Why, yes, I’m okay. Why do you ask?
*muffed screaming in the background*
It’s not like ACoL made me the most emotional I have ever been since reading Crooked Kingdom, last November. It’s not like I wanted to scream and laugh and cry all at once as I tore through this marvelous book. It’s not like I was so attached to these characters, I wanted to bang my head against the wall.
Nope. None of that.
I do so very sincerely hope you caught my thinly-veiled sarcasm.
Alright, let’s talk in all honestly, shall we? Very few books leave me this wrecked. VERY few. And why? Because I’m picky. Too picky? Maybe. Probably. This being, of course, for the better, or for worse. Take your pick. (And no, that was NOT an intentional pun).
But when a book nails it all down? I cannot help but fall head-over-heels in love with it.
Right now, I seriously want nothing more than to flail and scream over the heart-stopping, soul-shattering parts of this emotional roller coaster of a book, but I will attempt to at least begin my review sounding as professional as possible, but beware: I shall gradually evolve into a shrieking mess by the end of this review. Make of this information what you will.
Alright, let’s get started.
One of the many aspects I adore about ACOL is that it picks up at a fluttering, almost hectic pace, keeps that sense of urgency afloat for the novel’s entirety, only slowing down enough to let the reader breathe at the flashbacks.
And speaking of, those flashbacks are my absolue favorite. I LOVE seeing my beloved characters in their old stabby childhood, and how they came to be where they are presently. I cannot connect to a character fully unless I see their past in one way or another.. and it felt so very extra-special to have those flashbacks in the finale. Even though most of them were PAINFUL. (I’m looking at you, Holland).
Plot-wise, this book is a bit different from its predecessors. It follows a quest-like structure: find the thing that does the thing to help the thing. And while I normally tire from this type of plot, I am honestly, more than anything, here for the characters. Whatever they want to do, I’m with them.
In this finale, we have new POVs to contend with. We’ve got Lenos, Emira (who might just be my favorite side-POV to read about), Maxim, Tieren, and Nasi. And as soon as the first non-main POV made its entrance, I was instantly worried. Because, quite simply, this is the final book. Meaning: I’m not here for anyone but my original cast. I cannot tell you how annoying it is to throw in random POVs in the finale (I’m looking at you, Maggie Stiefvater, because The Raven King had people I cared rien about..) but oddly enough.. I liked all the side POVs?? That has never happened with me before. But it did in this case, because each side character is a person. No one is mentioned in passing. If they have a POV, they’re fleshed out as much as possible.
I think it takes some serious talent to make me care about characters I don’t want to care about. Schwab is talented, so talented. Wow.
There’s nothing more interesting than tracking how an author’s writing style changes over the course of a series, or if it changes at all. And, being perhaps The-Pickiest-Reviewer-Ever-When-It-Comes-To-Writing-Style™, I had to spot the changes and highlight a billion quotes that strike me as different. And the verdict? V’s style, in this finale, is unique: the sentences are artistically choppier, grouped into almost-stanzas, and the abundant repetitions and use of parallelism gives Schwab’s writing style a poetic air. I LOVE poetic styles (.. it’s not like I mention Rutkoski in 78.89% of my reviews..) and in ACOL, as I was reading, I was stopped multiple times by gorgeous sentences.
I mean, really. Read this with me, if you please:
“Myths do not happen all at once.
They do not spring forth whole into the world. They form slowly, rolled between the hands of time until their edges smooth, until the saying of the story gives enough weight to the words – to the memories – to keep them rolling on their own.
Isn’t that beautiful?
Or this. Look at this:
“The sky was a crisp blue sheet, drawn tight behind the sun. It stretched, cloudless and bare, save for a single black-and-white bird that soared overhead. As it crossed into the sphere of light, the bird became a flock, shattering like a prism when it meets the sun.
This is exactly what I mean when I say it’s my kind of style. Meaning: if every book I ever read or will read is written with V. E. Schwab’s style, I honestly could not be happier.
And now let’s hit the topic I’ve been wanting to talk about since forever: My beloved characters. In list form. Because only then will I make actual sense.
