Posted in Books, LGBT, Paranormal, Reviews, romance, Young Adult

Book Review: The Dark Artifices Trilogy – Cassandra Clare

All the potential in the world will not amount to anything if there’s a flaw in the execution.

It pains me to say it, because I am a huge fan of the ShadowWorld and all things connected to it, but this trilogy did not quite live up to my expectations.

Maybe that’s my fault. I’ve been looking forward to Julian Blackthorn and Emma Carstairs‘ story ever since they were introduced in The Mortal Instruments series.

I’ve wondered for so long about the secret behind the parabatai bond and why those who have undergone the ritual were forbidden to fall in love, which is the basic premise of this trilogy.

But while the relationship between these two was explored and discussed ad infinitum, I feel like Cassandra literally lost the plot about halfway through the second book.

I feel like she lost sight of why she was writing this book in the first place and the series took on a life of its own.

And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and while I did love discovering the world of the Faerie and the existence of other dimensions, the overall plot got too cluttered in the end.

That’s not to say that this series was bad.

I think the problem was that she tried too hard to please fans both new and old. There was a massive inclusion of characters from previous books, and I get that she was trying to tie all her past series in some way, but it all just got a little bit much.

The first book started out okay, I thought the main plot of that was interesting and really rich in Shadowhunter history. But then it all slightly veered from the road that I thought it was going to go and it never quite totally got back on track.

There was a little too much focus on the romantic elements, especially in the latter half of the second and most of the third book. Even in the midst of the apocalypse, people still found the time to worry about their love life. Go figure.

So the book wasn’t brilliant, but there were elements of it that were beautifully crafted.

I like how Cassandra Clare continues to preach the importance of inclusion and acceptance in her books. The tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders could almost be a parallel for the current state of the world, prejudice and all.

I love how there’s no shortage of diverse couples in this book. For Cassandra, love is love is love is love. She’s always been a big supporter of the LGBT community and that shines through in her book.

FURTHERMORE, there’s an added element in this book that I thought was absolutely RISQUE for what is essentially still a YA book. I wasn’t sure whether it was entirely appropriate but I have never advocated author censorship, and that part was so beautifully done that I think it might actually end up sending the right message to teens.

Intrigued? Read the book to find out more.

The characters were well-developed. I love the tight-knit relationship of the Blackthorn family and how their love for each other evolved over time as a result of trials and heartbreaking loss.

I like how this series showed that the world is not black and white, and that no one is all good and all bad. I love how it showed that, despite all the evil in the world, everyone is still capable of doing good things in the name of love and family.

I understand that this review is probably not that coherent. To be honest, I’ve yet to decide whether I loved it, liked it or regretted it. And may I just say that the books were a whopper? The last one was nearly as thick as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix!

This series is a far cry from The Infernal Devices trilogy, which will remain forever my favourite, but ultimately, and I’ve literally just decided this, its still a good series. And I look forward to the next one, and the continuation of the Blackthorn saga.

Rating: Solid 3 out of 5 stars.

Posted in Books, Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Book Review: The Infernal Devices Trilogy – Cassandra Clare

In case it wasn’t clear enough already, I would like to point out two glaringly obvious points:

  1. I am currently going through a YA (young adult) fantasy phase when it comes to my literary choices and its not likely to stop anytime soon. I know that there is a distinct group of people (people who can’t understand that reading is supposed to be fun) who will say that 30 is a little too old to still be reading YA and to those people, I say (with all the kindness in the world): piss. off. I happen to think that there is a lot that we, as adults, can learn from the YA genre. I will not bore anyone by recounting those here but those who still read YA will know exactly what I mean.
  2. I am a very emotional person. I am the kind of person who will cry at the cinema when a beloved character dies in a film or when Rose doesn’t even think about the physics behind sharing a door panel with Jack when the Titanic sank. I cried when Stuart Little became part of his adopted family, I cry at heartfelt and inspirational speeches especially if they immediately precede an important but tragic battle. I am a crier, and I’m damn proud of it. Lol

 

So it will come as no surprise to those who know me if I start this review by saying that I absolutely blubbered over this trilogy. I read the Goodreads reviews and maybe when I’m less emotional over how this book ended I may understand what they’re saying about this being wish fulfilment and contrived but for now, I just don’t get where the negativity is coming from because I think this trilogy was brilliant. Okay, let’s get to the review.

