Genres: new adult; fantasy; romance
Why I read it: I like re-tellings, Beauty & the Beast is a favorite of mine, and everyone raved about this series (and Maas in general) but I hadn’t read any of her books yet.
Who I’d recommend it to: Probably no one I like. (I’m sorry, ACOTAR/SJM fans. I really am.)
My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
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What it’s about:
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.
Review (hopefully spoiler-free):
I think I added this to my TBR back when it was first announced. I didn’t know much about Sarah J. Maas’s books at the time, except that everyone seemed to love them. I never liked the cover, though. I know, I know I’m in the minority with that, but I think it’s ugly, sorry. But I can forgive a bad cover if the book is good. I think the cover goes with this book.
I want to preface this by saying I didn’t hate the book! It did have good moments, but not nearly enough of them. Will I read the next book? Maybe. I’m still deciding, but I did go ahead and check it out from the library, just in case.
Feyre is possibly the most annoying protagonist I’ve encountered. Maybe there have been others I’ve disliked more, but I’m having a difficult time remembering them. She’s whiny, self-abasing, and just plain stupid at times. She cared for her sisters and father and herself for years, she can hunt and apparently track pretty darn well, she’s (supposed to be?) a survivor, but she just kept making stupid decisions and putting herself in danger. I feel like she was supposed to be this strong, at least semi-intelligent, resilient, character, and she was the epitome of shallow, boring, damsel in distress characters instead. Her feelings about the fae kept shifting a lot, which I guess could be understandable, but it was so dramatic each time, moving from one extreme to another. I feel like her character development left a lot to be desired, and I just don’t care much about her. She could die and be replaced by another character in the next book, and I wouldn’t mind.
I have no clue how to feel about Tamlin, because I don’t think we got enough of him for me to really form an opinion. I’m pretty much indifferent. He was pretty much the cookie cutter, “mostly nice guy but sometimes cringe-worthy possessive” you find in some shifter PNR/UF stories, only he’s fae. We know he’s probably gorgeous, and he’s powerful, but that’s about it.
Lucien and Rhysand saved my character rating for this book, and I liked them enough to actually consider shelving this as 2.5/5 stars, instead of 1.5 or 2. Lucien, ugh. I wish he’d had more time in this book, because he was funny. I think he could be a fleshed out, complex character. Rhysand gave me Darkling feels (but I don’t like him nearly as much as I love my book husband, the Darkling), kind of. I hated him when he first showed up, but by the end of the book I was interested in him. If I read ACOMAF it will probably be just so I can find out more about these two.
Lucien and Rhysand had the most development, I think, of any of the side characters. The rest were really bland. Mostly, I didn’t care at all about any of them, but I would like to know more about Alis, and Feyre’s sister Nesta.
I wasn’t really on board with the relationship between Feyre and Tamlin. I don’t ship it, mostly because I found it boring. There’s some problematic stuff, too, but not as much as I was expecting. But the sex, oh, ugh. A friend of mine described it as being “cringe-worthy,” and I totally agree. Reading those was like reading a ton of romance novel sex scene cliches all thrown together on one page. I actually read a scene with my hand over my face, reading through my fingers, and had to keep looking away. On a scale of 1-10 for how hot they were, I’d give it a 2. (I might have said that I would find a pie eating contest hotter than the sex in this book…)
The world building was pretty dull and almost non-existent, which annoyed me. I was hoping for more. There are also a lot of things that were not explained at all in this book, that probably should have been. I feel like as the first novel in a series, it should have had more details about Prythian, the fae who live there, and the human world that knows about the fae. We got some brief descriptions of how things are divided up, but not much about the fae and what they can do, the different types of fae, etc. Most of what was learned came from someone telling Feyre things, and it got kind of boring for me.
At the beginning of this book, I had reasonably high hopes. But the writing style bugged me. It was almost like there was an attempt to make it poetic or flowery, or…sound antiquated, maybe. It missed the mark with that. Then there was the plot itself, which was a rollercoaster. For a while, it seemed like things were moving along well, then it lagged and got boring. Then things picked up for a bit, then dropped back to boring. I really think 50 pages (probably more) could have been shaved off this book without losing anything important. More time was spent on descriptions I really didn’t care much about (like clothing, decorations, etc., that were sometimes excessively described), and too little spent on more important things. Many things were repeated…and repeated…and repeated….and… You get the point. It was frustrating and made it really hard for me to remain immersed in the story. The Beauty & the Beast inspiration is clear, but I don’t think it was executed as well as it could have been. That probably disappointed me more than anything else.
Finally, the last 30 pages or so happened and things were interesting. Those last few pages, plus Rhysand and Lucien, are the only reasons this wasn’t a 1-1.5 star book for me. I’m curious enough about the way things were left to think about reading the next book. I’ve also heard it’s better than this one, so I’m cautiously optimistic.
I know this is a super popular series, and if you want to read it, please don’t let my opinion stop you. I’m so glad so many people have enjoyed it, and I really wish I was one of them.