Review of The War of Two Queens (Blood and Ash #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Blood and Ash series:
From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash #1): ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire (Blood and Ash #2): ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The Crown of Gilded Bones (Blood and Ash #3): ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Flesh and Fire series:
A Shadow in the Ember (Flesh and Fire #1): ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Thank you to Blue Box Press and Social Butterfly PR for sending me an early copy, in exchange for an honest review.
From the desperation of golden crowns…
Casteel Da’Neer knows all too well that very few are as cunning or vicious as the Blood Queen, but no one, not even him, could’ve prepared for the staggering revelations. The magnitude of what the Blood Queen has done is almost unthinkable.
And born of mortal flesh…
Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for. With the strength of the Primal of Life’s guards behind her, and the support of the wolven, Poppy must convince the Atlantian generals to make war her way—because there can be no retreat this time. Not if she has any hope of building a future where both kingdoms can reside in peace.
A great primal power rises…
Together, Poppy and Casteel must embrace traditions old and new to safeguard those they hold dear—to protect those who cannot defend themselves. But war is only the beginning. Ancient primal powers have already stirred, revealing the horror of what began eons ago. To end what the Blood Queen has begun, Poppy might have to become what she has been prophesied to be—what she fears the most.
As the Harbinger of Death and Destruction.
I’m going to split this review into three parts. The first part will be spoiler free and touch upon the story overall and aspects I enjoyed and those I feel could be improved (there may be a couple of spoiler tags here and there, but you don’t need to click them to get the gist of what I am talking about). The second part will include spoilers and will address the elephant in the room that led to the inundation of negative early reviews. The third part (let’s call it “bonus content” 😅) will also include spoilers and is just my thoughts on some of the stuff I’ve seen going around since release in regard to reactions to TWOTQ and stuff I’d like to point out.
I do want to start the review by saying a couple of things first.
Based solely out of personal enjoyment, I loved TWOTQ and that is why I have rated it five stars. However, I do have several critiques that align in some ways with folks who didn’t enjoy the book. That said, I felt like the story went in the direction I have been anticipating it would go, and it has me even more excited for A Light in the Flame and the eventual sequel to this book. Some of my theories were confirmed, and I felt the book was especially an improvement on TCOGB (which is my least favorite of the series). Further down, before I get into the spoilery part of the review, I’m going to link to two other spoilery reviews (with opposing views) that I think are worth a read and very thoughtful.
Secondly, I have always been Team Don’t Care Either Way on the Joining. As someone who purposefully seeks out books with ménage and poly relationships because I feel represented in them, I was excited at the possibility of it happening when it was first brought up in AKOFAF. But beyond that, had no preference nor skin in the game as to whether it happened or not (I just want Kieran to be happy, okay?? 😅). So my enjoyment of the book has zero to do with where I stood on the Joining prior to going into it (or perhaps it did, because I didn’t care whether it happened or not).
Third, I read an ARC and finished it a few days before TWOTQ released. I knew the moment I finished that this would be a polarizing book and mentioned that to a couple of other ARC readers. That said, I had zero spoilers going into the book (though I did do a spicy word search when I got the book, because a girls got to know what she can expect 😏), and I feel like this was the biggest benefit to my own reading experience (re: no spoilers). I also saw a few folks dismissing my thoughts around the book simply because I was an ARC reader and want to make clear: I have read a number of ARCs that I flat out disliked (and negatively reviewed) and receiving an ARC has zero weight on whether I enjoy a book (in fact, my favorite reviews to write are negative ones). I’ve been reviewing ARCs for almost five years now and have learned enough about my reading preferences that I simply won’t request or agree to read an ARC if I feel like I won’t enjoy the book. There are far too many books out there to read, for me to waste my time on something I won’t enjoy. I would have been reading and reviewing TWOTQ whether I received an ARC or not.
I mention these last two things only because I’ve seen folks claim the only people who liked this book are pro-Joining people and the “JLA stans” and can tell you I’m neither—though I have enjoyed most of Jennifer’s books that I’ve read and this one is no exception.
