I’m an absolute sucker for everything Sarah J. Maas, I think people who’ve followed me long enough know this, and this book was no different. My aim is to finish ACOMAF soon as well because I feel like I need to read it before I meet her, YES I’M MEETING HER I AM FREAKING OUT A LIL BIT. Ok so I didn’t love ACOTAR as much as I adore ToG but it was still such a great read for me personally.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you probably know about ACOTAR: it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Feyre and her family are poor so she learns to hunt. One day Feyre kills a wolf, except that wolf isn’t just a regular wolf, it’s a High Fae. To pay for her crimes against the Faeries Feyre must cross to the faerie realms and spend the rest of her days there living with another High Fae: Tamlin.
Beauty and the Beast is a difficult story to work around as it does have some fairly abusive moments and this is no different. Maas clearly tried to work with the original story as much as she could whilst adding in her own twist. There was always going to be grey areas because of the original story line and I think she did a good job of working around that whilst also keeping the general ideas in tact. Of course it’s not perfect, there is still some abusive elements, but as you come to learn more of the characters their reasoning for their behaviour begins to make more sense.
My issue with ACOTAR came mainly down to the pacing. There were times where time seemed to move so fast and other times where it was moving at a snails pace and because of this it makes the main romantic pairing seem kind of insta-love in a way, which it isn’t because months pass in the space of about 10 chapters. I couldn’t get a very good grasp of the time very well at all. And in the final few chapters when things are really beginning to kick off etc. and there’s the big climax it felt ridiculously fast and I had to read some things over a couple of times just to figure out what was actually happening. I appreciate that obviously when things aren’t really happening bar Feyre painting and living her life in Prythian so it would be pretty boring to read about but I don’t know it was just really inconsistent.
I think another reason I wasn’t as into this as Throne of Glass is because it was so much about romance. It felt like Feyre was constantly getting herself in trouble and having to be saved. I don’t expect every female character to be a crazy assassin like Celaena Sardothien because hey guess what, women are in fact multi-faceted individuals and everyone has their own strengths, but it just kind of felt like romance was bout 65% of this opposed to ToG which feels about 50/50 with romance and action, which I think is much more suited to my tastes for fantasy reads.
I found the world building really interesting in this book in that I feel like I didn’t really get the best feel for the Faerie worlds, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Feyre has spent her whole life in the mortal realm so she knows nothing of the faerie courts and I felt like Maas did a good job of making the reader feel like Feyre does learning of the new world she’s living in. It was a different technique to use to what is often used in high fantasies and for the most part I had no problem with it but I found I didn’t have the greatest idea of the layout of things, but that might be just me and my reading about 5 million books like a robot at the same time as working a full time job.
I don’t really know how I feel about any of the characters bar Lucien, whom I adore. Feyre was a bit of an idiot, Tamlin didn’t really convince me and Rhysand did some very sketchy things and then tried to make it seem like he wasn’t all that bad. I just feel like I don’t really know who anyone is right now and I didn’t get the best feel for them, but it is only the first book in a series so I’m intrigued to see what I feel after the next book.
There are some explicit (for YA) scenes in this that made me cringe a bit. Not because they’re sexual, I’ve read a sex dice fanfiction this is nothing on that, but because of the language used. Obviously Maas can’t say “he shoved his dick in me” this is YA we’re reading here but thing like “sheathed himself in me” and “feasted on me” was honestly just yucky and made my skin crawl. Thankfully it didn’t happen often otherwise I may have had to put it down for a few hours.
I think one of my favourite things about reading Maas’ books is that in every one I’ve read she starts the novel with a clear conflict but then as you get deeper and deeper in you find out there’s more to what’s going on, and when the book finishes the original conflict is over but you know that there’s more to come and it’s going to be even worse than what just happened. There’s basically always a kind of good ending but there’s the ever present fear of doom on the horizon. It’s something she just does so well.
Obviously because it’s a retelling I had a vague idea of where the plot was going and what was going to happen in the end, I know Beauty and the Beast back to front, it’s my third favourite Disney movie, however there was some twists on the story that I found really exciting and brought new life to it. Things happened in a way that I didn’t expect and it made something that could’ve been a coast of an ending into a thrill.