Review ~ Queen of Shadows

Author: Sarah J Maas
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Length: 656
Publication Date: September, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Bought
Goodreads | Amazon
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
**Spoilers from previous books. Slight QoS spoilers about romance.

Throne of Glass has been one of my favorite series for a few years now, so I've been impatiently waiting for Queen of Shadows and building the expectations to the highest degree. The fourth installment wowed me yet had some flaws I can't ignore.

As much as I'd like to blindly give myself over to the epicness of this series and say "It was perfect, and everything was amazing" I can't do that as a reviewer. Nor can I do that as a reader/person in general. I refuse to trick myself! Overall though, I have so many positive things to say about this book,and a few negative things to discuss.

The Plot

First let's start with the plot development. I bow down to Sarah J Maas and her brilliant plotting. I am astounded by all the ties and connections reaching so far back to The Assassin's Blade. There are lots of ah-ha and mind-blowing moments. Everything connects in some way, and Maas is a magnificent plotter. The pacing was a bit slow for the first 300 pages, but there's so much plot build-up and development that keeps us engaged. Maas' writing has progressively matured into a beautiful story-telling talent. There's an ominous edge to it that perfectly matches the tone of the series. I feel this series is getting darker and darker; it's often pitched as a less promiscuous YA Game of Thrones. There are some bloody scenes, lots of death, and quite a bit of pain. Action is interspersed throughout the story too.

The Characters

Let's talk about the characters! In Heir of Fire, I had a few issues with the various POV switches, but I thought the transitions were smoother in Queen of Shadows, and I actually like Manon and her story a bit more in this book. Elide is also introduced, and while her POV was my least favorite, her character is pretty tenacious and smart, so I can't wait to see where she goes next. Lysandra is re-introduced, and I love her sassy and snarky character. Nesyrn is a rebel who is part of the city guard. She's pretty stoic and strong-willed, and I like her! Aedion will always be a bright star with his unending devotion and loyalty to Aelin. Dorian's character and POVs were painful and sad to read. I love him and thought his tenacity and decisiveness were admirable.  

Squad assembled in this book, and I was so happy about that!! I love Aelin's court/group and seeing them all come together was definitely one of my favorite parts. Light banter and strong female friendships prevail, and I approve! Arobynn comes back into this novel and oh geez I forgot how cynical and ruthless he is. Sam has such a presence in this novel which was equal parts surprising, somber, and up-lifting.

Let's talk about Rowan, Chaol, and Aelin. Such fun. While I loved all the other characters mentioned above, I had so much trouble with these three. Please don't stone me, but I'm going to call BS and say these people were SO out of character for the first 300 pages. I liked Rowan a bit better in this book, but whoa has he changed. No longer is he the tight***, brutal and unemotional warrior. He's now reduced to a horny teenager who pines over Aelin. I failed to see many similarities between this Rowan and the one from HoF. Chaol, oh my sweet Chaol. Honorable Captain of the Guard, now disgraced and rebel-turned. His bitterness has reached his peak just as his character and his POV has been diminished. I still hold on to the hope he'll achieve redemption. Chaol has grown so much throughout this series, yet he still needs time to grow. He's used to his beliefs and blindly and honorably follows his king. Now that everything he knows and loves is being threatened and challenged, he's had to change, and not everyone reacts the same way to change. He's made progress!

Aelin has turned malicious and bitter. I love how bad*** she is and how she fights for what she believes in, but I missed her sarcastic nature. I missed the girl who loved reading and dresses yet also loved to show people her girl power and how awesome she is. She lacked the confidence and humor I associate with her. Just because she and Celaena have different goals, I don't think that should mean her character takes a 180 turn.  Most of all Aelin is highly hypocritical, especially towards Chaol. Aelin and Chaol are both mad at each other for both reasonable and unreasonable things. Personally I think they were both being hypocritical as they slung insults and accusations at each other at their first meeting in QoS. I see faults on both sides, but I think they'll work through it eventually.