Finally, you should absolutely make sure you’ve read A Shadow in the Ember before reading The War of Two Queens. My recommended reading order is to read it after The Crown of Gilded Bones, but before this book. It is not simply a prequel story set in the same world—the events in that book are key to the plot of this one.
Spoiler free part:
Overall, TWOTQ is up near AKOFAF as my favorite book in the series. I loved AKOFAF because it was romance and tension heavy. It was like candy for my fantasy romance loving soul. On the other hand, I loved TWOTQ because I felt the romance versus action sides of the plot were fairly balanced—which feels like a natural progression of where the plot should be at this point. Remember in TCOGB, when it seems as though Poppy and Cas are in their room at Jasper’s house for what is like half the book?? Okay, it isn’t half, but it is definitely around a quarter of the book. That jarred me so much while reading TCOGB, it felt like work to push through those chapters, because the conversations they were having were being continually rehashed over and over again. That said, the pacing in TWOTQ is by far an improvement upon TCOGB and any repetition felt natural and necessary to that point in the story. The book had solid momentum and I always had a good sense of what the next step would be for the characters and story.
One of my favorite aspects of TWOTQ is the way it ties into ASITE (as I said, you need to read ASITE first!), and I was internally screaming when several of my theories on how the series tie together were confirmed. When I reviewed ASITE I was told I was wrong on my interpretation of how I thought the stories would tie together—and the petty side of my soul definitely did the “Disaster Girl” meme face when it turned out I was right. 🙊🌝 If anything, those developments blew my mind, and I’m even more excited to read A Light in the Flame now, to see just what the hell happened to bring us to this point. (Also, *whispers* Nyktos > Casteel … don’t @ me)
Next, can we just take a moment—or five—to appreciate Reaver and his apple eating attire? Do we have fan art of this yet? My inbox is open, just saying … thirst activated. (Although he’s little Reaver Butt in ASITE, which makes that weird, so maybe deactivated lol) I *loved* Reaver’s character in this though. I mean, I suspected I would, but he played a very present role throughout the story, which pleasantly surprised me! Plus, the humor between him and Kieran gave me life. (And hey, I’d still be down for Reaver/Kieran …) Reaver is the disaster child this series needed, and we deserved.
That said, Kieran has always been my favorite in this series (sorry Reaver, get in line), and my heart was singing every moment he was present in this book. I love the way his relationship with Poppy grew and seeing him singled out and given more focus in this installment is something I’ve been hoping we would get for awhile. We definitely could have gotten more, too. I was really touched by the way he and Poppy bonded over their shared grief while Cas was imprisoned, and it only served to show (IMO) just how much Cas (and his separation from them) means to both of them. My love for Kieran may cloud my judgment on some scenarios in the book, and I know others may have different feelings on this, which I’ll address in the spoilery part of my review.
And TAWNY! I have missed Tawny so much. Without giving too much away, I was so glad to see her back in the story again. I have a Poppy level amount of questions when it comes to Tawny (I definitely think there is some stuff going on there and we’re going to be in for a surprise in future books) and am excited to see where her story goes.
Also: Malik! Malik! Malik! Okay, I did not expect to like Malik as much as I did, especially after TCOGB. He was one of the most compelling characters in this for me, and I’m so glad we finally got to spend some time around him. Especially after what happened with Ian in the last book. Also, seeing him interact with Cas and Kieran was intriguing, as this was a relationship we’d only ever been told about and had never seen. Considering his situation was a catalyst for so much of this story, I felt like a number of things came full circle with his storyline.
I connected with Millie’s unpredictable personality so much and can’t wait to learn more about her. In her IG live last week, JLA mentioned she has plans for a book about Millie and I internally screamed when I got that news, because she fascinates me. I loved the scene between her and Cas while he’s imprisoned. I definitely related to Cas’s WTF face.
Also, side note: Delano? Emil? Niall? I was STRESSED. And then I was not. Whew.
