All I can really say is: thank you Instagram book fanatics for your unceasing photo uploads of this series. Without you, I wouldn’t have been pressured into giving it a second chance and I would never have gotten to enjoy this absolute gem of a novel. I’ve now read six Sarah J. Maas books and for the first time I can actually see what all the hype is about. ACOTAR was average and forgettable, a fine way to spend an afternoon but not much more. And then, in a shock turn of events, I find that a sequel, A SEQUEL, has managed to surpass its predecessor in basically every single way possible. So yes, I’m extremely late in coming to the party but here are my thoughts on ACOMAF.
In ACOTAR Feyre was a reasonably solid character. She did some really stupid things but she had a good heart and an underlying spark that shone through in rare moments. However, I really did want her bravery and strength of character to come out on a more regular basis. For the first half of ACOMAF Feyre’s a little damaged. Okay, very damaged. It’s a believable state of mind after what’s she’s been through. I liked that her past actions weren’t just brushed over (as I often find in YA books) and it was refreshing to see her slowly pull herself out of the hole over the course of the book. She succeeds at just the right time to avoid the reader getting frustrated, and it’s here that she really becomes the character I wanted her to be. At last we can see the girl who managed to trap and kill a giant worm, who was spunky enough to publicly give Rhysand the finger while fighting for her life, and who threw a bone shard at Amarantha without a flinch. Feyre fights to change herself into someone who can stand their ground without fear. She realises that she’s strong and powerful, and deserves to be happy.
You go, girlfriend!
Now this is the male lead we deserved. Rhysand is such an interesting and complex character. Every scene he’s in, he shines. Just when you start to think you understand him, Sarah peels back another layer. He’s witty, smart, and a perfect match for Feyre. In my ACOTAR commentary I said Sarah would have to do a lot of character development for me to get on board this ship. She delivered and more. The number of conversations Feyre and Rhys share throughout the book is almost impossible to count but I never tired of them. Whether they’re verbal sparring, sending each other suggestive, disappearing notes, or sharing their most intimate thoughts, memories and experiences, the chemistry comes off the page in the most wonderful way.
After many years of reading YA fiction, I am over insta-love. So over it. It’s lazy. Points to Sarah for avoiding it. Rhys and Feyre’s relationship develops over a period of about four months and even though that’s still short, the build is so gradual and in depth, it feels extremely natural. By the time they come together, they know each other inside and out – their pasts, personalities, powers, secrets, flaws, everything. These are two people who really do make the other a better person.
I’ve bought my ticket, so let’s hoist the anchor and set sail already. Go ship, go!
While our two leads are the main reason behind the book’s success, it’s the side characters that really kick it out of the park. In ACOTAR we only really had Lucien and Alis, both of whom I liked but had nothing on the great cast of characters we find in the Night lands – Cassian, Azriel, Amren, and Morrigan. Each has their own defined and separate personalities which work in harmony with one another. The inner circle plays off each other in wonderful ways which really accentuate the idea of family and provides a few laughs along the way. I’m unable to pick a favourite because I love them all so much, even Amren with her silver eyes and creepy diet.
Another fantastic improvement on book one is our exposure to the world of Prythian. ACOMAF introduces us to the wonders of Rhys’s kingdom – the cities, people, and landscapes. It was all extremely well developed and described with loving detail. I can actually understand how people live in Prythian now beyond the walls of an isolated manor house. We also get to see a little bit of the Summer Court and it’s great to see the contrast between the different regions. I hope we get to see more of the world in later books.
While some may claim otherwise, most of the book is devoted to Feyre and Rhys’s character development and their budding romance. I have no complaints about this. The broader plot, however, is focused on preventing the outbreak of a new faerie-human war. It was entertaining, took the characters to some interesting places, and allowed for some interaction with Feyre’s family. My only real complaint is that the last few chapters, or climax, of the story felt slightly on the rushed side and the two main antagonists almost verged into moustache twirling villain territory – you know the ones. The book ended well though and Sarah’s left herself a lot of wiggle room plot wise for book three.
Last but not least, Tamlin. A lot of people have been crying over the destruction of Tamlin’s character and yep, that’s pretty much what happens. BUT it’s achieved only by drawing out and bringing attention to pre-existing problems with Tamlin’s character, for example, his possessiveness. I mean, I liked Tamlin in ACOTAR but to be perfectly blunt, he was about as interesting as a wooden board. While his and Feyre’s romance was kind of on the sweet side, I wasn’t about to hit up Tumblr yelling, “I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP” any time soon. So, yes, Sarah ruined him but isn’t he much more interesting this way?
Well done, Miss Maas. I can’t wait to get stuck into A Court of Wings and Ruin. However, I might try and take it slower than two days this time.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Siphon stones
Also, I can’t stop looking at how gorgeous some of the ACOTAR fan art is. I’m sure a lot of you have already seen many of these, particularly those by the amazing Charlie Bowater (who helped create the ACOTAR colouring book!) but here they are anyway.