These ‘about me’ sections, or even sections that inform you about blogs, have never been my forte. Much to my chagrin, I was never taught the unwritten rules of what you are supposed to say. The links at the side of the blog – Twitter and Goodreads, for example – are liable to tell you more than I could ever say in words.

Mostly, this will be a book blog. I read a lot, and I love to share my views on my most recent reads. I try to read a little bit of everything, but if you look closely you’ll notice I will occasionally become obsessed with one specific genre for a short period of time. Old books, new books, yet to be released books – I read them all. If you’re an author looking for advance readers or just wish for more reviews of a book you’ve already released, please feel free to contact me. There is a contact form at the side of my blog – if you scroll down below the Twitter and Goodreads sidebar you will find it – so drop me a message and I’ll be sure to get back to you in double time. After all, finding new authors is what makes the book world go around.

Thanks for taking your time to read this. With a little bit of luck, you will find my blog much more interesting than this mundane introductory section.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Review: Crown of Midnight

Crown of Midnight Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would just like to apologise in advance. I feel as though all the books in the Throne of Glass series are going to earn rather lengthy reviews. This is because my emotions are somewhat mixed. Thus far the books have been good, yet I am not receiving all I had been promised. I came in with such high expectations, and even with the foresight to know I’d be disappointed I’m still left wanting something more.

Anyway, enough of that, onto the actual review of the second book in the series.

Crown of Midnight took me much longer to finish than it should have, although I will admit to such a thing being a personal choice. I ordered Heir of Fire prior to starting this one – in fact, I ordered it when I was part way through the first book – and yet it took forever to arrive. I could feel the ending of this one coming, I knew a cliff-hanger of an ending looming in the distance, and due to this I wanted to be able to pick up the third book straight away. Thus, I slowed down my reading. I expected the book to arrive at the start of the week, I expected it to arrive days ago, and yet my reading of the book got slower and slower as Heir of Fire continued to evade me. Finally, it arrived. As soon as Heir of Fire arrived, I allowed myself to jump right back into the story. Truthfully, I’m both glad and annoyed that I did this. Whilst the ending has left me wanting to read the next one, it wasn’t to the degree I had anticipated. Part of me wishes I hadn’t slowed down my reading, part of me wishes that I had read it at my usual pace and picked up something else as I awaited the arrival of Heir of Fire. Oh well, it is done now. What comes next is important – and what comes next is that I will continue on with the series without a detour into other books.

Reading books at a slower pace than usual can often leave me enjoying a book less than I normally would. With this one, I don’t believe such to be the case. I feel as though my enjoyment would have been the same no matter what speed I read it at, no matter how many times I put the book aside. This is because I feel the same way I did with the first book: conflicted. As I’ve already stated, I’m enjoying the books. However, I’m not enjoying them as much as I had hoped to. I’m noticing many things that are annoying me, little bits and pieces that the big fans seem blind to. This is in no way a bad thing – I know I act in the same way when I’m truly enjoying a series – I just wish I belonged to that group.

I’ll start by going through this book in relation to the first, how it improved upon certain aspects. Then I’ll explain what bugged me.

My biggest issue with the first book was the whole assassin aspect. I promise to hold back on my rant this time. But, just so you get a general idea of what I’m talking about, I’ll give you one quick sentence: I did not consider our main character to be the assassin everyone promised me. I feel as though with this one that aspect of the story wasn’t improved on as much as it could have been, but there was some improvement. We got to see her in act, which was a big plus. She still wasn’t the assassin I had hoped for, but she was more of an assassin than she was in the first book. My fingers are crossed that this aspect continues to develop in the future books.

As with the first book, I found this one to be quite slow in places. There was more action as a whole, but there were still parts of the story where things seemed to lag somewhat. I know one hundred percent action happens very rarely in such stories, but these lacklustre scenes seemed more bountiful than should be in a tale with so much going on.

I feel as though part of this is because of the romance. As with the first book, I really didn’t care much for it. There was a more clear development this time, and yet I still didn’t care. Even when things unravelled into drama central, I found myself uninspired. I feel as though this will be one of those series where I won’t care at all about the romance aspect. I’d rather it was all cut out and we focused upon the assassin side of our main character. Despite this, however, we did get to understand the characters a lot more. There is quite a bit of change for them throughout this novel, and it was great to see. I just wish I could buy into the romance rather than sighing (and not the swooning kind of sigh, rather the bored kind of sigh) every time there was talk of the emotions of the heart.

In all seriousness, though, I really did enjoy the development of characters throughout this one. So many doors have been opened, so many possibilities opened up for the future books. There is a clear direction of where things are heading now, a clear story for each of the characters to follow. You know everyone has some kind of end in sight, some kind of purpose, even if you’re unaware of the specifics at this moment in time. You’re left with more questions about characters, you’re left wanting more from them, and this really works to make the book enjoyable. You’re pulled into their stories, you’re pulled into what is happening, and you cannot help but hope for the best as things play out.

Despite this, there were some new issues to be had.

Whilst the overall story was gripping, it was predictable in so many ways. Within the first couple of chapters, through the use of one simple sentence, it was obvious what trope was going to be used. The line was dropped so casually and yet seemed so out of place with what we already knew that it was clear how much meaning was behind the words. There was so much work following this to build up suspense and surprised, to twist things, that there was no shock at all when the truth came out. In fact, I became rather impatient for the information to be given. I even reached the point where I feared the information wouldn’t be given until the next book – and that really wouldn’t have sat well with me. Luckily, it was given; but the whole way in which it came about could have been done so much better. The entire book worked towards one point – one point that was made clear from one small line at the very start of the book. It really was a disappointment when it came out. Yes, it offers up more to the series. Yes, it is important information. However, it was far too obvious. It was far too clear from the outset, and it has been done so many times before.

Without saying what this outcome is, it is difficult for me to say more. Just know the ‘big reveal’ at the end of the book isn’t really much of a reveal, and I fear it is to set the tone of the rest of the series. I fear it is about to overshadow many of the aspects I was interested in. In all honesty, you can see such a thing happening within this story. For example, with the development of the magical system. I wished to see more magic in this book, and I got my wish. In fact, there were quite a few nice developments with that aspect of the story. However, in relation to certain points it was glossed over far too quickly. One character seems to get all the focus, when I want to learn more about the magic within others. New aspects were introduced and weren’t given all the attention they could have been, I hoped they would have been, because the attention was on building up a cloud of mystery around the reveal that was to come. I really do hope in the future books that the magic does continue, that the other characters get more attention. There really is so much brought to light in this book that everything needs to be given equal attention – if not equal, at least better attention instead of everything revolving around that one aspect. It makes it difficult for me to care about the centric story when the side aspects I care about seem to be brushed over far too quickly.

Overall, I’m not as excited about continuing the series as I was when I finished the first book. I’m still interested to see where things go, and I will be carrying on. However, I’m finding myself fearful that this series isn’t going to take me to the new and amazing heights everyone promised me. It will be fun, but I doubt it will ever enter my list of favourite fantasy series.

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