vicious spirit. Sarah J. Maas developed her character excellently- Nesta eventually grew up and learned to let others in (though, understandably, she was quite traumatized after that whole Cauldron ordeal). Elain is probably hands-down one of my favorite characters in that series. Her gentle nature proves that you don’t have to be stubborn, mean, and vicious to be strong. She’s too pure for Prythian. Az, as usual, was my little shadow baby and I will continue to cry for him forever. Don’t kill me for this, but I was starting to slightly ship Az and Elain… I know! Moving on!
I still disapprove of Tamlin and his overly macho act, but Sarah J. Maas eventually redeems him, in a way, making him not appear as buffoonish as he initially seemed. It would be unrealistic to paint him as a COMPLETE tool, especially since she spent the entire ACOTAR describing how he and Feyre were “in love”. Also, another new character: Viviane! I’m surprised that I enjoyed reading about her so much, and her friendship with Mor starkly contrasted with the tensions apparent between the High Lords. I can totally see Viviane and Mor gossiping over tea about everything: the latest trends, how many monsters they’ve killed, how idiotic their High Lords are.
Sarah J. Maas introduces many more new characters without really developing them, which confused and irritated me before I realized that she was probably just leaving her options open for the spin-off series she has planned.
6. In Conclusion
All problems aside, I applaud Sarah J. Maas for another hugely popular book, although it might not have exactly met my expectations. Admittedly, my expectations were pretty high. (I bought this nearly two weeks after the release date, and the saleslady informed me I had taken the last copy and that it was their most popular novel!)
ACOWAR was mildly disappointing, but I still wouldn’t have missed this series for the world. I’m relieved that Feyre and Rhysand’s arc is finally over, but I’m looking forward to those spin-off novels and still curious as to where Sarah J. Maas will take us next.