I have read a total of four books by Holly Black: The Cruel Prince, The Wicked King, The Darkest Part of the Forest, and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. The best I gave a four star rating (The Cruel Prince). The worst I gave one star (The Wicked King and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown). My average rating for them all? Two. As you can see, I haven’t enjoyed her books much and I’ll explain why.
Glorification of Evil
Holly Black seems a little obsessed with things that are pretty wrong. Time and time again she paints these beautiful words full of darkness. But the darkness isn’t bad… or good. It just is, and everyone is perfectly fine with that. Out of every character she has written, only one-maybe two–have been anywhere near good examples. Cardan is an arrogant and cruel prince (care to guess what book he’s in?); Jude is straight-up evil at times and doesn’t care; Severin is lustful and kisses people without consent, yet somehow manages to fall in love with someone (another guy, for that matter); Hazel fights evil, but has no problem killing people and doesn’t really seem fazed by it; Aidan sleeps around, purposefully manipulates and hurts his girlfriend, and will kiss anyone as long as he’s having a good time. All of these characters lean more on their bad habits and flaws and readers embrace it. Which isn’t good. Partying and drinking are another issue in her books. It is shown that getting drunk, disobeying the law, and partying till the sun comes up is just having a good time and that there’s nothing wrong with it. The more books I read by Holly Black, the more I realize that I am becoming jaded to the evil elements within her stories. Because they are that frequent. Her books are dark with no hope of light and seem to embrace that the darkness just is.
Unnecessary Sex/Makeout Scenes
I get that some people can gloss over or skim over a sex scene or make-out scene. Some of the time, I can too. But Holly Black’s novels are descriptive, which is great, unless we’re talking about sex. Then it becomes erotic to the point where I feel it has completely left the YA spectrum and jumped into the Adult Romance genre. And again, the more I read her books, the more indifferent I become to the inappropriate content she allows. In The Wicked King, a scene occurs where clothes are pulled off of each other, hands to roam to questionable areas of the body, and sensual pleasure is described. This is NOT OKAY! I don’t care if some teens are comfortable reading this, because if they are, they always can just find a book in the Adult section of their library. It should not be in the Teens section. In The Darkest Part of the Forest, two teens almost have sex and things get pretty heated before they stop. We are giving teens the impression and idea that having sex that young is perfectly normal and acceptable, when actually it’s quite dangerous and can lead to some tough consequences that they’re not prepared for physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Everything is Turned Sexual and/or Dark
Going off of my last point, so many things are turned sexual and dark in her books. The crude innuendos, the overly detailed descriptions of what it feels like to touch and kiss someone you’re attracted to, how sin is considered totally fine and fun… the list goes on. It is giving teens today this very flawed and broken view of how we’re supposed to act. It shows that drinking your worries away, partying so long and hard that you drop, and that having sex with someone you barely know are all perfectly fine. Because of this, I won’t be reading any of Holly Black’s books for a while.
I get that not everyone will agree on my stance on this issue, so if you’d like to discuss it in the comments, please just make sure that you keep it clean and respectful.