Every year, my wife and I love looking at the Goodreads Choice Awards. We always find some great books to add to our overflowing TBR lists, and it’s fun to see if any of our favorites found their way onto the list. We have this ongoing joke from one year to the next: “Who will win Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction? Sarah J. Maas or Sarah J. Maas?”
I don’t mean any disrespect, I do read some young adult fantasy, and Maas has won every year since 2015. One could argue that YA fantasy is one of the most competitive markets in the book world right now. So, I thought that I should really give her a shot.
I truly appreciate the patience with which Maas cultivated her story. There was no rush to the prize. A Court of Thorns and Roses was a scenic trail with many unforeseen turns that eventually led to a satisfying conclusion. It takes some true skill to write a story this long – sixteen hours on Audible – while keeping the reader (or listener) involved. Maas has certainly mastered this.
In other ways I saw many familiar patterns, shades of other books, some older and some more recent. I think that these are part of the formula that makes this genre work. The typical YA audience appears to have certain expectations that they want or need in their fiction, but then again, I think it’s the same for any genre.
A Court of Thorns and Roses was a bit of an experiment for me. Am I a YA fan hidden inside the body of a mature man, or have I just found a connection with a few YA authors? As it turns out, it is the latter. I enjoyed my time spent with Maas’ characters, but if she is the best of the best in the genre, I’m good with the handful that I’ve come to love.