I'm a bit on the fence about this book. On one hand, I enjoyed the fairie world, the unique characters, and the action. On the other hand, I detest bullies, I hate that violence was the go-to for so many of the characters, and it seemed to take a long time for anything meaningful to happen. For a book that was less than 400 pages, the plot plodded along at a snail's pace.
Jude is one of those characters that I can see many young girls enjoying because she was not romance driven, she was strong-willed, and she was smart and cunning. My biggest problem with Jude, though, is that she encounters some very adult things (not trying to spoil anything but she does something that has caused many adults to have intense PTSD episodes), but she never seems affected by them. She also never is in trouble for her actions, nor does she face any real consequences for her deeds. Does Fairie not have a judicial court or laws or anything? Is there no law that one breaks and faces retribution for their actions? Also, why would you not have your character work through the ramifications of these choices? No nightmares, or dread, or fear, or anything. She just does this horrible thing, and then barely acknowledges it, and then when she tells Prince Carden what she did, nothing happens. I don't get that.
Speaking of Carden, hated him. He was awful. I HATE HATE HATE bullies. He had no reason to bully her (not that having a reason would improve bullying), but when he explains his limp reason, Jude's like, ok. REALLY?? He tried to let fairie creatures murder you, but no biggie, he's a good kisser (Sorry if that's a spoiler). Why is his whole character aloof hot, bullying. At least characters like Will Herondale (from Clockwork Prince) had a legitimate reason to keep people at arm's length, but Carden is just a bully. That is his character. Even when we see what his brother was like, and how he treated Carden, that did not change his character. There was no growth. I don't care about his guy. I don't want him as the love interest. but the other love interest was just as awful.
Here is a tip for writers, if your love interests are going to be abusers, don't make them the love interests. Make the female characters say, I'm not choosing you if you are going to be abusive. Make the love interests learn from their mistakes, make them change, or let the female lead say, goodbye abusive jerk, I am better off alone than with you. Being a good kisser does not make up for years of torment.
Was the book all bad? No. The older sister Vivi was awesome, I wish we had a book about her. The action was well paced when it did happen. Jude was a refreshing change of YA heroine who was not clumsy but also the most talented person ever. She had faults, she was boring on a grey character, and she tried to improve. I think she still has a way to go to be a more rounded character, but her character is not driven by romance which is a nice change of pace in the YA world. I can see why this book is very popular, but I do wish we could forgo the hot bully love interest, especially when young adults are reading these books and seeing these relationships. Let's not encourage people to get into an abusive relationship because someone is hot and good at kissing.