narfna’s #CBR5 Review #86: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

city of glassHOO BOY.

So, I finished this book over two months ago, and that means that this review is not going to be as, er, detailed as I had originally planned. It’s also going to be much, much shorter, so either boo or cheer as appropriate (personally, I do enjoy a good long review, especially when the book in questions is contentious). And, oh boy, is City of Glass contentious.

City of Glass picks up where City of Ashes left off, with Clary and Jace in the throes of misery due to not being allowed to bone one another otherwise INCEST. All the men in her life also insist on trying to ‘protect’ her with their ‘masculinity.’ Everybody ends up in the Shadowhunter city Alicante (in the magical, mythical country of Idris), even poor vampire Simon. Forgive me for my incomplete summary, but I do not remember why everybody was going to that stupid city. I’m sure there was a reason, but it’s not important. What is important is that nobody wants Clary to go, so of course the first thing Clary does is break laws and rules, and go to the city. Anyway, once everybody finally makes it to the city, Valentine breaks the city’s wards (which should be impossible!) and warns all the Shadowhunters even though he doesn’t want to kill them and waste their pure blood, he totally will if he has to, and it’s totally not at all exactly like Voldemort and the Battle of Hogwarts. Nope, not at all. Then this guy named Sebastian shows up and a bunch of shit starts happening, and Clary and Jace are even mopier and lovestruck than usual, and they make out in her bed and also on a hill, even though they think they’re brother and sister at the time, which is . . . I can’t even . . . GAG. Then more stuff happens, and Sebastian is really Clary’s brother! And Jace isn’t! And Valentine dies! And Clary can do special things other Shadowhunters can’t! And other stuff!

Damn. Lost opportunity here. I really should have written this review two months ago. My snark would have been epic and cleansing to my soul.

Before I start on what I didn’t like about this book, I do have to give Clare credit for the few bright spots. The mid-book angel-in-basement thing was surprising and really interesting, mythology wise, and Simon’s storyline continues to be the most interesting of everything. This one also had a much faster moving plot, with even the Clary/Jace moping scenes having the extra benefit of being wackjob certified crazy (seriously, making out all the time), and things actually happen! The main villain (aside from Valentine, who remains underdeveloped and not frightening) is actually really creepy and effective. Idris was pretty cool as well, but either because it’s YA, or because she chose to focus on other stuff, it wasn’t as developed as it could have been.

Actually, that’s one of my main issues with this book. Clare and I differ vastly on what’s interesting in her story. All the things I found really interesting (Simon, etc.) were underdeveloped and in some cases ignored almost completely in favor of other, more melodramatic and rather stupid developments (so. much. melodramatic.moping). Clary is still nothing but a cipher, with Jace continuing be neutered by his love for her, and Clare’s incest obsession borders on the perverse. Her prose is still middling to bad, but is disguised by the presence of an actual plot. She also telegraphs her ‘plot twists’ a mile away. Anyone who didn’t know after page fifty or so that Jace was not actually Clary’s brother, and Sebastian was, is basically an idiot. Sorry if I just called you an idiot. The only truly surprising thing that happens in this story is the stuff with the Angel, and it’s not a coincidence that’s the only bit I really *liked*.

And yes, she still steals things from other stories like mad. From front to back, this trilogy has been an exercise in pastiche writing, but in the worst way possible. I’ve seen everything that’s in these books before, and I’ve seen it better. If you’re going to do pastiche and steal people’s stories and ideas, at least do your own take on the stuff. (Clare didn’t.)

And of course, I have a nagging suspicion that she has a tendency to steal her best lines from other people:

Aline was the first one to break the silence. Fixing her pretty, dark gaze on Simon, she said, “So – what’s it’s like, being a vampire?”

“Aline!” Isabelle looked appalled. “You can’t just go around asking people what’s it’s like to be a vampire.”

I’m not going to lie. This sentence gave me a rage blackout and I woke up to find I’d hurled the book across the room and maybe screamed too, I think, because my throat hurt afterwards.