Oh, and am I the only one getting some daddy energy from Valyn? And not just because he’s Casteel and Malik’s father. Not that kind of daddy. 🤣
There are a few things I was meh about in this, and some of that is spoilery, so it’ll be included in that part, but I do think its fair to point out that Casteel’s character feels sidelined a bit at times. If you love PoppyCas, you might be disappointed in that alone (and that might compound thoughts on other parts of the book). However, I thought about this for a few days and realized … of course he feels like he’s sidelined. Casteel is not in a location to be present for the bulk of the action in this book, but he does have a regular recurring POV (which I loved, mind you), and we learn quite a bit in that POV. Was I disappointed that his character seemed sidelined? Sure. But looking at the structure of the story overall, it made sense. If there was an even balance between Poppy’s POV (where most of the action is occurring) and Casteel’s POV, I personally feel folks would see his chapters as dragging and slow (because it would create an imbalance in the pacing). In fact, lengthy separations are usually something I *hate* in a book (seriously, its an instant way to guarantee I’m going to want to nitpick every part of the book I dislike), but never once in this did I feel as though that separation was taking too long. I always felt as though Poppy, Kieran and crew were progressing toward rescuing Casteel and there’s enough of Casteel’s POV (and the dream moments) that I wasn’t missing him too much.
I also believe there could be more explicit and clearer indications of relationship dynamics, but nothing relationship-wise in TWOTQ surprised me and I fully believe the writing has been on the wall since AKOFAF (and even the later chapters of the first book). I’ll dive more into that in the spoilery parts of my review, but I think seeing the foreshadowing in earlier books depends upon how folks read specific lines of dialogue and actions that simply put, WERE vague. From an authorial standpoint, it’s a double-edged sword. There’s this desire to not make things TOO obvious in one’s writing, while also trying to sprinkle in enough foreshadowing that a future point of the plot doesn’t seem like it’s come out of the woodwork. I do think this has suffered a little from that—and clearer foreshadowing seems to be something a lot of folks (who disliked the events of this book) wish they’d received. I don’t think the plot would have suffered had these things been clearer.
Despite this, I am more than happy and satisfied with this book and where it takes the story. There has been so much focus on the romance aspect of this book (and the story overall), but there is far more to this book and series than that. TWOTQ was a great reminder that this is a fantasy series too. We get a good balance of fantasy action as well was more progress in the world building and progression of the larger Atlantia vs. Solis plot throughout TWOTQ.
Next time though, more battle scenes, please. It is titled The War of Two Queens, after all.
Please note that these are JUST my opinions and I believe it is completely valid to dislike a book and give your honest (and hopefully respectful) opinions on why you disliked it. If you have not read the book and have gotten to this point, I recommend reading it and deciding for yourself with as little influence of other’s opinions as possible.
The place to find the most genuine reviews, from people who have actually purchased (and likely read) the book, is on Audible. You cannot review a book on Audible unless you’ve actually purchased it (whereas, you can review without purchasing on the regular Amazon listing for the other formats). So, again, if you feel conflicted on what to believe and aren’t sure if you want to read the book, I recommend checking out those reviews.
There are two SPOILERY reviews on Goodreads that I recommend reading, that have opposing viewpoints, that I feel did a great breakdown of the series and this book. Giving thoughtful and comprehensive comments on what they liked and disliked about the book.
The first, Valkyrie’s five-star review, breaks down the foreshadowing they saw in earlier books, that point to the events in this book. This is all the foreshadowing I felt was a clear indication for what happens in TWOTQ.
The second, Yaz’s three-star review discusses their disappointment over the events of the book in a thoughtful and respectful way. Yaz has been a pillar in the FBAA fandom since the beginning, and they take the time to mention that while they enjoyed the book overall, it fell flat for them in a few areas, and why.
These are fantastic reviews if you don’t mind spoilers, and I highly recommend reading both of them!