Remember my warning about getting shrieky and incoherent? Well, if you want to run, now’s the time.
[MILD SPOILERS MAY FOLLOW, NO MAJOR, so if you haven’t read the book yet.. run for your life, I tell you.]
•Lila: DID YOU OR DID YOU NOT SEE HOW MUCH SHE DEVELOPED?! Lila is perhaps the most changed, if you ask me. She didn’t want to be grounded in one place, yet she had to. She didn’t want to trust or care, yet she did. She even put aside the reckless thrill-seeking part of her aside and attempted to think things out logically, while not losing any of her stabby sassy self in the process. Lila is AWESOME, I tell you. She is my actual role model. (Okay, okay, I realize how concerning that sounds, and I apologize. Well, not really. But you get the gist of what I’m saying, yes? I hope so, anyway].
•Holland: Uhm.. I did not expect to care about him this much?? And I’m still not sure what made me love him so.. But I DO?? What is this. What have I become. And his flashbacks were HEARTBREAKING.. and when he had those nightmares, all I wanted to do was give him a hug (and probably get stabbed in the process, but whatever). And the way Kell tried to protect him? And how he refused to speak to anyone but Kell? UGH, WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME. My eyes might be leaking. Miiight be.
•Rhy: He went through so so much, this little adorable idiot. My heart. It breaks. Rhy grows. He takes responsibility. He stays his charming self. And yet, he’s different. A bit darker. But believably so. And on a happier note: I feel like Rhy and I would be best friends. He just has this quality that strikes me as.. familiar, for lack of better words. He’s easy to get along with.
WHY CAN’T I MEET THEM ALL. AND JOIN THEIR SQUAD. WHY. WHY.
•Alucard: Please don’t smack me with ACoL itself (I assume 600+ pages will hurt if dumped upon my skull), but.. Alucard is the one character I don’t really care for??
*ducks flying tomatoes*
I mean, I like him, I do, but me and Alucard just aren’t clicking. Maybe its because I have something against characters introduced mid-series?? Yes, probably. (If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t like Nikolai Lantsov that much either??)
*ducks more tomatoes*
Hey, don’t look at me that way! Nikolai was introduced mid-series, too. Let’s put it this way, shall we? I like Alucard as much as I like Nikolai. Which is to say: *whispers* not that much.
Please don’t kill me.
•Hastra: I don’t care if he’s not a main character, HE NEEDS HIS OWN BULLET POINT. Because Hastra is actually my little baby. I’ve adopted him. He just wants to hang out with the cool kids, and he wants Kell’s approval, and he SANG TO AN EGG TO MAKE THE BABY BIRD HATCH HAPPY.. I have a lot of feelings, I tell you. A LOT.
And now. There’s one more person I have to talk about. One more.
And that would be my adorable shy frowning redhead magician. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s talk about my one true love: Kell Maresh.
•Kell. KELL. KEEELLLLLL. I have never loved a character as much as I love my little Kell. NEVER. Because Kell is sweet and adorable and shy and loyal and cruel when he wants to and has the sassiest comeback waiting if someone annoys him.. HE’S PERFECT, I tell you. Perfect.
His interactions with everyone evoked a particular feeling in me:
With his parents, I wanted to cry.
With Rhy, it melted my heart.
With Alucard, the banter gave me LIFE.
With Lila, their romance was short-and-sweet.
With Holland, I wanted them to be best friends.
And Part 1, chapter 3?? [go check and see what I’m talking about. I’ll wait] IT BROKE MY HEART. No one does this to precious Kell. No one. That was so painful to read, I wanted to scream in the middle of the airport [Yes, I binge-read ACoL on the plane, and annoyed everyone next to me by keeping my overhead-light-thingy on to read. Because why sleep when you can be TORTURED VIA A BOOK?? <– wise words to live by, courtesy of me.]
Aaand I think I’ll stop here. This review is long, I know.
But I’ll forever be thinking about and quoting and wanting to reread this masterpiece of a series. It’s everything I look for, everything I want, with some of the best characters and concept and world-building I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.
I have nothing more to say, so I’ll leave it at that.