The longer I have sat on this review since I have finished A Court of Wings and Ruin, the more problems I find with it. Trust me, I didn’t want it to be this way, yet here we are.
Let me just say that when I read ACOTAR two years ago, I was… unfulfilled. Yes, I liked it. But I genuinely did not understand the hype. I think Sarah J. Maas is a brilliant writer, and her stories of fae and powers and warring kingdoms are wholly addicting BUT, I still didn’t get the hype. Then ACOMAF came into our lives, and I was blown away. The character development and growth of Feyre and her story has resonated with me to my very soul, and I am not sure if that book will ever be knocked out of my top 5.
However, ACOMAF and ACOWAR are two completely different types of books that happen to reside in the same series. While Mist and Fury was a story of discovering and healing, Wings and Ruin is truly a book of war. Did I like it? Yes. But when you compare it to its predecessor, I think you are going to be mildly disappointed.
There were lots of aspects of this book that I absolutely loved, and the main one being the war scenes / intricate battles that SJM painted. Holy shit. Even with Feyre’s limited first person point of view (more on that in a few paragraphs) I was seriously so impressed with the how visual all of the battles were of this war. The scope was…enormous, and I felt like SJM put us on that hill with Feyre, or on the field with Cassian as she wrote. My heart was in my throat, my palms were sweaty, I felt physically nauseous reading these scenes. So, I guess you could say she did a damn good job with that.
The introduction of new characters was so much fun, and I am glad that SJM started to flesh out some of the older ones. For example, we learned SO MUCH about the Bone Carver and the Weaver, and encountered little plot twists with Lucien, Mor, and Jurian which made me have to put the book down and walk around my apartment. And, we are finally starting to scratch the surface of what/who Amren is, which is relieving, but not quite satisfying if you know what I mean. Also, getting to meet all of the new High Lords and their courts gave me actual goosebumps; I love them all and I can’t wait to learn more about them.
And a list of new characters that JUST GAVE ME LIFE: (because no review is a good review without a little list 😉)
Did I mention I am obsessed with Brayxis? Well, I am.
While I could go on and on about certain scenes that I loved or which characters I adored, at the end of the day my favorite aspect of ACOWAR is how many real and raw emotions it brought out in me. I laughed out loud in some parts, I gasped, I cried, I paced my apartment in a panic, and I sobbed. While of course there are things about the book I didn’t like, that doesn’t take away from this reading experience; it was simply magical. And for that feeling alone I will continue to read SJM’s books because there is emotional magic in her words. (Well, that and the fact that there is so much potential in this world, it’s astonishing.)
Now, unfortunately, it is time for the things that I didn’t really like. I don’t think it would be fair to just write out a bulleted style list, so I will try to flesh out these ideas as much as possible. There is no way to do this without spoilers, so proceed at your own risk!
I mentioned earlier that I really appreciated how well SJM wrote a war through only a single first person POV. And while I do feel like she did a fantastic job with that, I think ACOWAR would have benefited immensely from either multiple POVs, or a third person POV to really capture everything that was going on. Trust me, while I type this up, I know it’s ultimately a Catch 22, because while I am saying the story would have benefited with a third person POV, I know I would have complained about the inconsistency between the three books if that were the case.
This is a harder issue to explain, but I feel like there were quite a few “GOTCHA” or “SIKE” moments that rubbed me the wrong way. The first being that the book opened with a chapter from Rhysand’s point of view. I was expecting there to be a flip-flop back and forth between Feyre and Rhys, but that wasn’t the case at all. Instead, we had the opening chapter, and one single chapter at the end of the book from Rhys’ POV that served absolutely no purpose in furthering the plot.
There were a couple other fake out moments towards the end of the book that bothered me as well. The almost betrayal of Amren, the almost deaths of both Rhys and Amren, and the almost ending of Cassian, it was all… pointless. There was no reason for Amren to have ‘come back’ from wherever she went in the cauldron. Her leaving the story whether in death or some other mysterious way would have been way better for her character than what actually played out. I felt kind of duped because of COURSE I was happy that everyone lived, but again, I don’t think they should have.
Talking to others non-stop about this ending and the characters made me realize something that I didn’t immediately pick up on, and that was the lack of fun banter between Rhys and Feyre that I felt was significantly lacking in ACOWAR. I adore them individually as their own characters, but also I loved their relationship and closeness in ACOMAF. But there was a definitive spark missing in this book. I love that Rhys respects Feyre as her own person, and lets her make her own decisions, but he shouldn’t just take a back seat to everything she wants or decides. They are supposed to be equals. I hate to say this, but in her quest to make Rhys the ultimate book boyfriend, SJM made him so perfect he ceased to be interesting. Another Catch 22 dontcha think?
Lastly, the ending was too clean and too happy for a book that has the word “Ruin” in the title. This book was about war, the preparation of that war, and the death / havoc that war brought upon Prythian. Yet every single person that was important to this story was able to walk away alive? I don’t know. I didn’t want any of my favorite characters to die, but I would have accepted if they did you know?
So in summary, I finished this book with a gigantic head ache and completely drained of all emotions. I rushed to Goodreads to mark it as finished and just knee jerk reaction gave it 5 stars because that was the only rating I had really EXPECTED to give it. But after days of discussing the book with my sister and with my BFF Kori from @_livelaughread, I realized that I was being totally unfair to myself. I couldn’t force myself to love this the way I loved ACOMAF just based on expectations. And there were too many things that just nagged and nagged and drained my emotions even more.
I hate doing this, I hate it; but, ACOWAR was a solid 3.5 star read.