The Romance

Speaking of Aelin and Chaol, you've probably heard about the romance news. I'll be honest, this ship is sunk and blasted to smithereens. They want and need different things, and it would never work out. It twinges my heart and makes me wonder about the so-called significance of the words exchanged on Crown of Midnight. Some things literally do NOT make sense. Aelin even says something to the effect of "Even though I said I'd always pick you, I didn't mean I'd actually always pick you." I feel like books 1 and 2 were so insignificance and fake now in regards to the romance. I think it's fresh and unique to see how realistic the portrayal of falling into and out of love is, but it still hurts. I feel like we were led on in Crown of Midnight, and you can't deny all the words they said to each other. 

Jumping to the romance, I do not understand it nor will I get on board with it. I'm not being a stubborn Chaolaena shipper (okay maybe a little bit), but I fail to see Rowaelin in the long run. Rowan is the type of guy Aelin needs right now. I just don't understand how things progressed from Heir of Fire as a platonic friendship to a lusty and yearning attachment in Queen of Shadows. I feel like I missed an extra novella or something. Rowan had his one true mate AND is three hundred years old. This romance does not compute. That being said, there actually isn't much romance in this book, it's more promises to come in the next book.

As Cait from Paper Fury pointed out, there are so many conveniences in the romance department. Nesryn will take Celaena's place in Chaol's heart, so Aelin and Rowan can be happy together, and everything is all sparkly rainbows and wonderful now. I feel like this is such an easy way out. The Chaolin breakup was brutal, and I'm sad to see how it wrecked their friendship too.The last 150 pages of the book are insanely epic and wonderful. The characters grow into their own a bit more as well. 

Overall the amazing plot, squad assemblage, and writing make this book wonderful while the romance and earlier portrayal of the characters sorely disappointed and confused me.

Rachel is a teenaged unapologetic fangirl and perfectionist.

She loves reading for the escape it gives from reality and enjoys crying over books, swooning over characters, and laughing out loud over funny lines. She is a semi-recovering Netflix addict and a middle child of three.

You can find her on Twitter @yaperfectionist & Goodreads.

15 comments:

  1. No matter how many reviews I've read of QoS, this one still made me cry. I just can't get past the fact that my ship has sunk, and I don't think I'll be able to appreciate everything else, if I am dissatisfied with the ship and the characters. I guess this is the end for me and ToG. *go sobs in a corner*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You guys are going to make me cry!! Is there seriously no hope for Chaolaena? A Reader Under The Sea

      Delete
  2. Great review! I definitely agree that the romance aspect is too forced in Queen of Shadows. Rowan and Aelin's relationship too abruptly went from platonic to romantic, which is a shame, since they had such a strong mentor/mentee relationship before. Also, there's the whole "Rowan is three hundred years old" thing, which kind of gives me the heebie jeebies...XD

    Annie @ Indoor Sojourner

    ReplyDelete
  3. AHH. I'll have to admit that while I really liked Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire was a bit meh for me. But I am definitely going to have to still give this a try Rachel - just out of curiosity more than anything else. Thank you for sharing this wonderful review! ♥

    ReplyDelete
  4. I loved Aelin in this book, but I miss how she was in Crown of Midnight. Sigh, to be honest, that was where my love for the series ended because HoF made it lose its charm in my case. I agree about the romance conveniences, and GOD it hurts that Chaolaena doesn't exist anymore. I'm clinging to the really slim hope of redeeming for them. :( Great review, Rachel.

    Vane at Books With Chemistry

    ReplyDelete
  5. I just finished HoF on Friday, and am sooooooo heartbroken by this. I was holding onto hope. My feelings about that aside, great review.

    ReplyDelete
  6. THANK YOU. I feel like you put everything into words that I've been thinking ever since I finished the book. The characters all changed SO MUCH and so unexpectedly. And the romance. Just NO. I always felt like Rowan was some kind of father-figure or brother to Celaena in HoF and I cannot and will not accept that they are now teenagers in love. How did this happen? And I really am also trying not to be a stubborn Chaolaena shipper but I never really got the feeling in HoF that Celaena/Aelin had really hated Chaol. I didn't think they would be happily back together once they saw each other again but what happened in QoS seemed a little extreme. And if Chaol now conveniently ends up with Nesryn, Aelin with Rowan I'm going to be so angry. Why not just throw Dorian and Manon in there, because clearly they exchanged a meaningful look and it would match up perfectly, right?