Look, you can tell me all you like that this is an “allusion” or “homage” but what it actually looks like to me is an author who can’t come up with clever things to say on her own using a quote from one of the most clever movies in the past decade, and changing the words just enough so that people who aren’t as intimately familiar with Mean Girls as I am think it’s something she came up with on her own. And that is not okay. Not to mention, her use of the construction completely misses the sly greatness of the original. This is probably something I would be annoyed about with anyone else, but it makes me genuinely angry with Clare because of the entire context surrounding her writing, which I’ve already written about ad nauseaum. She has already used up all her free passes with me. And who knows what other things she’s paid ‘homage’ to in this book? I could have read many a lifted line and not even known it. And that pisses me off.

Overall, I don’t think I will be be going on with this series for its cash grab ending ‘second trilogy’ (when this one ended just fine), or its five million prequel and sequel series yet to come. So, goodbye Cassandra Clare. Goodbye Jace and Magnus. Goodbye Lupin Luke. Goodbye Clary, you incestuous fucko. I shall not miss you.

[2.5 stars]

narfna’s #CBR4 Review #74: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

CITY OF BONES: A REVIEW IN THREE PARTS

In order to fully process the experience of reading the first book in Cassandra Clare’s ever-expanding Mortal Instruments series, I found it necessary to split my review into three sections. Please feel free to skip around from section to section if the whole review is too long for you, but bear in mind it makes the most sense as a whole review. I apologize in advance, because if you’re anything like me, thinking about this book and the shitstorm surrounding it will consume your mind for days on end. If you need evidence of that, please note that it took me nine. hours. to. write. this. post. (Leslie Knope GIFs included because why not?)

– – –

1. The Book Itself
In the spirit of full disclosure, I devoured this book. I read it in about a day and a half, neglecting things I was supposed to be doing (important things) just so that I could see what crazy thing would happen next. Also, the story was jam packed full of tropes and story arcs that appeal to me. Why was it so full of those things? Well, more on that later, but to be starting out with, all that’s important was that it was ridiculousy readable.

From this point, be warned, SPOILERS AHOY:

If you’ve read much YA, you probably already know the basic plot of City of Bones. Clary Fray is our supposedly normal teen of choice, and she lives in a fictional version of New York City with her artist mother. Her father is dead (. . . OR IS HE?) and her best friend Simon is secretly but obviously in love with her. She’s pretty, but unaware of it. Her farts probably also smell like roses. Then one night when she witnesses a handsome blonde stranger seemingly murdering someone in a club, she finds herself falling into a hidden world where demons are real, and because she can see them (and the people who hunt them) that means she must be part of that world as well. The young man is named Jace, and he is a Shadowhunter/Nephilim, a half-angel being whose mission is to hunt down demons and keep Earth safe. And Clary is a Shadowhunter as well. Surprise!

But Clary’s not just ANY Shadowhunter. She is the daughter of the feared Valentine, a psychotic Master Race kind of Nephilim whose dream it was to cleanse the Shadowhunter world of Downworlders (anyone not Shadowhunter or human, i.e. vampires, werewolves, etc.) and to convert as many humans as possible into Shadowhunters, despite the fact that doing so would kill 80% of them. Clary’s mother took her into hiding when she was little but now she’s discovered her heritage, and her mother has been kidnapped by Valentine’s forces, who are trying to find the Mortal Cup, which Clary’s mother Jocelyn stole from Valentine the night she escaped. So Clary joins forces with the local Shadowhunter team (made of teenagers her age, natch) in order to track it down and rescue her mother. Of course she falls in love with Jace, and there’s a bloody love triangle (actually, a love pentagram). From there, other stuff happens, too, but the important takeaway here is that Simon loves Clary and Clary loves Jace and Jace loves Clary but Jace thinks Valentine is his father and Valentine IS Clary’s father, and also Isabelle hates everyone and Alec is in love with Jace because he’s gay, and there’s also a handsome bisexual Asian Warlock in there as well, and some vampires and werewolves and Simon turns into a rat. And that’s, like, 0.07% of the crazy that happens in this book. (Please do note, however, that no book will ever top the crazy that is Breaking Dawn.)
So what did I think of it? Well, like I said, it’s readable. If you read it really fast with your brain on autopilot, you might even be fooled into thinking Clare has a way with words (and characters). But upon closer inspection, most of Clare’s turns of phrase don’t actually make any sense. For example, after the scene where Clary and Jace rescue Simon the rat from the vampire nest and she’s taken a hefty fall, Clary thinks,

Is that blood? She opened her eyes hazily. Her face felt like one big bruise, her arms, aching and stinging, like raw meat.”

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