I believe in magic. In evil sorceresses who deep down are really beautiful princesses.”

IMG_0477Crystal Storm is one of those books that I’m certain I’ve only read because I’ve already invested far too much time in the series to give up now. The book is by no means terrible or anything, but I just hate it so much. I don’t like or even care about any of the major characters anymore. I had to read the first book twice on account of the fact that it was extremely forgettable and for a while, I had entirely forgotten how bored I’d been while reading it the first time around.

With that said, though, this book works rather well as an audiobook. I’m positive that had I been reading the series rather than listening to the audiobooks, I would have stopped long before it got this bad. I recall only being impressed with these books once, a few books ago when Cleo managed to outwit everyone with the help of Jonas. And ultimately, the single character who has had the most development throughout the entire series is Jonas himself, whereas everyone else seems to have degraded little by little as the story progresses.

There will be mild spoilers beyond this point.

Crystal Storm is literally filled with annoyance after annoyance.

And to make matters worse, I cannot stand any of the characters anymore. Where many of them were likable and had enormous potential when the series began, by the time we get to Crystal Storm they’ve all been degraded to pointless, unrealistic, whiny caricatures of their original selves. Lucia has regularly made idiotic and childish decisions and not once has she shown any substantial growth as a character.  Cleo is unrealistic at best and just plain stupid at worst. And I don’t think it’s possible for me to hate Magnus more than I already do.

The relationship between Magnus and Cleo is unrealistic and disturbing in a number of ways, all ultimately culminating in the fact that Magnus is primarily responsible for the vast majority of her suffering. Barring the fact that it is near impossible for Cleo to have ever fallen in love with a man who killed the man she was in love with, Magnus has committed a great number of egregious acts against her such as assisting his father in killing her dad and destroying her kingdom, regularly becoming unreasonably furious with her, treating treats her poorly, and consistently showing how little he trusts her. This relationship makes no sense.

And the second this path was taken for them, the entire series lost a vast amount of credibility. And forgetting for a second how unlikely and unrealistic their love is, I just don’t understand why we can’t have a strong woman who outwits and overpowers her captors. There was so much potential for Cleo that I can’t help feeling deeply disturbed and disgusted at how she was reduced to such a pathetic sidekick for much of the past few books. Rhodes has failed Cleo in ways that are almost as egregious as the horrors that this girl has had to face.

Lastly, for characters headed down a ridiculous path, we have Jonas who seems well on his way to falling in love with the whiny all-powerful brat. I feel as though this path is very much implied and since I truly don’t see much hope for these books after Cleo and Magnus, I find it sad that Rhodes would destroy the only good character she has left by allowing him to fall for Lucia. I just…don’t get it. This series is riddled with unnecessary and stupid romances, we really don’t need another one.

As for the plot, I’ve completely lost interest. I didn’t care in the slightest when Lucia’s prophesy nearly came true. I didn’t care at the end where everyone nearly died, nor did I care when the plot twist arrived. On the one hand, a part of me felt a small twinge of pity for Nic right then, but that was literally the extent of my emotional reaction. It all just seems so ridiculous? The kindreds mean so little to me that I very nearly forgot about them in the time it took me to get around to reading this book after I had finished the previous one.

Rhodes seems to follow a similar pattern that the television show Once Upon a Time followed; namely creating new villains, disposing of them, and then bringing them back or creating a few more. Ultimately, it is this path that really doomed Once Upon a Time and destroyed everything brilliant it had going for it when it first began. The Falling Kingdoms series does something similar. And I just hate it.

I mean, can someone please explain to me what the hell was the point of Theon’s twin (whom we never knew about–or at least, I don’t remember because he could only have been mentioned in the first book) showing up out of nowhere to cause what was probably five minutes worth of tension and then cease to matter entirely three pages later? It’s so outlandish and dumb that I just do not get it.

And that is not to say that these books are terrible. A part of me does understand why they’re enjoyed. These books, in their own way, are extremely engaging even if the characters are unrealistic and the plot is very over the top to the point that everything just gets ridiculous. At the end of the day, there is a quality to Rhodes’ writing that saves the entire series from being a complete disaster. I don’t hate every moment of reading (or listening) to these books. I just think they have a lot of problems.


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