    Okay, I'll stop complaining now but you really just put my thoughts into words and I couldn't hold back. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
  7. same rach! i actually really liked the new characters introduced; especially manon and lysandra. i cannot wait to read more about them. and hA I TOTALLY AGREE ABOUT ROWAN'S CHARACTER CHANGING. I FEEL LIKE SJM IS DOING IT ON PURPOSE TO MAKE HIM LIKEABLE.

    ""Even though I said I'd always pick you, I didn't mean I'd actually always pick you." I feel like books 1 and 2 were so insignificance and fake now in regards to the romance."" AMEN TO THIS RACH AMEN

    "I just don't understand how things progressed from Heir of Fire as a platonic friendship to a lusty and yearning attachment in Queen of Shadows." PREACH THIS.

    can we talk about rowan is immortal and aelin isn't :) hA HA :)

    one of the best reviews for queen of shadows out there!

    isha @ two sisters bloggin'

    ReplyDelete
  8. Fantastic review! Although I did love this one, I couldn't agree more about how the some of the original characters from Throne of Glass were out of character. As for the romance, I always shipped them so I was content to ignore anything else xD

    ReplyDelete
  9. AHA, even though I absolutely adored Rowaelin now (please don't kill me), I have to agree that Rowan kinda shocked me. I mean, what happened to the dude in Heir of Fire? There wasn't even a HINT of love in that book towards Aelin and vice versa. I felt that the author could have at least write a scene in which Rowan and Aelin progressed to fall in love with each other.

    Even though I've been Team Chaol for a while, I guess I kinda knew that he wouldn't end up with Aelin? There was a quote in Heir of Fire (or was it CoM?) which said that "Even though he knew that Celaena would always choose him, Aelin wouldn't." or something like that HAHA. But sigh, I did get crushed by the ship sinking. OH WELLLLLL.

    Right now, though, I think the romance aspect doesn't affect me anymore. I kinda suspected how it would all fall into place. I just am looking forward to the (I hope) epic conclusion :D

    Maryam @ Once Upon A Story

    ReplyDelete
  10. I DID NOT READ YOUR REVIEW CLOSELY BECAUSE I JUST GOT THIS ONE. :O I probably won't read it until I have a solid amount of time (i.e. Thanksgiving break or winter break) but I definitely plan on reading it this year. :D I can see that you gave it four stars, yay! Fabulous review, Rachel!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I couldn't read the whole review due to spoilers and not having read any of the Throne of Glass series (I know, I know, I will do! My library doesn't have any and it isn't usually a priority when buying books for some reason...) but I am going to get around to reading this eventually! I know a lot of people were waiting on this release so I am glad to see you were able to enjoy it so when you did get around to reading it :D

    ReplyDelete
  12. Giirrlll this book (well this series actually) is in my TBR and after I finish The Sweet trilogy by Wendy Higgins, best believe this one is next!! I had to skim of course because I didn't want to have any spoilers but I couldn't resist so I kind of spoiled it a little for the romance but I'm still reading it!;)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am a little over halfway through and I am just so bummed about the Rowan/Aelin thing. A three-hundred-year-old warrior is reduced to a slobbering mutt by a tiny pink nightie. I liked the strength of their bond and that it didn't NEED romance in order to have significance. Your review is all my thoughts exactly about this situation. My other problem so far is that everything has been happening so neatly for all the characters. Yes, they've had to work hard to accomplish their goals, but they've barely had any failures or setbacks. I thought for a moment when Arobynn put the ring on Aelin's finger that he was secretly working for the king, and I thought that would be the greatest plot twist ever. But it turns out everything was just peachy keen after all. I haven't finished yet so I'm sure more pain, struggle, and heartbreak is yet to come, but I can't help note just how easily everyone's been getting on so far.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I totally agree about Maas' writing, super impressive. I love how things have gotten SO twisted. I had a love-hate relationship with the switching POVs, but I always do. I agree that Manon's storyline got better and held my interest better in this book than in the previous one.

    About the Romance. I totally support where Maas is going with this. I reread the series before picking up this book and I picked up on SO many things about Choal thatit started to make sense to me. I look at their relationship like young love - you know the type, you think this person is the one and you say all kinds of significant things, until you realize that they actually aren't the one?

    Emily @ Follow the Yellow Book Road

    ReplyDelete

I read, value, and cherish each and every comment. Although I don't have time to respond to most of them, I make every effort to comment back on your blog! :)