I am an adult, but sometimes I have moments where my juvenile side screams to get out, and let me tell you, I am trying so hard right now not to call this book KINGDOM OF ASS. Trying, but not really succeeding because it really was a Kingdom of Ass. This book sucked. And you know, it's funny, because I've been seeing nothing but 5-star reviews for this book in my feed and had so many people commenting on my reviews for the earlier books in these series saying, "No, you don't understand, you have to read all the books to like them and give them a fair chance" (which seems a bit like a scam to me; why should I have to read 4+ books in a series I don't like to begin with to give it a "fair" chance? I thought I was giving the books a "fair" chance by reading the first one), but the joke's on you because I read the whole damn series, minus TOWER OF YAWN (oops), and I actually liked them less.
I will never understand the hype behind this series. It's not that I am opposed to reading trash - I do, in abundance. But the story itself just isn't that interesting. It reads like bad fanfiction: the main character, Aelin/Celery is a special girl, a Chosen One, who acquires more and more special powers and bed partners as the series goes on, only to finally settle on her Chosen Soulmate. The closest example for this unapologetic self-fangirling than I can think of is Anita Blake, who eventually became intolerable because her personality was lost to Speshulness.
Her Speshul journey takes her across many kingdoms, and eventually she realizes that she isn't a poor assassin/orphan - she's a magical fairy princess. Excuse me, I just choked on my tea writing that. Good lord, it sounds even worse when written out on paper. What are we doing here, trading one kind of Speshul for another like they're Pokemon cards and calling it character development? Also, NOTHING HAPPENS. There are action scenes but there's also a lot of talking - and the dialogue in this book? Picture the annoying, pretentious way people talk when they are satirizing rich 1920s New Yorkers with monocles. That's basically how the people in these books talk. Ugh.
This particular book is also problematic AF. It's always really bothered me how Maas constantly describes how skinny or slim Aelin/Celery is. And yes, I know - she was a prisoner in the salt mines, etc. Malnourished and what have you. But that was six books ago, and there were at least two books in the series where this girl sat on her ass eating candy and other junk, and yet she is constantly described as slim - and in this book, her legs are described as being as skinny as reeds, post-torture. Her relationship with food and her appearance just don't seem healthy, and considering the physicality of her role in this book, she really should have muscle mass. Fighting and being whip thin don't really go together, especially if you insist (as this character does) on taking on bigger opponents. Even if you're skilled, there's a thing called gravity and momentum that will make life hard for you. That's why wrestling and boxing have different weight classes.
I also thought it was really gross when Dorian shape-shifts into a female form and even though they're in the middle of war, he's like, "I wonder if I have time to go to my tent and find out how to make women 'purr with pleasure.'" By which he means, of course, sneak off and masturbate to play "find the clit." First of all, 'purr with pleasure' sounds like the sort of dirty talk a creep at a bar would use (you know, the ones with the pencil 'staches). Second of all, gross. You're in the body of the opposite sex and your first thought is, "Let's objectify it!" Oh Dorian, what happened to you? You used to be cool.
KINGDOM OF ASS (oops) is also the book where everyone gets paired up, even if it doesn't make sense. I don't see Manon/Dorian as a couple, and didn't really like Lorcan/Elide. Who the hell is Yrene and why did she magick Chaol out of a wheelchair? That feels kind of gross to me, like "love cures all ills" taken to ableist extremes. Granted, he still uses a cane. I will never ship Rowan and Aelin, AKA the Specialsons, and their scenes together were eyeroll worthy. Dorkly, the YouTube channel that makes funny video game videos, has this running joke that Luigi is a fanfic writer who is fond of things like mpreg and forced ships, and the tagline goes "and then they all kissed and got super pregnant." Which is funny, but that could basically be the synopsis for this book.
SJM also takes her plot holes and oversights and turns them into McGuffins the way Taylor Swift turns relationship drama into music. Why doesn't this character remember X thing? A magical spell. Why doesn't this important character have a first name? A magical spell. Okay. Why was the only person of color in the book at the time killed off? A magical freaking spell. (I still haven't forgiven Maas for killing off Nehemia.) And when all else fails, she'll railroad character development into the ground to get what she wants in the story. Chaol's "betrayal" that pushed Aelin/Celery into the arms of Rowan? Bullshit. Rowan going from a psychotic jerk to a pussycat? Bullshit. Dorian going from charming playboy to sex-obsessed creep who is utterly incompetent at his job? Bullshit. Manon going from warrior queen to "I love you snookums, war is so divine!"? Bullshit. Aelin/Celery getting special power upon special power stacked up to the point where she's basically a god? Super bullshit.
At least with some of the other books (primarily 2 and 3), I could at least find some things to like. But when the books started to become literal doorstops, with the redeeming elements spaced further and further out, I started to like the books less and less. This book should have had a date with a team of editors and had about 400 pages shaved off. Maybe 200 if you actually enjoy POV switches. I don't. But yes, I'm finally done with the series (minus, as I said, TOWER OF YAWN, which I no longer want to read). And surprise, surprise, reading all the books didn't change my opinion of the series. Just goes to show that die-hard stans will grasp for any excuse to invalidate your opinion, I guess.
My prediction for the ending:
"...Aelin died in her stupid box at the bottom of the stupid ocean because she was a stupid and nobody liked her except Rowan, and that didn't matter because he was stupid as well and so were his fail-tattoos of all the mistakes he'd made in life. In fact, he was poisoned by the ink and died too.
And then Nehemia woke up and realized that these last 5,000 pages of bullshit were all just a dream. She, Chaol, and Dorian frolicked in a forest somewhere. A forest that had no stupid in it at all.
Don't @ me
1 out of 5 stars