I always find that it is much harder to review a book you love than a book you hate. If I could pick up a book that made me angry, that I despised, it would be no challenge for me to mark all the pages that pissed me off and list them all out in a blog post, each with at least a paragraph of an explanation.
But, finishing this book, I found that the only thoughts I was capable of were basically incoherent babbling and gushing. However, I've calmed down a bit by now and feel I can accurately describe my thoughts on this book with just a little bit of incoherent babbling and gushing.
A common complaint I heard, from all my friends, and all the other reviewers, and anyone who has ever read this book in the history of this book's existence (which is a fair amount, despite the fact that it hasn't even been three years), is the fact that the entire book, the love triangle especially, is almost incriminatingly frustrating. Allow me to argue against that complaint.
The fact that it frustrates you so strongly, and not because of low quality, would actually be a good identifier of its hypothetical awesomeness. There's probably nothing I love more about this series than how much it messes with its readers. Think about it: there's the constant risk of America losing either of the people she has a romantic interest in, the entire country's system of government is in danger, and shaky at best, and there are at least five kinds of tension in this book that I could name right now that possess the quality of being so thick that it beats Chicago deep-dish not-pizza.
I'm frustrated and stressed out because I care deeply about these characters and how they end up. That's what makes this book a book rather than two sentences of content. Yeah, it's sort of an overused attempt at expansion, but if America made up her mind right away, then this book wouldn't have even happened, and the tension would be thinner than what REAL pizza is actually supposed to be.
One other thing I really appreciated other than the emotional roller coaster was the use of dramatic irony. (Or reverse-dramatic irony?) Near the end of the book, I knew some shit was going on, but reading a story from the protagonist's perspective and not being able to know what the hell her diabolical mind was plotting really, really messed with me. Half of my mind was theorizing that she'd actually turn out to be a serial killer, and the other half was wondering about the infinite amount of hours Kiera Cass had to spend just getting those few, anticipatory paragraphs just right.
Nicely done, dude.
I also haven't revealed on this blog that I am moderately romance-repulsed, so there were numerous times I had to put this book down because I just...couldn't. Some part of me wished for more politics and psychological rebellion and, you know, plain old violence, but I knew what I was getting into, and, there were moments where it wasn't all that overpowering, if I didn't concentrate too hard.
As I've expressed to a few of my friends, the love triangle still didn't manage to make me care, honestly. I'm much more in favor of America pulling more...well...Americas than I am of her ending up with either of the presented love interests. I don't hate them, I just don't care.
That being said, the emotional moments were very well-crafted. The scene near the end felt like a perfect crescendo, combining and finalizing all the feelings that were swelling up like violins throughout the entire novel. For about two hundred pages, Cass has been teasing us with little twinges of feelings (on the romantic front), and they all come together perfectly.
But the best thing by far about this novel was America's journey from quiet disagreement with the current monarchy to a full-blown revolution. I can't criticize it at all. As the pages turn, so does a compelling political narrative. I loved the increments in which secrets were unveiled. They were placed really well among all the fluff and romance.
Also, despite the fact that all these crazy things America did throughout the novel were kind of messy and not well-thought out, to say the least, they're like the initial struggles. I feel as if it's kind of symbolic, like, someone trying to change things that they feel passionately about will struggle along for a while, taking impulsive actions, then slowly moving towards changing things at a level that won't be so abrupt.
(AS A MEMBER OF GOVERNMENT, PERHAPS. COUGH. COUGH. COUGH.)
Wow. That was one wild ride.