UNPOPULAR OPINION ALERT!
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black was one of my most anticipated reads for 2018, and I’m starting to think I shouldn’t get excited over hyped books because during 2017 and now 2018 every hyped book that I was looking forward to reading has been a disappointment. Because of the hype, I’m sure there are a thousand reviews of this book circling the Internet so I’m not sure if my opinion will matter. But I want to write this review because there are so many high praises for this book and I just don’t get it.
When Jude was seven, her parents were murdered and she and her sisters were whisked away to the High Court of Faeries. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong, but many fey despise humans and even go out of their way to torment them. When an opportunity arises for Jude to win a place at the Court, she jumps at the chance, risking everything—including herself.
Here’s the thing with this book. I definitely can see why people hyped the book, maybe even enjoyed it: strong female character, complicated bad boy prince, magic and faeries, dastardly plots and bloody family alliances. I get why people are drawn to the story, but after reading, I don’t understand why so many people are giving it 4- or 5-stars.
For me, the book was good, but it wasn’t that good. The writing is decent. Holly Black has wonderful descriptions and she did a great job building the world. But the events of the book are boring and frankly unmemorable. I spent the first 300 pages bored because nothing exciting happened. Sure, things happen but a lot of the “twists” were predictable or when they were surprises, they weren’t that shocking. My reaction was more like “Oh, okay, this is where that is going.”
In addition, I didn’t like any of the main characters. I have a problem, it seems, with morally gray characters—I just don’t understand them. They’re supposed to be more relatable and realistic because people are complicated and characters should be also. But most of the time, they’re too complicated or too back and forth and I just don’t understand them or where they are coming from. Jude was like this. And she made a lot of stupid decisions that irritated me to no end. She was also whiny about everything.
Then there’s Cardan. The bad boy faerie prince. He was so predictable and annoying. I’m so tired of characters like him. I’m tired of bad boys that are cruel or bad boys that are actually hiding something—feelings, their “true” heart, their past. Just stop. It’s overdone. Where are my sweet, squishy boys that would rather pick flowers than fights? There are so many other characters too—so many that I could barely keep track of who was who. And most of them are just unmemorable. There were a few I liked though, such as Jude’s sister Vivienne and their adopted mother Oriana. Why couldn’t the story have been about them instead?
The thing about the book that makes me the angriest are the last fifty pages. The last fifty pages were good. The ending made me want the next book, even though there were several things I saw coming. But it took so long to get to the point that I finished the book and I was just angry. I understand this is a trilogy and a new world and things have to be established, but so much dragged on that didn’t even matter once those last fifty pages started.
So yeah, unpopular opinion of the year, apparently. I know there are so many people who loved this book, and I wish I did. There were so many problems with it and I expected so much more.