So, I have a few books that one could call my arch-nemeses. There are books I strongly dislike, and then there are books that came into my house, punched me in the face, and stole my dog. (Actually, I’m just a drama queen.) I’m here to talk about the latter! In a strange way, I kind of love them. I mean, I hate them, but I love them, so why not talk about them? I just want to talk about the good things these books had going for them and why, ultimately, those good things weren’t enough to get me to like them. Poor books.
Sarah came up with this idea, and it was too good for me to pass up. So I stole it.
Six of Crows
That’s right! Because I like to start things off with a bit of spicy controversy, I’m here to bash the book community’s fave.
I mean, say good things. That’s what we’re here for.
I like that Inej was Romani-coded? It’s sad, but I’ve hardly ever seen Romani main characters. They’re usually relegated either to the MyStIcAl side characters or else to the eeeevil vagrant role. Sometimes both, for good measure! So yeah, I liked that this book actually gave Inej a real, major role.
I also liked…
Hold on. Let me think.
Okay, okay, I’ll be fair. I actually liked or at least didn’t mind most of the side characters. Inej, the deuteragonist, was underdeveloped with poorly written trauma, but her basic concept was good. I couldn’t connect with Jesper, but again, I think the basic concept was good, and he wouldn’t need nearly as much fleshing out in order to get me to like him as Inej. I actually genuinely liked Wylan and Matthias! I’ll always (sometimes) have a hankering for the cute, soft characters, so Wylan was nice, and Matthias was the one character I would say was genuinely fleshed-out and complex. I legit loved Matthias! He was cool! And yeah, he did a lot of stupid things and had kind of violent tendencies, but I think it definitely made sense in context with his backstory. I like characters who go through some kind of conflict. Especially characters who realize they’re on the wrong side and slowly realize they have to leave behind everything they were taught. Just…God, I will always love that kind of arc.
(As a side note, it’s been a while since I read this, but I cannot remember one personality trait Nina had? Did she have any??)
Anyway, I don’t think I’d hate this book at all if it weren’t for the fact that I wanted to punt the smirking edgelord of a hero across the Pacific the whole time I was reading. (Did Kaz smirk? He seems like the sort of guy who would smirk.) Now, I don’t think I would have liked it even without Kaz–I personally didn’t find a lot of depth to the story–but Kaz did a LOT to tip my feelings over the edge.
Also, I just love gratuitous glorified torture scenes!! 😍 We stan complex handlings of violence. (And the anti-Asian racism–I’m SORRY I know I’m supposed to be saying good things.)
In conclusion, I stan Matthias and kind-of Wylan and would ditch everyone else.
The Cruel Prince
Madoc. Madoc was the only good part of this book and I stand by what I said. The book kept trying to tell me he was sooo violent and unmanageable but he was actually the most reasonable and intelligent character in the book? I still agree with what I said in my review about how he should have been the protagonist of the story. Also, he’s the only character who actually, you know…does stuff?
I also like the premise of this story! Human girl takes over fairy kingdom is not a bad plot at all. I just wish there were more actually-taking-over-the-kingdom parts and less vaguely rapey parts.
Red Riding Hood
Actually, you know what, there were no good parts of this book. Throw the whole thing away.
I reviewed it, sort of
Snow Like Ashes
I hated this one for the girl-hate and the dissing of sewists. And also Meira was a brat and the soldiers fighting for the villain were demonized even though they were literally magically brainwashed?? Apparently? I guess? And the plot was the most cliche high-fantasy plot you can come across 😷
I read this when I was young, so it has been a while, but I thought the concept of dividing kingdoms into seasons was very cool. Like sure, it’s not actually possible if you apply logic to it, but fantasy doesn’t always work off of logical assumptions! Also, I liked how the people from Winter had white hair and were immune to the cold, especially because I would also like to be immune to the weather.
Also, THERON OR THEON OR WHATEVER HIGH-FANTASY NAME HE HAD. HE WAS THE BEST. I stan my poet prince! He literally was so unproblematic and just wanted to help people, and was so good at connecting with people on an individual level 💙 But of course Meira went for the cardboard one instead.
The fat queer character got killed off in a really graphic and unnecessary way, but I mostly just disliked it because every character (aside from the fat queer character who died) was flat. And the worldbuilding wasn’t that developed, either?
