Sarah J. Maass is this reporter’s pick-me-up, it could be yours as well. PHOTO CREDIT: sarahjmaas.com

As an English major, I like to imagine myself as having amazing taste in books, but I realize that, deep down, I love a trashy read as much as the next person. A few years ago, I was looking for a new series to read during a particularly busy semester in high school, but I knew that it couldn’t be anything too dense. So I asked my friends for some recommendations, and I struck gold. From the very first page, I was entranced by “Throne of Glass” by Sarah J. Maas.

While her early books were relatively standard for the time (i.e. a classic fairy tale re-imagined for a modern audience), they had something to them that was undoubtedly alluring to me. After reading the first two books, I was bored, but in the third book, Maas completely twisted the story from what I had believed it would be; “Heir of Fire” finally allowed Maas’ voice to come through.

To put it simply, Maas’ style of writing is mindless. But after weeks of reading Shakespeare, Victorian novels and literary theory, some mindlessness is what I need. Other high fantasy novels, like “The Lord of the Rings,” encourage readers to take a deeper look and be observant. These books are not that; the more you read into many aspects, the less you will likely enjoy your reading.

This is not to say that Maas is a particularly bad writer, it just means that this is a book to read for enjoyment.

I will admit that “Throne of Glass,” “A Court of Thorns and Roses” and the newest series “Crescent City” are not for everyone. If you don’t enjoy reading high fantasy, romance, smut or young adult novels, this probably is not for you. 

My guilt from reading Maas largely comes from her sexual content in the books. For a large part, her sex scenes are just weird, like Wattpad fanfiction weird. No details are spared and it often feels like these scenes are written by someone who does not understand sex.

Worst of all, in “A Court of Thorns and Roses” much of the sex is bordering on, if not fully in the territory of, sexual assault. While in later books Maas backtracked much of what seemed to be her glorification of borderline sexual coercion, it still feels bad every time I read that book. 

There is much to enjoy from Maas’ writing though. Her characters, while not diverse, are compelling, especially in Maas’ newest novel, “House of Earth and Blood.” Don’t even get me started on the character development in the newest “A Court of Thorns and Roses” novel “A Court of Silver Flames” that completely develops a character that has been largely ignored for the past three-and-a-half books. Taking a hated character and turning her into someone that the reader can empathize with, all while keeping her consistent with the past novels, is a feat to be lauded.

Maas’ romances are also iconic and deeply compelling. While it may feel cliche or lazy to have the entire ensemble cast have “mates” that they are meant to bond with, some things just work. I like that the love between characters is meant to be. 

Spoiler alert for “A Court of Thorns and Roses” and “A Court of Mist and Fury,” but Rhysand and Feyre’s relationship is so perfect.

Again, these books are not for everyone, but don’t ruin them for other people. I want to enjoy my mindless romance stories that I don’t have to question. When I need a pick-me-up, I know that Sarah J. Maas always has just the thing for me.