Firstly, this book is bonkers. Secondly, Sarah J. Maas is not the author for me, a 32 year old person. The prose is out of control overwritten to impress and be MEANINGFUL. The characters pair up like lobsters and it is overwhelmingly heterosexual, which just makes me roll my eyes. Really, all these characters you just so happened to create just happen to find their soulmate or whatever and get together by the end? Really? This is the same thing that annoyed me out of reading Marissa Meyer by the end of Winter. It was just so CUTESY. Apparently I can’t do cutesy at all anymore. Some of these effing people should still be single! Single people exist! There are dozens of us!
But also I still enjoyed reading this, because it was batshit, and there was a sex scene that literally set an island on fire.
Speaking of the sex in this book–which I am all for if it would have been a little less cringey, TBH–this is the most explicit YA book I’ve ever read, to the point where I’m thinking this is no longer YA. Which makes sense! The whole time while reading it, I just kept thinking that SJM obviously loves epic fantasy, but in my opinion doesn’t have the writing chops to tell the kind of story it seems she wants to tell. I feel like she wants this to be sweeping and epic and a Story For All Times or whatever, but I could see her trying the whole time. It felt serious, and the more she strayed away from a more fun and fluffy tone, the less I liked her writing.
But also, more contradictions!
Some of her plot twists I did not see coming, and she did things that kept me reading and interested, even as the style she was writing in made me roll my eyes. It just feels messy.
But I’d rather this hot messy book that she produced than the tepid blandness of the first two books, which felt like cookie cutter YA fantasy. More than anything, it feels like she bit off more than she could chew, changed her mind about what kind of story she was writing mid-series, and then just went for it anyway. This definitely doesn’t feel like the same series as book one, for sure.
I will be reading the next two books in the series, and will also check out her other series, which I’ve heard is better and more assured, and also has better characters. It’s interesting to read about Aelin even if you dislike her, but she is not the best character here, and when the best characters in your series are secondary ones, you have a problem.
In summation, this review is a mess, much like this book.