But! I don’t really have strong feelings about this book one way or the other. I mean, I didn’t like it, but there wasn’t a lot I hated, either. I do think that, while the world was underdeveloped, the story definitely created a strong atmosphere? I liked that. Also, it was nice to have a black mc in a fantasy novel! (Do I capitalize the words black and white when referring to ethnicity? Google keeps giving me conflicting answers and I’m so confused.) Having a black main character in a fantasy shouldn’t be something that’s unusual, but unfortunately I feel like black mcs in fantasy can be a little hard to come across. (They’re definitely there, though!) Either that or else I’m looking in the wrong places.
I don’t even hate this book, I just dislike it. So it shouldn’t even be on this list, but I needed a way to pad out that word count somehow ❤
Strange the Dreamer & Muse of Nightmares
I said on Goodreads that this duology felt like a fever dream, and I stand by what I said! It was long-winded and just sooo problematic >.< The handling of slavery and sexual assault was low-key abysmal? I mean, Eril-Fane was okay, but Ruby being implied to assault slaves was not as quirky as the story thought it was! And Lazlo was such a Mary Sue, my God. Anyway, this and The Cruel Prince are my favorite books to hate! (I have favorite books to hate because I’m an incredibly hateful person.)
I think some of the concepts set up in this book were very, very cool. I still love the idea of the ghost bird, and I love the idea of someone who can manipulate dreams! I’d kind of like to write a character with dream powers myself someday. Also, I loved the library and I kind of wish the whole book could have taken place there!
Eril-Fane is the king of character development and you cannot tell me otherwise. He deserved a better book. He deserved to be the protagonist. I love him! (And frankly, I’m kind of salty over the fact that the narrative kept dragging him over the coals for killing those kids. Which sounds like an absolutely RIDICULOUS thing to say out of context, but seriously, he had no reason to believe that the kids wouldn’t be super-powered montrous spawns of Satan. His decision definitely made sense in context with both what Eril-Fane knew at the time and with everything he had been through, and he was just trying to prevent his country’s people from going through systematic mass rape and murder again. In fact, you know what? The kids we saw were spawns of Satan. I say Eril-Fane should have killed more kids and we should all respect his right to kill kids–is that a mob with pitchforks and torches I see outside my window?)
And the way science/alchemy (kind of the same thing in this world) was portrayed in this was beautiful and amazing and it should have!! been the focus of the book!! The science was waay more interesting than any magic systems the book had. But really, I think the author honestly got the magical, wonderful nature of science that a lot of people miss. (Including me. I FAILED at science.)
I loved Thyon, but I have no idea if I would have latched onto him if there were other good characters who had screen-time. (My king Eril-Fane deserved SO much more screen-time *cries*) There were…a lot of things that went wrong, to say the least, but his arc was so compelling! But yeah, I liked him because
he was mentally ill and queer thank GOD I have Wei Wuxian to fill that need now he was a fairly unique take on a character type I love! Give me all the cold-hearted characters who realize they have feelings, okay? Some of his scenes were really emotional, especially in the second book? I wish the whole book could have been like the best Thyon scenes.
Anyway, there’s a lot I like about this book, which is why I hate it so much. There’s nothing I hate more than something I wish I could like. What was it Cardan said? ‘I hate you so much all I can think of is you?’ ‘I hate you so much I can barely breathe?’ Something like that? But I have a simple plan to fix this book, and all disaster can be averted! Except not, because it’s already published. But oh well!
anyway, I think the story should have been a trashy, problematic gay romance between Lazlo and Thyon. That, cutting most of the purple prose, and adding in some adventure would have made this one of my favorites. As well as cutting the weird parts with the sexual assault, the unhandled xenophobia and internalized homophobia (seriously, a word of advice to people out there, if you aren’t going to handle important topics and devote time to them please do not put them in your story), and the weirdly ableist bits. Then we would have the perfect story.
Or, you know, it could have just been a tasteful novel about Eril-Fane and Azareen and that would have been great.
Anyway, while you guys are absolutely not allowed to read my Strange the Dreamer review because it was my first review and it was TERRIBLE, here’s my Muse of Nightmares review
The Guinevere Deception
This isn’t a book I hate, more one that I have strongly mixed feelings about, but I put this here so I can say one thing:
That is all.
Many thanks to Sarah for letting me borrow her idea! I literally had so much fun with this. I feel like this was more of a roast than actually saying good things about the stories, but oh well.