Sarah J Maas' A Court of Frost and Starlight came out 1 May. The general feeling from her fans was a sense of disappointment — the book was simply okay.
I've discussed before the overall problems with SJM's writing — character development, writing style and plot — so I won't be discussing that now. Here, I'm writing about where specifically I think SJM went wrong with ACOFAS.
It's like a DVD's deleted scenes you never watched
Filling in the gap between A Court of Wings and Ruin and future novels in the series, ACOFAS felt like you were watching the deleted scenes on a DVD — sure, it may have been interesting, but if you didn't watch it, it wouldn't matter. Perhaps the only thing which mattered was Nessa and Cassian's relationship, but that could have easily been told in the next book — in fact, that's what it seems will be the focus for the next book (as well as the Elaine/Lucian/Azreil love triangle). Overall, the story lacked consequence — and with that, impact.
Feyre's journey has reached it logical conclusion
Feyre went through hell and back in the first trilogy. She's made anew now — physically and mentally. While ACOFAS gave Feyre some emotional healing, there wasn't much room for Feyre to grow — she's happy with Rhys, a High Lady, mastered her powers and beloved by all — how else can her character grow? The only way would be to tear Feyre down again, and build her back up — which would be a massive betrayal to the fans.
Fan service galore
Without a strong plot driving the book forward, ACOFAS relied on fan service to placate the audience. It is as if someone polled Tumblr users and asked them what they wanted to see — so we get sex scenes, shopping scenes, christmas scenes, more sex scenes and snowball fights between battle-hardened warriors. Sure, there are some sad moments, but these are sprinkled between the "Tumblr" moments. It reads like it belongs on fanfiction.net
Please put some clothes on
In lieu of character development, ACOFAS presents a smorgasbord of sex scenes — the book reads like an awkward late-teen phase as Feyre and Rhys stumble around grabbing at each other at every opportunity. The characters and constantly thinking about sex, wanting sex, or having mind-blowing, amazing, fantastic sex — it's really nothing we haven't read about before, giving us no character development. Of course, most of this is fan service; but please, this is just sloppy writing!
Struggling to transition into a new format
The book turing from a single perspective novel to a multipul perspective novel. Not only is SJM's writing finesse not up to standard to write believable males (c'mon the inner circle males having a snowball fight?), she struggles to juggle the demands of multipul character perspectives. This new format fails to launch, reading like a girl writing about boys, rather than a writer letting their characters tell their tale.
Here is what ACOFAS should have been
tying up loose ends from ACOWAR (the bryaxis)
setting up the next main villain for the new series
instead of shopping and christmas, showing the true effects of the Prythian war.
... but this is what makes me sad
I hate to say it, but SJM just isn't a good writer — sure, she's sold a lot of books, made a lot of money, become a well-known author and captured the hearts of teen girls; but that doesn't make someone a good writer. I really wish that the ACOTAR series was good; sometimes, reading bad fiction can be worse than reading no fiction at all. Poorly-written bestsellers lower the standards of subsequent published fiction; it creates demand for fan-service books, rather than narratives crafted with literary perfection in mind. I'm not saying we should all read Hemingway and be done with it — read the likes of JK Rowling, CS Lewis, Diana Wynne Jones, and Brian Jacques to see well-written young adult fiction. I want more JK Rowlings and less Sarah J Maases.