February 2024 Wrap Up

I read only 2 books in February because it took a whole month for me to finish House of Flame and Shadow. Read on for a scathing review of an ultimately disappointing end to the Crescent City trilogy!

Stats:

  • Read: 2 books
  • One 3 star read, one 5 star
  • Favorite book of February: Check and Mate

Check and Mate by Ali Hazelwood

This romance based around the world of chess was emotional, angsty, and so cute. I loved learning about chess, and I loved the commentary on gender disparities in chess even more. Mallory’s struggles with guilt, her family, and her feelings about chess had me as invested in the non-romantic plotline as I was in the romance. She was a flawed and well written main character– as well as Nolan. Mallory and Nolan’s relationship had the perfect balance of healthy competition as chess rivals and supportiveness of one another as a couple. There was that classic Hazelwood over-the-top millennial humor (but with MANY Gen Z references) thrown in that is always half hit, half miss for me, but it didn’t bother me too much. What an inventive romance, and a perfect young adult debut by Hazelwood!  Rating: 5 stars

House of Flame and Shadow by Sarah J. Maas

 The first half of this book went really well for me. I really liked the multiple POVs and different plotlines that were happening at once, since I enjoyed reading about the side characters just as much as the main characters. The aspects of friendship and found family were nice. However, the latter half pissed me off to no end. First of all, we get the largest info dump known to man, which could have been split into smaller sections throughout the three books– but no, 10% of the 800 page book was dedicated to an info dump.

The other main issue I had with SJM’s writing was that it was filled with deus ex machinas. Challenges and problems were solved for no other reason than “Bryce is Starborn and her power can do literally anything including opening up black holes and controlling islands and mists”. The plot became so nonsensical and illogical. Many characters suddenly were able to do things with their powers that made no sense. SJM defied the laws of nature itself and her own magic system in order to give her characters plot armor. 

Examples:

  • Bryce has the ability to create black holes, even though she has light powers. 
  • Hunt’s lightning is used as a rope to pull him in rodeo-style. I’m sorry, but lightning is not ROPE.
  • Tharion’s water becomes a tourniquet and stops the bleeding of a gunshot wound. 

I used to love the worldbuilding and magic system in this trilogy, but in this book it seemed like all the characters could do the same things with their magic and no power was unique anymore. The ending was anticlimactic and classic SJM, so it was predictably boring. This was a disappointing end to a trilogy that I had loved previously. Rating: 3 stars

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