Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Published by Bloomsbury
Pages: 420
Genre: Fantasy (YA)
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My 'Throne of Glass' review

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 allegiances—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. (Goodreads synopsis)

"I heard the music and I just wanted to dance for a few moments. To just...forget everything for one waltz and pretend to be a normal girl."

This book could also have went by the title 'The Secrets, Lies and Stupidity of Celaena Sardothien, Chaol Westfall, Prince Dorian and Princess Nehemia'.

I hate secrets. Especially secrets kept for no good reason. Secrets - if used badly - are little more than plot devices. At best, they fester and then when the truth comes out it's like this big chasm has been ripped. Now, it can be used well, I don't doubt, but in this book... The secrets were stupid, as a whole, and they were being kept from people that were, at-the-least, friends As much as I adored these people, each of the main characters had at least one secret. Most of them were things that just needed to be said. Just, out with it.

When I started to realize that there were all these secrets being kept from people that could help and by people that really should know better and after reading this line in the jacket flap 'Then, one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy' I was envisioning a knockdown, drag-out fight. Or at least an argument. There wasn't. In fact, it was only one secret that lead to this 'tragedy'. A tragedy that, yes, was horrible, but that I saw coming ever since I realized that this secret wasn't going to be told. Besides the fact that it was narrated with such a lack of emotion that I really couldn't feel anything besides some distant pain.

Celaena still occasionally showed signs of being the awesome, kickbutt chick from Throne. However, besides the constant lies and secrets, she also refused to do a thing that would put her little bubble in danger. It's like everyone else can die, just as long as she and her 'friends' are safe. I can understand it, but I believe there's not much Celaena could have done to make me dislike her more. At one point, toward the very end of the book, Celaena thought something like 'doesn't he realize the trap he's put me in' and at that point I actually cursed Celaena out because no, no he doesn't because she's never told anyone anything. She keeps a minimum of four secrets throughout the book and that one that put her in the trap - yeah, it's still kept by the end of the book. She had not one but two reveals about her 'past'. Okay, I saw the first one coming, but it was still totally awesome. I figured out the second one moments before Chaol did and I was left going 'how generic'. In retrospect, I should have seen it coming from a quarter of the way through the book.

As for Chaol, as much as I adored him in the first book, he ticked me off in this one. I still inherently like him (Chaol, Fleetfoot, portal, anyone?) but his 'secret' falls more into the stupidity portion of my makeshift title. In fact, Chaol throughout most of this book acted rather...well, stupid. After the way he behaved in the first book, I expected something more than 'yes, my lord' and supreme obedience. And his near obsession with Celaena was baffling to say the least. If some guy treated me the way that Celaena treated him, I would have stayed far, far away.

I will admit, some of the secrets (specifically Dorian's, but also, to a much lesser extent, Nehemia's) were kept for a good reason. Nehemia's secret was understandable, but she should have told her supposed 'friend' Celaena early on. Of course, I wouldn't have told Celaena the sky was blue considering the way she was acting in this book... Princess Nehemia is such a prize. She's exactly what a princess should be. And, believe me, as a girl that watches way too much anime, I have seen some truly great princesses. But this girl just takes the cake. She's smart and brave and determined and so incredibly gutsy. She knows what she wants to do for her kingdom as well as how to go about it. I honestly think that this girl isn't afraid of anything.

Dorian's secret was one that I could totally understand him not telling anyone - especially because it had been kept from him until this book and he was barely coming to terms with it. Dorian's actually the one that impressed me the most this time around. To me, in the first book, Dorian was a coward. He never stood up to his father, just sitting over there like a good little heir. Never making waves or making daddy upset. In this sequel though... he stood up - figuratively and literally - and I really like him for that. It felt like he was finally trying to get out from under his father's thumb. Maybe he didn't make the best decisions, but I have to give him respect for trying.

You know, even after everything they had been through, towards the end of the book, when Dorian was admitting the truth to Celaena - she was still lying through her teeth and right to his face. For this book I was all set to say something like 'I can understand why Chaol and Dorian like Celaena so much'. Seriously, before this book, I had a crush on her myself. Now, I know Dorian can do better and I have a bit of a suspicion that Chaol can as well.

If  the secrets had been cut out, there would have been no plotpoints. Seriously. Every large event in this book - as well as several of the smaller ones - were brought about because of a secret someone - usually Celaena - kept. In fact, the whole setup for book three is based on something that wouldn't have happened if Celaena would have actually talked to these people.

This was not a fun book. It was depressing. Nothing good happened - unless you think the romance was good, but the way that was handled, if you were there for the romance, you'd probably feel like your heart was being ripped out.
Three Stars