Book Reviews: May 2018

I only read two books in May, but I’m fine with it because Outlander was a long one. I was on vacation at the end of the month, and even though I always tell myself I’ll read a ton on vacation, I never do. *shrugs*

  • A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Warning: both reviews contain vague spoilers.

 

 

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

After the war for Prythian, Feyre and the rest of her Night Court focus on rebuilding their city and relationships. Winter Solstice is nearing, and Feyre has to learn how to lead the event as High Lady.

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A lot of SJM fans seemed to be really disappointed by this, but I had zero expectations so I neither loved or hated it. I do agree with the general consensus that nothing really happens. All the main points could have easily been condensed into a few chapters at the beginning of the next book. To be honest, I was more interested in the sneak peek in the back of the novella than the actual novella.

One thing I did appreciate was Elain standing up for herself regarding Lucien. I’ve loved Lucien since the first book, but I hate hate hate how SJM pairs every single character up, and Elain essentially saying “Why am I obligated to be with him just because he says we’re mates?” was empowering for her.

Rhysand and Feyre kinda sucked in ACOFAS. This is SJM’s big problem as a writer - she’s so great at building up the tension and making you desperate to see characters get together, but once they’re actually a couple she drops the ball. They become bland and don’t grow closer, but instead stay eternally in this “we are soulmates and madly in love” immature phase. (I’m not hating on Rhysand himself though, ACOMAF is SJM’s best book.)

Overall it was nice to be back with the Night Court for a couple hours, and I liked the descriptions of Winter Solstice. If you plan to continue with SJM’s books in this world, I’d recommend reading this just to remain caught up but don’t expect too much out of it.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars


 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Claire Randall is on a second honeymoon with her husband Frank when she is whisked back through the past - to the year 1743 in Scotland. Claire finds herself falling for Jamie Fraser even as she tries to find her way back home.

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Outlander is the first in a series of eight books by the same name. According to Goodreads, they range from 750 to 1,400 pages, and the first one is 850. Plus there’s a TV show, novellas, and a spinoff book series - basically, a lot of Outlander stuff. And I liked the first book fine, but I won’t be reading the rest of them. There are way too many books I need to read first before I can justify about 8,000 more pages on Claire. I have been watching the show, though, and it does a good job of portraying the story so I’ll probably keep watching it. (Plus, pretty scenery.)

First things first - there was a lot of rape discussion in this book. Lots of near rapes, actual rapes, rape as a plot device. I don’t blame Gabaldon for including it, because it was realistic for the time period. But too often the plot moved because someone was raped. By the time I got to the ending I was over it and the rape scene at the end was over the top. It was truly horrible to read but also kinda felt like Gabaldon was just going for shock value.

For the first third or so of the book, I was all about Jamie. I enjoyed his friendship with Claire and the gradual buildup of their sexual tension. But then, that one scene involving punishment happened and I couldn’t look at their relationship the same way. Not necessarily because of Jamie; I think his character acted accurately from a historical perspective. Claire’s reaction bothered me. Maybe she’s not from 2018 and the #metoo movement, but she was still 200 years ahead of Jaime. She justified his actions in the same way abuse victims do. For someone as independent as Claire was, it seemed forced for the sake of the romance. 

Parts of the book were rewarding. Claire's relationship with Geillis, the descriptions of Scottish Highlander life, and the time travel/mystical elements all kept me reading. (And most of the Jaime moments were great.) Historical fiction is one of my favorites and Outlander delivered there, so if the premise intrigues you and length doesn't scare you then check it out. 

Rating: 3 of 5 stars