Now, SPOILERS coming:
First of all, as someone who has actual experience with these relationships, the relationship between Poppy/Casteel/Kieran is not a poly relationship. Having any sort of group sex or even mutual sexual attraction between three people doesn’t make a poly relationship. Yes, it MIGHT eventually be, and this book leaves the door open for it to become one down the road. However, it is also touched upon that Kieran could find someone down the road too. (And JLA mentioned in her IG live that he probably will.) The story ends with the three deciding to figure it out for themselves, as it comes up, and I appreciate that they acknowledged this is something to think about and take their time with. Because it absolutely is.
I’ve also seen the relationship labeled as “reverse harem” and it is not that either. Unless you want to invite Reaver into the mix, you’re missing a third love interest for Poppy.
I can see how people might interpret these scenarios differently than I did, and I 100 percent believe that had that been my interpretation, I’d be upset too. I believe the best thing, in this situation, is to simply read the book and decide for yourself. However, I worry that the damage has already been done for some readers, due to spoilers and discussions spreading without regard to those who haven’t read it yet. Yes, I read an ARC, because I signed up for the bookstagram tour and was selected to receive one. Not everyone who signed up did. I think the biggest benefit for my own reading experience was being able to read it without spoilers, let alone knowing there was a lot of passionate discussion happening about the book, as there is now. My concern is that it’ll be difficult to separate how others have interpreted the story from one’s own reading experience and that leaves me pretty disappointed. Everyone reads at different speeds, has different obligations in their life that may prevent them from reading right away, may not have received their preferred format of the book yet, and may live somewhere that the book isn’t even accessible yet. Openly discussing spoilers without regard to those who haven’t read it yet is disrespectful of fellow readers and reads as a purposeful attempt to taint the experience for them. Saying folks should avoid social media around popular book releases like this, is a point to be made—but many folks have obligations and careers that require them to be on social media and potentially in book community spaces, so it’s not as easy as just taking a social media break for a couple of days.
There has been a lot of upset over the interactions between Poppy and Kieran while Casteel is imprisoned. Some have labeled it as emotional cheating. When I was reading, that never once crossed my mind. In fact, Casteel is relieved Poppy had Kieran to lean on, and that knowledge helped him get through everything he experienced while imprisoned. I read the relationship dynamic between Poppy and Kieran as two people bonding and grieving over loss together, and as JLA making a clear distinction that Poppy doesn’t see Kieran as a family member or just another wolven. She has a connection to him more than any other character, aside from Cas. For me, that helped pave the way for the Joining to be consensual between all parties, and for Poppy’s willingness to take things further more believable. I feel that if she had not brought up Poppy’s growing feelings toward Kieran folks would treat the Joining as “eww gross” because they have a “sibling” bond.
The remark Tawny makes about Kieran “acting like her husband” could be seen as a little out of left field, *however* consider the context here … Tawny doesn’t even know how Poppy’s husband acts around her (aside from her time around them in FBAA when Cas was concealing his identity) because she hasn’t been around. Nor does she know how Kieran normally acts around Poppy, because again, she hasn’t been around. Tawny herself is looking at Poppy’s relationship with Kieran and sees that they’re close and that it’s more than friendship but Tawny is also someone who isn’t familiar at allwith the Primal notam, nor wolven bonds. The only thing she can do is label it as something that’s beyond friendship, and that’s what she does, because that’s what she has knowledge of in her world. Recall when Poppy discovered all of this stuff herself, and all of the endless questions she had—that’s where Tawny is at in the story. She sees Kieran and Poppy are close, and knows it’s more than friendship, and puts the only label she can on it, because it’s what it looks like to her.
As far as the Joining goes, I never once assumed it wouldn’t be sexual if it ever came up. And I feel like there has been a ton of foreshadowing that it would be, even since the first book. Near the end of FBAA, there is a scene in which Kieran is talking to Poppy while she bathes. She brings up how Cas would feel about it and Kieran notes that Casteel would be “intrigued”. This is just one of the many instances I recall, that hinted at there being something between the three of them. And yes, the Joining was mentioned as potentially being not sexual, but if the intent was for it to NOT be sexual, why mention that it could be at all? In my opinion, simply making sexual Joinings a thing in the world, was clear indication that’s what would happen if the Joining ever occurred. Add to this the conversations and nods to voyeurism, Poppy’s distinct interest in parts of Willa’s diary that involve more than two people, Casteel and Poppy discussing the act of having more than one sexual partner, all of the sexual innuendos over sharing, and Kieran literally being the only person Casteel trusts around Poppy, and it again, felt like the writing was on the wall. In fact, I was surprised it took until book four for it to happen.
