City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones (Mortal Instruments #1)256683
Author: Cassandra Clare
Pages: 485
Year: 2007
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Rating: 3.75/5

Goodreads Synopsis: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

After the book hangover I received after The Infernal Devices, I decided to self medicate by reading The Mortal Instruments series. I was underwhelmed… Which was so disappointing because I really loved The Infernal Devices, so I was actually really excited to read Mortal Instruments. But it turned out to be the low-fat, gluten free, diet version of the aforementioned.

Here’s what I liked:

  • The action scenes were written really well. The pacing of said action scenes were realistic and easy to follow and visualize.
  • Plot twists (Even though I already knew about them prior to reading.) were plot twisty. Cassandra Clare knows her plot twists and knows how to shock the ever-living crap out of her readers. (What kind of sick human is Cassandra Clare? Who comes up with this shit?)

Here’s what I didn’t like:

  • Everything else.

Let’s get to know our characters!

Clary Fray:

  • Is a Mary Sue
    • Author surrogate (Come on, Clare… Clary? Seriously?)
    • Able to throw a dagger at a demon despite having never used a weapon prior to this, AKA somehow “blessed” with extraordinary power and skill despite being an ordinary ginger from Brooklyn.
    • Has a tragic backstory in which she was raised by a single parent, *sob* never met her real/fake father, and doesn’t even know she’s a shadowhunter
    • Suffers from “doesn’t know how beautiful she is” syndrome and is somehow oblivious to her endless train of men who are desperately in love with her without cause or reason.
      • Described as petite with red hair and green eyes, but is somehow “too short, too thin, not as beautiful as her mom.” (Gag.)
    • Character flaws include: Angst, stubbornness, girl on girl hate, simple-mindedness, shallowness. Flaws somehow portrayed as “endearing.”
      • Don’t even argue with me on these. Clary is not brave, she is stupid and reckless. She puts herself and others in danger before thinking about the consequences of her actions.
        • For example: In the nightclub she confronts what she thinks is a “gang” because they are threatening a boy she thought was attractive. Instead of calling the police or finding a level 75 Adult™, she decides to venture out on her own and confront a hostile looking group of people with weapons. Bye.

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  • Side note: I really hate to hate on Clary because I actually didn’t mind her character thaaaat much… but we have to see her for what she is, and that’s a Mary Sue.

Simon Lewis:

  • Soft Love interest #2
  • Modern King of the Friend-zone, relieving Jem Carstairs of his crown once and for all
  • Follows Clary around like a baby duckling that just hatched and imprinted on her
  • In a band b/c angst
  • Needs to get a grip
  • Tries to make Mary Sue jealous by pretending to be attracted to Modern Jessamine, backfires.

Jace Wayland:

  • Love interest #1
  • Will Herondale but with more narcissism.
  • Sarcasm and knives
  • Tells bizarre stories about how he can’t love or be loved by anyone because his father is a sick SOB who kills people’s beloved pets.
    • Not sure if that’s more tragic than thinking you were cursed by a demon or not.

Alec Lightwood:

  • Gay Jem Carstairs, but with more angst
  • Barely wants to be a shadowhunter, which means our beloved Jessamine trope is alive and well in the Lightwood children.
  • Basically everyone’s mom
  • Also: I ship Alec and Magnus so hard. I hope they get together in a later book, otherwise this was all for naught.

Isabelle Lightwood:

  • Jessamine of the 21st century, except kick-ass
    • AND doesn’t betray anyone for a potato head named Nate.
  • Probably plotting everyone’s death via her cooking

Magnus Bane:

  • Still the Magnus we know and love, with the added twist of being gay
    • Or fluid sexuality or whatever the damn hell the cool kids call it these days. I’ve probably offended half the internet already with this review and we aren’t even through all the characters yet. Please don’t start a flame war in my comments section, this blog is not insured against fire damage.
  • I’m here for it though, it makes sense.

Valentine Morganstern:

  • The most extra name Cassandra Clare could probably come up with.
  • Our resident villain and the father of cliches 😉
    • Seriously, what kind of villain name is Valentine? I feel like Valentine is such a cliche villain name, like Maleficent or Mordecai or Voldemort… You know what would be hilarious? If she named her villain something normal and unassuming like Steven or Jason… Or Chad.

