You’ve probably heard the term “black sheep” on some blogs or Goodreads – you know, that one person or one of the few who didn’t like the book/series that everyone else seems to praise on a weekly basis. We probably all have at least one book that fits this category, and that’s what this feature is for – to look at the popular books or series that I didn’t love in an attempt to figure out why. Why the name then, you ask (and if you didn’t, who cares – you’re going to hear it anyway!)? Well, I wanted to come up with a name that’s slightly different, plus I couldn’t find a cute picture of a sheep, and I have a black cat of my own, so why not?
Throne of Glass
Unlike my first post for this feature, I’ve only read the first book in the series, and I didn’t even finish it, so I’m going to have to rely a lot on provided summaries since I didn’t really get into the story enough to know what happens (although I did read a chapter-by-chapter snark from Reading With a Vengeance later, so I know what happens from that).
Anyway, Throne of Glass is a fantasy book/series about a girl who grew up to be one of the greatest assassins in her world. She starts off the first book in prison but gets the opportunity to leave it by going to the royal castle and competing in some kind of competition where she could become the royal assassin. There’s a love triangle going on between the prince and the head of the guard, and there’s plenty of magical shenanigans in addition to the competition.
So Why No Love?
Since fantasy isn’t always a great genre for me, I wasn’t too surprised that I didn’t like the book, but considered the large number of bloggers buzzing about it, it’s obvious that that isn’t my only reason:
1. Characters I Couldn’t Connect WithI know that I’m probably not going to connect with every major character after just a couple chapters, but I should at least be a little interested in their journey and story and such, right? I didn’t really about the main character or the two love interests, and unless characterization was going to become amazing in the next twenty or pages after I stopped reading, I don’t think I was going to connect with them anymore.
2. Telling, Not ShowingThis was a big pet peeve that I didn’t even realize I had: when the main character wasn’t referred to by her name or a pronoun, she was “the assassin.” Now, once or twice isn’t a big deal, but there comes a point when you’re just showing off the fact that the character has a special job that she’s good at. It sounds like this was something that continued, so I would have just gotten more and more frustrated with it as time went on. Plus, I had yet to really see that she (sorry, I need to look up her name – I keep using pronouns because I connected with her so little – and it’s a hard name to spell – that I can’t remember it!) had earned her title. I was told that she was a badass assassin, but at least in the first few chapters, I had yet to see that, and it sounded like that might have been the case throughout the whole book.
3. Needless Love TriangleI actually don’t have a huge problem with love triangles, but I did feel like the love triangle was pointless. The first love interest, the captain of the guard or something, seems like he’s the better-suited one, plus he was less annoying in the little that I saw him, so I have a feeling that there’s going to be a bunch of romantic drama for three books and then she’ll end up with him. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and obviously I don’t know for sure if that’s going to happen, but the love triangle just seemed so pointless to me that I couldn’t make myself care about it.
4. Weak Initial World BuildingI was also a bit confused about this world at the beginning. So, there’s magic, and it’s a fantasy kingdom thing, and the kingdom hates magic, but there’s probably still magic (which means the main character is probably magic – and that’s not a spoiler, because I didn’t read far enough to know for sure, so that’s just me assuming). Or something? Just thinking about it now, I don’t really remember much, and I feel like I should remember something.
5. The HypeAs was the case with the first Black Cat pick, the hype did not help this book. There were so many people raving about it, and at that point I don’t think I had read any bad reviews about it, and my roommate was even raving about it when she saw a picture of the cover on my screen (which, by the way, is not really cool – I don’t like it when people read over my shoulder, but I suppose that’s an issue for another day). So, there was quite a bit of pressure on this book, and that’s an issue when I’m already not a huge fan of fantasy. I think I need to find fantasy books on my own – when I listen to what everyone else is practically screaming about, then there’s too much pressure and I feel like I have to love it or it’s a failure (even if it’s a 4 star or something). So, the hype definitely didn’t help an underwhelming beginning.
So Why Bother?
The point of this new feature isn’t to turn the few who haven’t read and loved these books against them, despite how much it might seem like it. No, it’s to figure out – for myself and anyone else who happens to care – why these weren’t the books for me. You shouldn’t just take my word for it since there are plenty of people who love this book and series. These are just a few reviews of Throne of Glass that you should check out before deciding whether these are the books for you – or you can just jump into them yourself and see!
Fellow Dark-Hued Cats
There are some people who aren’t big fans of this book, though, which is nice – I hated feeling like the lone Black Cat with Cinder! These aren’t all negative reviews necessarily, just not rave reviews, which almost seems like the same thing since most people are very much in love with this book.
– Ashleigh Page @ The YA Kitten (a 3.5 star, so not too negative)
– Renae @ Respiring Thoughts (3 star – again, not too negative)
– Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity (this one is negative, but in a constructive way, like this post hopefully is!)
And I suggest checking out Reading With a Vengeance‘s Chapter Snark as well – it’s entertaining, but truly looks at some interesting problems in a constructive way as well.