Are there going to be people who feel like their PoppyCas ship is being intruded on? Sure! It’s easy to get attached to fictional characters and build up parasocial relationships with them, and then feel upset when they do something unexpected. These feelings are natural and to be expected when you have ANY character people feel close to and strongly about. And again, whether their relationship is being intruded upon depends upon your own boundaries and expectations in relationships (some see emotional cheating, some don’t!). However, JLA ultimately has creative control over the story and the actions of her characters and doesn’t need readers to tell her how to “fix” her stories. Whether readers like it or not, this is what happened. Even more so, the characters we write take on a life of their own and do things even us authors don’t expect. That said, I don’t think that disappointment should be dismissed, as it’s a valid reaction to getting close to characters we’re meant to get close to. This, right here, is what fanfiction is for. I imagine there’s going to be some really good fanfiction as a result of this book, and that’s great! So forth and write, fix things if you think they should be fixed!
Finally, I’ve seen some people, who are defending the book, try to claim penetration never happens during the Joining and that therefore it is not sex. This is flat out incorrect on both points. One can have non-penetrative sex (and to say that one can’t is disrespectful to survivors of SA, as well as those who practice consensual non-penetrative sex). But moreover, the Joining scene literally depicts Poppy having penetrative sex with one of the men while stimulating the other with her hand, before then having penetrative sex with the one she was stimulating. It is not clear which is Kieran and which is Casteel in this scenario (though I feel it can be inferred based upon who was where prior to this part of the Joining). Personally, this is something that bothered me because aside from trying to really nail it into reader’s heads that the Joining’s magic can cause a lust filled haze, there was no point make the Joining so vague other than to (I presume) “let readers decide for themself.” This is not a quote of anything JLA has said about this book, but it is a plot device used fairly often (re: Verity) and this just wasn’t the situation for that because it only aided to confuse and divide readers. Be clear. Those of us who wish there was more representation of ménage (and poly) in popular books like this deserve to have these situations treated with clear acknowledgment, not a wink and a nod—which is how it reads.
I can see how people might interpret these scenarios differently than I did, and I 100 percent believe that had that been my interpretation, I’d be upset too. I believe the best thing, in this situation, is to simply read the book and decide for yourself. However, I worry that the damage has already been done for some readers, due to spoilers and discussions spreading without regard to those who haven’t read it yet. Yes, I read an ARC, because I signed up for the bookstagram tour and was selected to receive one. Not everyone who signed up did. I think the biggest benefit for my own reading experience was being able to read it without spoilers, let alone knowing there was a lot of passionate discussion happening about the book, as there is now. My concern is that it’ll be difficult to separate how others have interpreted the story from one’s own reading experience and that leaves me pretty disappointed. Everyone reads at different speeds, has different obligations in their life that may prevent them from reading right away, may not have received their preferred format of the book yet, and may live somewhere that the book isn’t even accessible yet. Openly discussing spoilers without regard to those who haven’t read it yet is lazy and disrespectful of fellow readers, and reads as a purposeful attempt to taint the experience for them. Saying folks should avoid social media around popular book releases like this, is a point to be made—but many folks have obligations and careers that require them to be on social media and potentially in book community spaces, so it’s not as easy as just taking a social media break for a couple of days.
Now, I want to touch upon some of what I’ve seen said by other readers recently, in reaction to the book. I guess we’ll call this “bonus content”:
If you want to defend the actions I bring up here, it might best for you to move on, because we clearly have different standards of what is acceptable, and hashing it out in the comments likely isn’t going to change the other’s mind. Simply put, be respectful.
