Friday, May 16, 2014

Review: Crown of Midnight - Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on August 27, 2013
Published by Bloomsbury
Pages: 420
Read From: 5.5.14 - 5.10.14

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil. 
Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiance - not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart. 
Then, one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie. . . .and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Um, no. It looks . . . ridiculous. Anime. Or something like. The girl is just obnoxious, okay? She looks nothing like how Celaena is described.

Characters: I still don't like Celaena. She has potential as a good character. I like the concept of an assassin who also has a weak spot for sweets and books and shiny objects. When done well, such contrasts can work. However, Celaena isn't one of those. I get so tired of her flirting, her whining, her emotional breakdowns, her sauciness, her purring, and her flirting (because this bugged me so much it needs to be listed twice). How hard is it to write a female assassin - a protagonist, really - who just does her job; who doesn't flirt, who doesn't have this obnoxious Attitude? How hard is that?! It really kills me, because there were moments when I actually did like Celaena. When she was totally devoid of emotion, and just went out there and did her job, I liked her then. An emotionless Celaena was a good Celaena. I was able to appreciate Nehemia more in this installment. She's a strong girl, regal and poised; but she is friends with Celaena, and I consider that a mark against her character. Still, she would have been a better protagonist. Dorian and Chaol I will talk about down in the romance section, and just that say that everyone else irritated me in some capacity. The only truly, 100% redeemable character in Crown of Midnight was a bronze skull-shaped doorknocker named Mort. I'm not joking. At first I didn't get Mort's purpose, and I still don't - except that he was there to relieve the suffering of poor reviewers like myself.

The Romance: This is the entire crux of the series. If the romance was gone, I would venture to say that this would be a good series, if not an epic one. The love triangle is somewhat on its way out in Crown of Midnight, though I am quite convinced that it won't last. I started to like Dorian in this one, because he was making the mature decision - [Spoiler]he was letting Celaena go[End spoiler]. I don't think it'll last. I did not like Chaol, as he turned into a jealous, controlling, violent alpha male, and unlike the majority of teens and young adults out there, I don't find that attractive in either real males or fictional ones. The romance between Celaena and Chaol isn't love at all, either; it's pure lust, as it boils down to them sleeping with each other every night, and sometimes several times a day, and their always thinking about having sex with one another when they should be doing their jobs.

Plot: Celaena Sardothien, the most ruthless and famous assassin of the realm, is now the king's Champion. She does his bidding, killing who he tells her to, with no questions asked. Celaena is paid well, and she lives at the glass castle, with the hopes of winning her freedom after several years of service. But Celaena is anything but loyal to the man who slaughtered her family and imprisoned her in the salt mines. While she does the king's bidding, she also does the bidding of the ghost of Elena, the ancient Fae queen. And Elena has told Celaena that she must find the source of the king's power before he becomes truly unstoppable. Okay, I've made you guys wait long enough for the explanation behind the two-strawberry rating. What made this one slightly better than Book #2? There were moments in Crown of Midnight that were truly, 100% epic. You heard me right - epic! When the plot wasn't focusing on the romance, and Celaena was instead investigating the catacombs and ancient tombs underneath the castle, trying to find the king's source of power, I very much enjoyed Crown of Midnight. There were heart-pounding moments, and some seriously surprising twists. And with the third-person narration, the Reader was able to get away from Celaena from time to time, and I enjoyed those parts a lot as well. There's also the world building. I do very much love this fantasy world that the Author has built, and she does a lot more exploring of it in this one, and promises to do even more in the next book. The book's biggest downfall is the romance. And unfortunately, it does take up enough of the book's time to significantly impact the rating.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. Thank goodness, because if I had to be locked inside of Celaena's head, no amount of epicness or talking doorknockers would have saved me. The style itself isn't bad, nor is it my favorite. But the Author is good at writing action sequences.

Content: 2 s-words. Chaol and Celaena sleep together - all the time - though there are never any details.

Conclusion: The ending was epic; that is, the lead-up. The fight. Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm willing to stick with this series for a little bit longer. It has so much potential! Celaena could be a good protagonist, or at least tolerable (though I don't think she ever will), and if the romance gets toned down, the book will be awesome. I hope Dorian continues to make the mature decision, because if I can like at least one of the males consistently, that will be an improvement that could bump the next book's rating to three strawberries. We'll see. I am cautiously hopeful for this series, I really am.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, eighteen-and-up, fans of high fantasy and girl assassins.

Others in This Series:
0.1)The Assassin's Blade
1)Throne of Glass
2)Crown of Midnight
3)Heir of Fire

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