 

The Infernal Devices trilogy is meant to be a prequel to The Mortal Instruments BUT I think for maximum enjoyment, the reading order should be as follows:

  1. City of Bones
  2. City of Ashes
  3. City of Glass
  4. The Infernal Devices Trilogy – Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess
  5. City of of Fallen Angels
  6. City of Lost Souls
  7. City of Heavenly Fire
  8. Tales from The ShadowHunter Academy
  9. The Bane Chronicles

 

I regret not reading them in that order because I think the books may have packed a more emotional punch if I didn’t already know what was going to happen, having read all 6 books of the Mortal Instruments already. But then again, this trilogy did not need any more ammunition to make me cry. It was heartbreaking enough already.

 

The trilogy tells the story of Tessa Gray, who moved from New York to London in order to be with her brother Nathaniel. Little did she know that Nate has been caught up in the shadow world of demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and shadow hunters. She is captured by two warlocks whose purpose is to unlock Tessa’s powers, because Tessa isn’t what she seems and has abilities far beyond anything she can ever imagine. She is rescued by Will Herondale, a young shadow hunter from The London Institute and introduced to people who will eventually become like the family she never had. She meets James  (Jem) Carstairs, Will’s parabatai (like a blood brother) who’s also got secrets of his own; Sophie, a mundane with a tragic past; Charlotte Fairchild, the head of the Institute who’s trying to prove that a woman’s worth goes beyond her ability to give birth and Henry Branwell, a brilliant if somewhat absent-minded inventor and Charlotte’s husband.

 

The big bad of this book may seem underwhelming, and I found it ridiculous at first that he could even be considered a threat. But there is no better motive for world domination and destruction than the thirst for revenge I guess, and in a way, its the fact that no one expected him to be a threat that made him so dangerous to the shadow hunters. The villain is, as they usually are, extremely firm in his beliefs and convictions and has the added advantage of foresight. He’s been planning his revenge on the shadow hunters long before Tessa was ever born, and has had the patience to wait to be able to carry out his plan.

 

This trilogy also involves a love story. In fact, it involves one of my most hated things in the world: a love triangle: Will – Tessa – Jem. I was ready to hate this book because I usually cannot stand love triangles. I find them silly, stupid, and saccharine and its beyond belief how three seemingly sensible people could be driven to do senseless things all in the name of love. But this triangle is different. I won’t go into too much detail about it because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. But this triangle is not annoying, there’s no flip-flopping involved, neither is there cheating; there is selflessness, sacrifice and above all, there is so much love and friendship that it kept me up till midnight and resulted in the aforementioned blubbering.

 

(Are you listening to me Stephenie Meyer? This, THIS is how you write love triangle!)

 

Its not so much the love story that makes this book worth reading. The world building and the fantasy elements are also notable; there is the underlying lesson that we are all capable of something great and that just because someone is different doesn’t mean that they are to be feared or persecuted. The battle scenes were quite good as well. But the true lynchpin of this story is the friendship between Will and James. HONESTLY. I am now obsessed with the parabatai concept and where can I get one please? I loved how these two refused to have anything, even death, come between them. I love how they managed to be there for each other despite the odds, and I want to believe that there is a world out there where they are still fighting side by side, so in tune to each other because their hearts and souls are – and always will be – one.

 

(Also, can I just say, I love that Jem is half Asian. I love that he speaks mandarin and that a lot of the important dialogue in the third book was in mandarin.)

 

I am now more convinced than ever that Cassandra Clare haters should just shut up and let the past lie where it belongs: in the past. Yes, she’s done some dodgy things but let’s give credit where credit is due. She’s done a fantastic job building the Shadow Hunter world. Her words just flow into a seamless narrative that is easy to read, and that is capable of touching the hearts of her readers. I am a fan, and I will continue to be if only because of this gift of a trilogy that she’s given the world.

 

READ THIS TRILOGY, FELLOW YA LOVERS. You won’t regret it!

 

Happy Sunday everyone! x

Posted in Books, Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Book Review: The Mortal Instruments Series – Cassandra Clare

I’ve been on Goodreads long enough to know that one of its golden rules is that thou shall never judge a book by another member’s review. Although I sometimes make the decision to read or not read a book based on the community’s rating/s, I try not to be put off by negative reviews,  especially if a book’s blurb sounds particularly interesting.