I noticed, early on, that a lot of the unnecessarily nasty and excessive hate toward this book was coming from a specific subsection of the fandom, and that subsection overlapped quite a bit with a subsection of another fandom that has also been fairly … loud … lately (and even spoiled another big release recently). When stories (whether they be books, films, tv series, manga, etc.) go viral—as FBAA has—they reach a point of there being a blurring of the lines between fan (in this case, reader) and author. This is something discussed and studied quite a bit in fandom and fanfiction studies (Yes, this is a real thing, and it is as fascinating as it sounds! I took a college course on it and recommend looking into it!)—where stories reach a point of fandom ownership over the original work, typically through fan fiction and fan art. However, no matter the growth of the fandom and the fanon fans create, the author still has creative control over the series, and I see a lot of folks upset because JLA asserted that control and did something a subsection of the fandom didn’t like/expect. It is one thing to dislike something and express that dislike, it is a totally different beast to make it a sport amongst your friends to drag another person and their work down simply because you didn’t like it. Honestly, I fear the day the next ACOTAR book releases and we get answers to who Azriel does/doesn’t end up with (if anyone), because I think this is just foreshadowing for how dark the book community is going to get. But that’s beside the point …
The ageist, sexist, misogynistic, and polyphobic comments are unnecessary and reductive of the issues people actually have with the book. Not to mention blaming the events in the book on “fanservice” to “middle aged FB soccer moms” falls into the trap of the patriarchal mindset that women lose their worth once they reach a certain age, have children, and/or are out of their childbearing years. Women don’t cease to exist once they reach a certain age, nor are they a monolith. There’s been a wide discussion lately of how, for decades, cisgendered men have used this line of thinking to maintain the status quo in patriarchal society. Every time I see this, I immediately get dude-bro vibes from the author. I have children, I am in my early thirties, and I am infinitely happier now than I ever was in my teens or twenties. Infinitely. And many women my age or older have expressed similar feelings, and even surprise over those feelings, because we’ve been conditioned as a society to believe it’s all downhill once you reach a certain age. It’s not. In fact, it’s pretty great. You’ll see.
Saying “real men don’t share” or even “possessive men don’t share” is misogynistic and polyphobic (I used queerphobic to refer to this last week, and I know some folks don’t consider poly to fall under the queer umbrella [I do, and it has historically been closely tied to queer lives and circles], so to eliminate that discussion I’m using more specificity, which doesn’t make these comments any better or excusable). Furthermore, it reduces Poppy to an object, which is something Cas has always tried to avoid. This series has made a point of showing that Casteel supports and even encourages Poppy’s autonomy, curiosity, and independence. When you are “sharing” something with another, that implies some degree of ownership over what’s being shared. Casteel has never acted as if he “owns” Poppy and it’s disappointing to see readers use this kind of language to refer to their relationship, because it’s the furthest from the dynamic Poppy and Casteel have, as you can get.
I have come across several reviews referring to the relationship between Poppy/Casteel/Kieran as poly or a “throuple” (again, having a threesome doesn’t make it poly and I don’t believe it’s at that point, but it could get there in future books, who knows) in one sentence while going on to label it as “dirty”, “a betrayal” and “cheating” in the next sentence. Again, this is polyphobic and dismisses the joyful and loving relationships between people who are in relationships with more than two people. It certainly reads as though these folks can’t see anything other than a monogamous relationship as healthy (I don’t think that’s the case, but it reads that way). If you prefer monogamy in your life, that’s your preference! But don’t reduce or further marginalize those of us who don’t share that preference.
Saying Poppy is a “Mary Sue” is sexist. Full stop. Unless you’re calling every single “overpowered” (their words, not mine) male character a “Gary Stu” (e.g. Luke Skywalker, Captain Kirk, Batman all fit into the Gary Stu/Mary Sue definition) you’re placing a double standard upon woman characters and not applying it to similar male characters. Just search both terms and notice the inundation of woman-focused articles you’ll come across, and how *if* a male character is ever mentioned, they’re typically from a franchise with a mostly woman audience (another way of disparaging characters made for woman audiences). You can critique her abilities and how convenient they are to have at certain moments (you know when I’m talking about), but let’s draw the line at referring to her with sexist and denigrating language.
