#bookreview ‘The Wicked King’ by Holly Black – (Spoilers and unpopular opinions)

This review contains spoilers!

I must be honest and say that I didn’t start reading this book with high expectations, even though I was excited to read it. Weird I know. I have the feeling that my opinions about this book will be very unpopular, because at the moment this book has 72% of 5 star ratings and only 4% of three on Goodreads, which is what I’m giving it – but bear in mind that these are my opinions, and you’re free to agree or disagree.

‘The Wicked King’ is a beautifully written book, I loved the world building and how the story started to develop in the beginning – but I think that within it’s beauty, it hides very dark and disturbing themes – themes that you might not even realize you’re reading about thanks to how beautifully this book is written.

In my point of view Jude and Cardan’s relationship in both ‘The Cruel Prince’ and ‘The Wicked King’ is very toxic, and a horrible representation for younger readers. I am a romance lover, but for the past few years I’ve stopped looking away and making excuses for books with topics and plot points, that I feel aren’t a good representation of what a relationship should be – specially for younger readers.

When I first read ‘The Cruel Prince’ I did like it and even gave it 5 stars, but afterwards I changed it to 4. After I thought and had discussions about it, I realized that Jude and Cardan’s romantic interest wasn’t right. From the beginning of the book I could see what was happening – their relationship was pretty much like a boy pulling a girls hair because he liked her. I really don’t think that this type of thing is acceptable anymore – specially after the #metoo movement. Some might think that I’m over-reacting and over-analyzing but I don’t care. I think that our society needs to grow and for that we need to stop having this types of representation for younger readers out there, specially in the YA genre.

Jude and Cardan carry on with this type of toxic relationship even further in the ‘The Wicked King’ and that’s why I’m giving this book a 3 star rating. In ‘The Cruel Prince’ Cardan bullies Jude to the point of nearly killing her and then it’s all okay because he has feelings for her all along? No! Not acceptable!

In the ‘The Wicked King’ Cardan doesn’t really do anything to Jude because he’s her puppet for pretty much most of the book, but we keep getting these hints of they having feelings for each other – Jude keeps thinking about him and gets jealous even! I don’t care that this is supposed to be a dark fantasy book or that someone bad can get redemption and change, but to me, I see it as a toxic ,if not a dangerous representation to give to younger readers, both male and female, because I can tell they the difference between fiction and reality! Not everyone can!

I know that many will think that my opinions are harsh, and that’s okay, but I don’t think that many will tell me that I’m completely wrong. This is a dark theme in-between the lines of this series and I don’t think that it’s something that we can ignore anymore.

Looking at the characters now; Jude’s character didn’t really developed much from where she was in ‘The Cruel Prince’. From the prologue we this quote from Madoc that I really loved ; “Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to” and it gets repeated multiple times throughout the book and she doesn’t listen – I don’t think she really understands what it means! Because she doesn’t act like it.

In ‘The Cruel Prince’ she kept saying that she was going to become worse than the faerie, and she does to a point, but as soon as she gets into power she sort of reverts back into who she was in the beginning. She trusts too easily and let’s others use her too much.

One thing I noticed is that if you compare the two books side by side, the same major plot points that happened in ‘The Cruel Prince’ happen in ‘The Wicked King’, it just sorta switch characters. Madoc one ups Jude, like she did him – Cardan tricks and betrays Jude, like she did him – Locke hurts Jude and her twin sister stills betrays her.

I though that Ghost’s betrayal was a really good twist, but we didn’t see much of him throughout the book, so he came out of nowhere. Balenkin’s death was pretty boring – he was a really exciting character and he got a pretty boring death – he only died so he could be the reason for Jude’s banishment.

Jude’s parents kept being mentioned in this book and that’s another thing that I wish was more developed. I felt that we could have learn more about them or else what’s the point of mentioning them so much? Missed opportunity or just setting up for the third book?

I did like the twist at the end even though I saw Garden’s betrayal coming – I just didn’t expect him to go that far. My version of the book had two extra scenes, one from the P.O.V. of Cardan and one from Madoc. I really liked reading those extra scenes and it made me wish that the book from different P.O.Vs and not from Jude’s.

The third book in this series is called ‘The Queen of Nothing’ and I don’t know if I’m going to be reading yet. I do want to see how the how the story ends but I don’t want to be even more disappointed.


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