Friday, August 17, 2018

Let's Talk: "The Cruel Prince" by Holly Black

Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Series: "The Folk of the Air" #1
Genre: YA Fantasy 
Page Length: 370 pages
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Date Started: August 6, 2018
Date Finished: August 9, 2018
Rating: 3/5 stars

*This review is non-spoiler until noted otherwise*

So...I wrote an entire review and then in the same day decided those thoughts I had were completely wrong and I only had because I wanted to fit in with the hype. Unpopular opinion: this book wasn't fantastic. So, without further ado, here's my revised review.

Honestly, I thought I would love this book. I really did. It seemed like it had everything I love in a book: political intrigue, a badass main character, a forbidden romance, faeries, and so much more. I was let down. I really was.

Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy reading this book. I did enjoy reading it, but the more I look back on it, the more I’m disappointed by what I read. Everyone seemed to love this book and I can see how that might be the case, but for me, it missed the mark.

Most of what I have to say in this spoiler-free section is about the main character, the writing style, and the plot/pacing. I’ll go more in depth for specific characters and events in my spoiler-section. For now, let’s just talk about Jude.

I’ll say my relationship with Jude right now is on the rocks. Half the time I was reading from her, I was more annoyed or confused by her actions or inner monologues while the other half of the time I was screaming “Go Jude, get it girl!” in my head. I really wanted to love her, but I’m not entirely sure that I do. She was hypocritical or selfish a lot of the time, while other times she was very self-sacrificing to ensure that those around her weren’t hurt or in danger. It gave me whiplash, honestly.

Cardan…oh Cardan. When everyone talked about how awesome Cardan was, I expected him to be awesome. He wasn’t. He just…wasn’t awesome? He wasn’t a bad character, I guess, but he wasn’t as fantastic as all of this hype made him out to be. I’ll speak a lot more about him in my spoiler-section below, because I do have a lot to say.

For me, the writing wasn’t the best? It wasn’t terrible by any means, but I felt that I could have been done a lot better. Personally, it took me a while to get used to the first person writing. For complex fantasies, I’ve gotten used to reading third person. For me, the use of first person felt awkward and it took me a solid fifty or so pages to get used to the writing style. The use of first person also limited our view because we had to see exclusively through Jude’s rose-tinted glasses and take everything she said or thought as the absolute truth in that moment. I feel like I would have liked Jude more as a character had we not been inside her head the entire freaking book.

It read like a middle grade. The use of first person on top of the fact that most of this book didn’t follow the rule of “show, don’t tell” made me feel like I was reading something for middle-grade readers. There’s nothing wrong with middle-grade, of course, but when I want to read a complex story with political intrigue, I want the writing to reflect that? We were shown barely any political mess. Most of the action scenes or anything interesting weren’t detailed and it seemed as if we were getting a second-hand account of what was happening. I probably would have loved this book a lot more had I gotten more details.

I also didn’t connect with any of the characters, except maybe Jude a little. Just the writing style and lack of details made it almost impossible to connect to what a lot of the characters were feeling. I think that it being told first person from Jude’s point of view left us with only her views on the other characters, which I didn’t enjoy very much. The characters also felt very immature to me most of the time, and not just the younger ones but the adults too.

The plot was enjoyable but not amazing by any means. It definitely wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t realize that a good portion of the book would be schoolyard fighting and going to lectures. I thought that the plot background that we were given at the beginning was way too long and left the ending feeling rushed. Everything was slow, or moving at a comfortable pace, and then so much happened in a short amount of time that I was left reeling and confused, and not in the good way.

Overall, I just want to say that this book really disappointed me. I think that I let the hype get to me, which I usually don’t do, and I was left underwhelmed and confused as to why everyone thought this book was so new and fresh and amazing. To me, it seemed like every other good-but-not-great fantasy book that I’ve ever read. I enjoyed reading it, still. I thought that there were a lot of amusing parts and other scenes that kept my heart rate up. I do have the second book preordered because I think that this series has potential, I just wish that the things I discussed above had been more thought out. To me, this seemed like a second or third draft that still needed a lot of filling in.

**SPOILER TALK: Cardan**

I am going to be discussing Cardan for just a moment and there will be spoilers, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, I highly suggest coming back to this part of the review after you’ve finished the book! I just really need to rant/discuss Cardan for a second.

Okay, I just don’t understand why everyone loves Cardan so much. I’m a sucker for the bad-boy who can be a bit mean but turns into a nice guy trope. I lot of my favorite books are like that. But Cardan? I don’t see it. He’s mean, but he’s not just mean. He’s a bully, he’s abusive, and he’s (pardon my language) a huge dick. We got a little bit of an explanation to why he is the way he is: his brother beats him. I can sympathize with his struggles there, but his trauma is not an excuse for him to go and hurt other people (i.e. Jude). He literally lets his friends drug and embarrass her, almost kill her in a river, and so much more. Even though he explained that he never wanted her dead and would never let it go that far, he was still hurting her. And it’s not just a little teasing or mean comments here and there like a lot of other books with this trope have. No, he was actually bullying and being abusive to her. I don’t like him. I feel like maybe I would have liked him had the excuse for his actions not been that he was abused. It just gets my blood boiling that some people think that being abused is a suitable excuse for abusing others. It’s not. Because once Cardan’s brother was mean to Cardan, then Cardan was mean to Jude, she was mean to others, and it became a cycle.

Overall, my rant on Cardan is done. I don’t like him very much. He’s much more of a likable villain in my eyes than a possible love interest. His actions have completely turned me off of liking him and I don’t understand how some people don’t see that everything about him sends a toxic message. He has a long way to go before he is redeemed in my eyes, and I don’t even know if that will ever happen. Rant over.

Thanks so much for reading!

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