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No Charlotte and Henry replacements yet, sadly. Unless you want to count Hodge, who is a limp noodle and gets no character description.

Hodge’s Bird:

  • Attacks Clary for being a Mary Sue and loses

Moving on….

The novel starts out with some angst and a night club. (A night club for 16 year-olds, because convenience.) I’m sure you’ve seen the movie and show, so I won’t go into how this plays out. Clary’s mom is kidnapped by a villain with a stupid name, and Clary figures out that she is a Shadowhunter. (Duh. Did you even read the book, bro?) From there, a plethora of recycled plot points ensue, as well as several (massive) information dumps to move the plot along.

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After a quick Q&A with our characters to learn a lot about the Shadowhunter world Clare has created in a short amount of time, we are finally finished with book one.

Kidding…. but seriously there has GOT to be a better way to do this.

Clary takes discovering that her memories have been erased since she was two and that she comes from a world of demon hunting and other mystical creatures surprisingly well. She literally just shrugs like, “oh, okay. That makes sense.” Whereas the rest of us would be making that face Tyrion makes when he sees a dragon for the first time.
Exhibit A: a4d695b856f5c1ca31c6f38f78b36cf1.jpg

There are some brief flashes of anger and outrage over these revelations, but she generally gets over it unfathomably quickly. She doesn’t grow much as a character either, which is strange because usually people change a little bit when they find out they’re actually part of an ancient race of demon hunters.

What Clary does manage to focus on is hating Isabelle for the simple crime of being prettier than her. She actually goes out of her way to be mean to her just because she is jealous. Are you kidding me? Our protagonist is so insecure that she needs to tear down anyone who dares make her feel inferior? You can’t tell me that this is how teenage girls think, and we can’t encourage that kind of behavior or the thought that pretty girls are the enemy. This is portrayed several times throughout the novel, in which some women are portrayed as better than other women in their same situation because of their behavior or looks. What a nice message.

Also, one thing I was looking forward to in this novel were the witticisms that characterized the Infernal Devices series, but I was more or less underwhelmed. There were a few times where I found myself smiling, but I have come to figure out that her characters more or less use the same formula when it comes to humor. And BOY are they cheesy.

Character One: “Asks a simple question.”
Character Two: “That’s hyperbole, bad simile, weird comparison.”
Character Three: “Saracastic comment.”

Mary Sue/Clary finds herself caught in a love triangle between Simon and Jace, and it’s painfully obvious from the beginning who she is going to pick. Jem/Simon never even had a chance, until it is revealed that Jace is Clary’s BROTHER. What?! …WHAT?! (Granted, I already knew about this because the Shadowhunter fandom is terrible at keeping secrets, but still…) This was me:

I feel like this post is very long and critical, and I hate to be so negative because City of Bones wasn’t terrible, just mediocre. The writing isn’t bad, but it isn’t up to the standard that The Infernal Devices set. This was Cassandra Clare’s first book that she published, and I can tell. But it just shows how much she has grown as a writer, and I am all for constant improvement! I know book two will be better!

Last note: Happy publishing anniversary to this book, which will turn 10 on March 27th!

Top Five Wednesday: Book Trends I’m tired of

“What are some things you are tired of seeing that are trends in publishing? Maybe something that pops up on a lot of covers these days, or the popularity of certain tropes in a particular genre?

The Love Triangle

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, I’ll say it a thousand more times. I hate love triangles. They are one of the few things that annoy me about books, television, etc. I get that they are there for the drama and to keep simple-minded people interested, but come ON. They are seriously so unnecessary and really don’t add anything to the plot or help the protagonist grow in any way. The best thing about the Divergent series was that Veronica Roth did not make Tris and Four’s relationship a love triangle, and did the story suffer as a result? (Yes, but not for lack of love interests.) Done. Next.

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Bad Parenting

From Disney to your local bookstore, bad parenting is a trend that has been sweeping the nation for centuries. Why can’t we ever have a book series where the parents are 1) ALIVE 2) Present 3) Loving and supportive 4) Not the villain?? This is a trend in adult novels as well, where the parent is someone that the protagonist wants to get rid of. There are a few contemporary novels that have started integrating good parenting into their ranks, but we almost NEVER see it in any other genre. I get that a responsible, caring parent can be a hindrance when their kid is off trying to save the world, but I’m sure that some author somewhere can provide us with a good example. We’re waiting for you, parents! #Parentslivesmatter

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Insta-love

Hey, I just met you… And this is crazy… But I’m in love with you… So marry me, maybe?