Some of the “emotional cheating” comments (please note, some, not all) read as “women and men can’t be friends without being attracted to each other” and that’s not okay either. We all have different expectations and boundaries in relationships and I can *absolutely* see how—depending upon one’s expectations and boundaries—the dynamic between Poppy and Kieran could be read as emotional cheating, and I don’t think it’s okay to dismiss those feelings if someone has them (because they inherently involve hurt for the characters). But again, some of these comments toe the line of insecurity over friendships between members of different sexes (or rather, compatible sexualities). I think it’s important to also note that we are applying our real-life standards and societal rules/expectations on a fantasy world, when I don’t think these dynamics have been explored enough for readers to infer what is “right” or “wrong” in this world.
People saying there has been no threatening behavior toward JLA are wrong. I have seen multiple comments on Twitter and in reviews, of people saying things like “I’m coming for you” or “when I get my hands on you”, amongst other veiled threats. I understand these folks are more than likely joking and not serious, but when you consider there is a collective of these comments being directed at JLA, it can be scary to realize multiple strangers are saying things like this about you. “I was joking” is the typical excuse for bullying and threatening behavior when it leads to actual harm, let’s keep reading fun and not go down that road.
And two things I want to mention about Kieran and Tawny’s characters:
I personally don’t feel Kieran has been fetishized as a POC character, simply because, if that were the case, I feel his race would be brought up and pointed out more (as an act of setting him apart from other characters and reminding readers that he is POC), which it rarely is (and let’s face it, consistent representation is an issue in these books). That said, I’m not the audience to be opining on this, nor do I have the perspective to be making judgments here, so I’ll just leave my comments with saying that I think this is an important discussion to have and point to consider and it shouldn’t be reduced because it absolutely does happen in the world.
Moreover, I adore Kieran and Tawny but the meanings for their names have rubbed me the wrong way since the first book, and I agree that this is something people should be aware of and question. The only way around this, I think, would be to explain in world why they were named as such by their parents, but this late into the story, I’m not sure that would suffice. Authors absolutely know the meaning of their characters names, and this has always given me bad vibes.
If you got this far, bless you and your favorite characters! I hope folks can keep the comments respectful, and as long as you’re not engaging in some of the behaviors I pointed out in this review, I believe all opinions and feelings on the book are valid and I certainly don’t mind at all if you disliked it! Again, please read Valkyrie and Yaz’s reviews, if you have a moment. Most of all, remember that most of us are here because we enjoy reading, maybe even love/loved these characters, and there is a person with real feelings, burdens, and lives beyond the internet on the other side of the screen. Be kind to yourselves, and others.
ABOUT JENNIFER L. ARMENTROUT
#1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. She spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, hanging out with her husband and her Border Jack Apollo. In early 2015, Jennifer was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a group of rare genetic disorders that involve a breakdown and death of cells in the retina, eventually resulting in loss of vision, among other complications. Due to this diagnosis, educating people on the varying degrees of blindness has become of passion of hers, right alongside writing, which she plans to do as long as she can.
Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Tor, HarperCollins Avon and William Morrow, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her Wicked Series has been optioned by PassionFlix. Jennifer has won numerous awards, including the 2013 Reviewers Choice Award for Wait for You, the 2015 Editor’s Pick for Fall With Me, and the 2014/2015 Moerser-Jugendbuch- Jury award for Obsidian. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA. Her adult romantic suspense novel TILL DEATH was an Amazon Editor’s Pick and iBook Book of the Month. Her young adult contemporary THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER is a 2017 RITA Award Winner in Young Adult Fiction. She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.
She is the owner of ApollyCon and The Origin Event, the successful annual events that features over a hundred bestselling authors in Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult Fiction, panels, parties, and more.
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