There are a lot of negative things about Cassandra Clare on the internet. Apparently, she was involved in some scandal a few years ago because of a Draco Malfoy fanfiction plagiarism accusation which led her to be banned from a fanfiction website. I’m not too clear on the details, but allegedly, huge parts of ‘City of Bones’ is lifted off the material in question so people were outraged when it went on to sell millions (plus movie and television adaptations). 

I personally don’t understand why she’s being singled out for something that seems like common practice to me (I’m looking at you EL James). I am not trying to defend plagiarism, I think there’s nothing worse than an author trying to pass off plagiarised content as original material. But take 50 shades of Grey for example. That started out as Twilight fanfiction didn’t it? The similarities were painfully obvious; if you take away the BDSM and add the sparkly vampire element, the basic structure of both series is the same. It still made EL James a household name (and suddenly made it acceptable to be reading about S and M). 

I can see why people would think that The Mortal Instrument series is some kind of fanfiction for Harry Potter. 

1. Valentine Morgenstern – obsessed with the purity of Nephilim bloodlines is almost a reincarnation of Voldemort

2. The Circle – Valentine’s followers who repented and renounced him when he presumably died is the nephilim equivalent of the Death Eaters

3. Mundanes – the Nephilim’s term for the human race. Mundanes = Muggles?

4. Jace Wayland – I personally find it hard to believe that he’s based on Draco Malfoy. I think he’s much more developed as a character. Physically, okay, he’s also got blond hair but that’s it. Or is Jace meant to be Harry Potter? 

Actually, the further on that the book series progressed, the less I felt like I was reading fanfiction. Its unfair to think that one author is copying off another simply because there are similarities. I think its hard to come up with a truly original concept in fantasy fiction. You inevitably come across a variation of a theme that’s already been explored in some other book. That doesn’t mean that the author doesn’t deserve some credit for the book itself if the book happens to be GOOD.

I fully agree that Cassandra should just own up to her shady past, because the truth is, these books are absolutely brilliant. They don’t deserve all the negativity surrounding them because they actually contain original content, in my own humble opinion. In addition, if I think about all the things that make a fantasy series great, I find that a lot of those things can be found in these series and more besides.

1. World Building – I think Cassandra Clare did such a good job of building the Shadow World, especially with regards to the history of the shadowhunters, family legacies, notable Downworlders (vampires, werewolves and warlocks), immortals who have directly or indirectly affected current events. There’s even a tie-in to the prequel series (which I’m only just starting to read).

2. The idea that no matter how different we are, we are all the same and we need each other so that good triumphs over evil. I am a sucker for these kind of storylines. 

3. A hero’s journey – Clary Fray and Jace Wayland both literally go to hell and back to triumph over evil and they discovered a lot of things about themselves along the way.

4. No one is born good or evil. It all comes down to choice. You see this a lot in fantasy series and there’s a reason for that. I believe that the things that happen to you don’t shape who you are, its the choices and decisions you make that make you who you are.

5. Runes tattooed onto a shadowhunter’s body that serves as a source of power.

6. Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane. Enough said. These two should have their own series.

7. Simon Lewis, an ordinary mundane who got sucked into the shadow world just because he’s in love with his best friend Clary, and ended up playing a more vital role than anyone could have predicted.

8. Plot twists and secret histories. I love love love plot twists. I think some of tbe plot twists in the. book should have been explored more in the tv series but I supposed when you’re uncertain about whether its gonna be picked up for another season you should cram as much in one season as you can and leave off some of the other plot devices. But I hope there’s a flashback episode somewhere in the Shadow Hunter tv series future.

9. The Silent Brothers. They turn out to be so much more intriguing than I thought they were.

10. The parabatai concept. A parabatai is someone who grew up and trained with you and with whom you share such a special connection with. It is a bond as strong as marriage and if your parabatai dies, a part of you dies as well. Together, you are better fighters than if you are apart. The catch? You can’t ever fall in love with your parabatai (they’re usually same sex, and except for Jace and Alec for obvious reasons, this was never a problem before!). I really think a whole series should be devoted to exploring the parabatai bond. 

So, I have gone on and on about what I love about this series, enough for you bookworms to know that if your trust me, you should buy all six books right now. Seriously, Amazon sells all 6 for the bargain price of £12. Click here to buy!  I really think fans of YA and fantasy will get into this. Or I could be wrong.

Cheers bookworms!