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BYE. DONE. NEXT. 

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Bad YA adaptations

Hollywood has reached a new level of suckitude. I used to get excited when my favorite books were made into films or TV shows, but now I couldn’t be more annoyed. Hunger Games: Disappointing. Divergent: Butchered. Shadowhunters: Embarrassing. Let’s not even talk about The 5th Wave. It’s not like the acting is bad, because they are casting great/well-known actors/actresses for these parts. Of course, while I want to have great actors, I also would rather have someone relatively unknown to play the part. I never see the actresses as the characters they are portraying, and if I go see a movie it is in SPITE of who the actress is. I see it because I already love the book, not because of who is in it. Also, the writing is so CHEESY. They try so hard to be current and funny, but it ends up making me cringe.

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Romanticizing abuse

Fifty Shades of Grey I AM LOOKING AT YOU. Are these the kinds of relationships we want to portray to young impressionable women?

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Hell no. ******

Honorable mentions:

This book is just like (Insert other book)!

No its not. Next.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

16181775Title: The Rosie Project
Author: Graeme Simsion
Pages: 295
Year: 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis: An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

The Review Project:

Problem:
Not enough people have read The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

Hypothesis:
If I review The Rosie Project on this blog for my followers, that will increase their desire to read this novel in the future.

Materials:
→ The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
→ This Blog

Subject 1 : Don Tillman, narrator.
Gender : Male
Age : 39
Occupation : Associate Professor of genetics at the University of Melbourne
Notable Qualities : Black-Belt in Aikido, suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome (unbeknownst to Don, who thinks there is something missing that leaves him baffled by human behavior and unappealing to other people.)
Relationship status : On the prowl. After realizing that many women are incompatible with his personality and over-organized way of living, Don decides to make a 16 page questionnaire to find himself the perfect wife, A.K.A. “The Wife Project.” (Something that has ACTUALLY HAPPENED, to Amy Webb who found her husband by using math and analytics to narrow the dating field.)

Subject 2 : Rosie Jarman, unsuitable for “The Wife Project”
Gender : Female
Age : 29
Occupation : Barmaid, Student
Notable Qualities : Smart, stong-minded, vegetarian, trying to find her own special person (her biological father). Rosie is an utterly likeable female lead who brings the unexpected to Don’s life. She shatters his (many) personal beliefs, disrupts his routinized life in a big way, and causes him (and the reader) to fall in love with her. However, she is far from the Manic Pixie Dream girl. She doesn’t want to fix Don, she has her own problems and failings that she is focused on. She is unapologetically herself, and one of the best supporting contemporary heroines I have read in a while.

Research:

➊ The Wife Project is portrayed as an extremely sexist way to find a wife, which put me off at first… but this fault is addressed and worked through with character development. Don’s character progresses so much throughout the novel. When we meet Don, he lives a solitary life of meticulous routine. Because he is different and sees the world in a different way, albeit in a way devoid of emotion, he has been ostracized from his peers. His rigid lifestyle has led him to ostracize others in the same way, if they do not make his standards then they are eliminated as potential relationships. Throughout the course of the novel he learns to accept others for who they are, and accept himself for who he is.

➋ The author perfectly captures Don’s voice, which is the strongest part of the novel in my opinion. I found it to be incredibly accurate to the way people with Asperger’s Syndrome think and speak in the real world, and it certainly explores the complex issues they face in a light-hearted way.

➌ Don’s inability to recognize social cues leads to some hilarious hi-jinks and misunderstandings that left me laughing out loud.

“I turned to see him – he was large and angry. In order to prevent further violence, I was forced to sit on him.
‘Get the fuck off me. I’ll fucking kill you,’ he said.
On that basis, it seemed illogical to grant his request.”

Conclusion: Why should you read this book?
Don is an awkward, but adorable character whose desire to fit in and find love is moving in more ways than one. Honestly, if I haven’t given you enough incentive already, I’ll leave you with this. If you love The Big Bang Theory, you’ll love this book… And if you don’t love The Big Bang Theory, you’ll still love this book. (I know, because I fit into the latter category.)