Why ACOTAR failed to impress me

*This is not a review so please do not expect balanced out details of the pros and cons of reading this book. It is a rant that was much needed.*
There are many books that are hyped too much in the blogging and bookstagram world and we (like the pathetic lover of books that we are) go on to buy those books and try to fall in love with them as much as the people around us do. I tried to read this book with an unprejudiced mind and tried to like and understand each and every character (despite the universal hate for Tamlin and the puppy-eyed love for Rhysand) and more focus on the word tried but eventually, I failed. Terribly at that. But hey, I am not blaming myself for disliking a book that failed to pick up my interest. Neither am I blaming those who loved this book. Instead I can tell you all the things in Sarah J. Maas’ book that didn’t work out for me.

Washed up Formula based Fantasy

I hate books, movie, TV or web series that sell on formula based theories and plots. And currently most YA or New Adult books seem to be doing just that. Introduce a female protagonist with the most troublesome issues in her life and then bring in a totally dystopian setting. Also there needs to be a knight in shining armor to rescue her from her plights. As the story progresses with that age old conflict between good and evil, pop in a third male protagonist. A vindictive climax and more inconvenience for the main character, and now you have the first book in a long-running series. In spite of understanding that the book was another hopeless victim of the best-seller formula I continued indulging into the pages because it did engage me initially. What with the Hunger Games feel of deprived and poverty-stricken family that only Feyre can save!

Whimsical Characters

I love fascinatingly crafted characters and judge most books by how much the characters have succeeded in impressing me. And honestly, Maas has failed miserably in maintaining consistency. I hate my feelings being manipulated and the frequency of changes the characters go through in these books caters to that manipulation. Feyre started as a talented, self-taught huntress who kills to get food on the plates of her family members. Her undying love for her selfish father and sisters and her resolve to keep them safe makes me love her a lot. (definitely Katniss from Hunger Games). The steel in her character shows through the way she keeps trying to break free from the court of Tamlin. Yet how easily she falls in love with Tamlin and (although we get no glimpse into how that love grows so deep) their bond becomes so strong that she wants to face Amarantha and her own death to save him. Feyre runs around like a fool, getting into unnecessary dangers for no apparent reason and Tamlin has to save her every time. There is a lot of unnecessary sex too. The shift from the first book to the second (ACOMAF) is so whimsical that I did not have any interest left to read it any further. Suddenly, Tamlin is cast off as the most evil oppressive man and Feyre, the damsel in distress. Rhysand has been transformed into the most perfect piece of human (oops Fae) on earth and he is made to constrast Tamlin completely. His disgusting activities in the previous book is magically forgotten by Feyre. The fact that none of the characters succeeded in impressing me is due to their lack of genuineness. The characters felt like puppets that SJM toyed around with no purpose in mind. and I couldn’t hate or love any of them as they somehow didn’t matter. The entire thing was so made up and not at all believable. Special mention to the characters that the author could have focused on but miserable failed to do so- Nesta, Elaine, Lucien, Ianthe, Mor, they were present but completely blurred out and forgotten to intensify.

Lack of proper construction

I am a huge lover of fantasy and it hurts me to say this but I did not believe in the world of Prythian. I did initially with the courts and their description but somewhere in the middle I just lost it. It was nothing like the world that Tolkien or Rowling crafted, that in spite of being completely fictional, felt so damn real. I have stopped reading ACOMAF in the middle because I can somehow predict it and it is getting too boring.

Rhysand’s perverse behavior towards Feyre

I cannot admire a character no matter how depressive his past is, no matter how wonderful he behaves in the future, no matter what amends he intends to make, if he behaves the way Rhysand did. Making a bargain where Feyre didn’t have much of a choice but to spend one week of every month unwillingly with Rhysand, drugging her with faeries’ wine, dressing her into the least amount of clothes which she is clearly uncomfortable in and doing all the perverse things to her in front of her beloved to make him mad- how can I hero-worship this man. You cannot justify such actions by saying “but he did all that to save her from Amarantha’s wrath and the dangerous tasks”. Forcing Feyre to drink the wine was equivalent to the date-rape drugs that are given to young girls without their knowledge. Making her face horrors day after day just in the name of saving her precious life is not acceptable. I would have still supported it had Rhysand not been subjected to immense affection and idolization in the later bits of ACOMAF.

Objectification of the female protagonist

Feyre was treated as a property that needed tending, mollycoddling and passing on from one to another and worse, all this done in the name of love. Feyre’s fierceness is gone and she is protected like a fragile piece of jewelry. She is reduced to nothing but a lifeless doll who does both Tamlin and Rhysand’s biddings. She lacks the verve that was expected of her and one that we had witnessed in the beginning of ACOTAR. Even during the time she is prisoned under the mountain, there is hardly any zeal in her. As if the character was toned down intentionally. Also is there really a need to introduce two male characters to show how desirable a woman is? Personally, I felt the story would have been a much better one if she hadn’t needed the presence of two High Faes to save her ass from the horrific situations she lands up in due to her witless ways.

I think I need a break from the entire YA/New Adult fantasy genre after reading ACOTAR.

*If you love this book, please understand that I have nothing against you and have immense respect for your choice. I hope you respect mine.*

11 thoughts on “Why ACOTAR failed to impress me

  1. thefoodandbooklife says:

    Well written and I get most of your points. That is exactly why I donโ€™t usually read YA but I loved this series for some reason. Maybe since I was on a holiday when I read it or because I hadnโ€™t read YA in a long time (check my blog for more detailed hows and whys of it). Iโ€™ve often noticed that our state of mind also plays a role in us liking something.
    It wasnโ€™t clear if you had read ACOWAR because some of the flaws that you pointed out in Feyreโ€™s character were addressed there such as taking an initiative and saving herself without waiting for her Knight.


    • Aritri says:

      I haven’t read ACOWAR and to be honest, I don’t have the patience to. I started reading SJM’s Throne of Glass series and I have this feeling that she writes good standalone books but her series are generally whimsical and very temperamental. Something that I don’t find suitable at all.


  2. Shilpa says:

    Just to give you some peace.. SJM does manage to give some serious character growth to Nesta, Elaine, Lucien, Ianthe and Mor in the third book.. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜›


    • Aritri says:

      Ahh! Thank god she does. I am happy for the patient readers who decided to stick around till the third book to witness the character development. ๐Ÿ˜‚


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