Reviewed in Canada on June 13, 2017
I pre-ordered the ebook copy so I could get it right away. I was so happy and excited when I got it in the wee hours of the morning of May 2nd but I got scared that it took me a day to muster my courage to finally read it (after waiting for a year, hello!). My review might have tiny bits of spoilers (but no major details), so do not proceed in reading this if you don't want to know any events in the book.
So... Let's talk about the beginning, with where the second book ended. If you remember there was so much hatred there for Tamlin, and Feyre was determined to bring the whole Spring Court down. That was a major cliff-hanger as it was so intense and very promising. We waited for a year to find out how she's going to handle the situation there alone. However, it was just disappointing for me that I found that certain period to be really short and I wish the time she spent there was a bit longer - that there were more deceiving events. But of course, the story needed to move on at some point.
I must say that Feyre's strength, maturity and loyalty were really evident in all the efforts she exerted to form certain alliances even with other characters that I really didn't see coming, (view spoiler) and all the adventures that she went into together with Rhysand and the rest of their family. I admire her that she was able to hold her own and prove to the others that she is worthy of being called a High Lady - it's just so majestic, especially when she claims and says it out loud!
On another note, I found her and Rhysand annoying though at some point. It was whenever they kept on saying that everything is always Feyre's choice. I got that message already in ACOMAF, and another mention of it in this book wouldn't have hurt. But I didn't expect it to be repeated over and over here. Also, the intimate scenes between those two... they're a bit disappointing. They were lacking in so many ways and I don't know if it was because of the safe words used by the author, the lackluster description, or the fact that it had already been established by SJM in Q&As that Feyre and Rhysand will remain as mates - so it wasn't as interesting anymore as it used to be in the second book. It could be because in ACOMAF, there was that mystery, tension and longing between them. But now, they're just always cheesy and lovey-dovey. Those scenes could've been upped to be sexy and steamy since this is actually NOT a children's book (let's not forget that this series is wrongly categorized since the beginning under children's/teens' which is mortifying)!
There were also other events in the book that just kept me asking for more. Most of the supposed-to-be important events had me on my toes and kept me reading for hours with no food and water. The suspense in each event were greatly amplified but sometimes they just leave me shaking my head because of the half baked story telling. It made me then think that they were just snippets forced to be included in the story to at least have something to look forward to or be fearful of. Don't get me wrong, they were indeed essential in the flow of the story but how SJM made the characters deal with the problems and the actions they took to solve them could've been prolonged and more detailed.
As for the other characters, I ADORE THEM! With Nesta, that much I have expected and never changed - she's still as feisty as she can be. And her with Cassian, it hasn't really been established but I'm hoping you guys have already read the short story about those two right after ACOMAF was released last year. There's indeed tension and passion between them and I think it will just be a matter of time before the mating bond (I'm hoping, I'm really hoping that it exists!!!) snaps into place. With Lucien, there was a bit more of him here as compared to the second book. He showed how courageous he is (view spoiler) but I'm craving for him more in action! And of course, Rhysand. He was such a great support to Feyre and he really showed how selfless he is in this book. Aside from doing his best to unite everyone, he really gave his all to protect everyone and to achieve that goal of creating a new world - another dream of his. As for the new characters (and old ones with their revelations)whom I will not mention so I don't really spoil anything, love the diversity! From the appearance, the secrets, up to their own personal selves - I am so happy that these were included in the story! Inclusion, that is the main theme of this story. Everyone is struggling with their own issues, and it's not bad to be different. You'll see in this book that some of the characters would just want to be themselves and be free of all the judgements from other people. They had to struggle to exist in their own right (be it Fae, human, or whatever creature), to hide the truth they had to hurt people around them, not to mention also their own selves. So it's not just about what kind of creature you are, but it's also about who you really are and how it is important to be able to be included and accepted in society openly - a world open to diversity and inclusion.
And now let's talk about Tamlin. I still have a soft spot for him and I can understand why he became such a pain to everyone. Hey, he was fooled! Let's not forget, Feyre showed understanding, kindness and love not just to him but also to his people in the very beginning of this series. And because of that, he was able to love and become happy again after a long time. But she tricked him! So imagine everything he went through from the very start, all the guilt inside him building up as time went by, all his efforts trying to make up for the mistakes he made cast aside and he ended up in a pit again - but it's deeper this time. As I've mentioned in my ACOMAF review, Tamlin was already broken to begin with, even before meeting Feyre. And it just became worse as he was fooled and played with by everyone around him! He had high hopes, he really did. Unfortunately, they all just broke him even more into tiny little pieces. He was left with no one to turn to. So I can just imagine the kind of darkness he was in. Love can be really cruel as it made him choose the wrong decisions left and right. Let's give him some credit because he did try to redeem himself by making up for everything he had done in the past to keep Feyre happy and safe. And I still admire him. He's a dreamer and I too hope he finds happiness. Oh, how I cried harder with what he did...
So after all those surprises left and right - all the lies, betrayals, scandals, bargains, allegiance, loyalty, revelations, sacrifices, and promises, I think A Court of Wings and Ruin deserves 4 stars from me even though I was actually expecting a different ending (view spoiler). Even with all the "girl power" (how lame I might've worded it to be), in the end Sarah J. Maas showed that in this war, it's not just the High Lords who have vital roles. There was also emphasis on those who are different, evidently those who were "Made" to push for harmony between humans, faes and other creatures. The message that it is indeed possible to build that kind of world, only if the majority is willing to fight for it.
And that concludes my LONGEST book review ever! There were just so much to say that I have to mention some specific details in the book to make my point. And if you're curious, I also cried in this book because of certain events - especially at the end, like my feelings were toyed with by the author. My full review with spoilers can be found on my Goodreads account, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post the link here. So it's up to you to be able to find me there! ;)