A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy- Sarah J Maas.
Ever read a book series that truly stood out for being the voice of those not heard? Strangely enough for me, this book series was ACOTAR by Sarah J. Maas. Whilst aware of the controversy surrounding Maas and her series of books, I became immersed in ACOTAR. I admit that Maas isn’t the most expert of writers and at times her metaphors and similes could be downright uncomfortable to read. (Every time someone bares their teeth you have to take a drink, you’ll be drunk in no time). Maas does address issues within society such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse towards men, women who are sexual predators and coercive even though society laughs them off and the true effects of someone who believes that what they are doing is right but is entirely abusive.
Throughout ACOTAR most of the male characters have faced some kind of abuse in varying forms. Rhysand at the hand of Amarantha, Azriel at the hands of his own kin and Lucien by his own brother and then sexually assaulted by Ianthe.
Within today’s society, although progress is beginning to be made, any man who comes forth about any form of abuse is often disbelieved or is told that it’s not possible for men to be raped (it is). Maas creates characters are damaged and healing from the abuse they suffered and continue to suffer in some ways. Rhys’s treatment after ACOTAR and in the subsequent books ACOMAF and ACOWAR, where they mutter ‘whore’ or downright disbelieve that he was abused at Amarantha’s hand is exceedingly powerful as it’s near enough an accurate depiction of what men suffer today when they come forth about abuse.
Although, there are some issues with Maas’s writing and stories one cannot disprove that this is something that needs to be brought into the public eye. We are finally seeing the truth of what Amber Heard did to Johnny Depp and thankfully most of society is in uproar over his treatment and have subsequently turned on Heard. Yet there are those questioning why he stayed with her? Could he not have stood up to her?
Maas addresses these questions by showing that through manipulation and emotional coercion, that women can also abuse men. Novels have always been a powerful tool and I was grateful to read a story where although filled with gallant heroes, they also had their own trauma.
Not to say Maas got it perfect, this is still a fantasy story mostly focused on a Beauty and the Beast concept rather than focused on bringing light and understanding to male suffering. The ability however, to include this aspect is one that I fully appreciated and hope is embraced but other authors within YA to encourage understanding and slowly erode away prejudice.