Welcome to Celaena-mania! | Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass

[Insert some tired quip about how I’m reluctant to read the books everyone else is raving about because more often than not I’m left feeling disappointed]

But then Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas happened, and I’m sad that I didn’t read it sooner. Sad that I didn’t get to anticipate the release of the next books in the series with everyone else. Sad that I wasn’t swept up in Celaena-mania. Why do I have to be so stubborn? This was such a good book! (Oh, PS. SPOILERS)

 

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I’m Disappointed…That it Took Me So Long to Read This Book! | The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

There were two reasons why I didn’t read Percy Jackson the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan when it was released:

  1. In January 2005, I was a junior in high school, and I considered myself too old for middle grade novels.
  2. Yet, I wasn’t too old for Harry Potter, which is the other reason I didn’t read this book. Someone said it was “perfect for fans of Harry Potter“, which is an instant turn-off. Nothing can compare to Harry Potter!

So, I’m not sure why, at the age of 27, I felt compelled to buy this middle grade novel (other than, it was on sale, and I’m notoriously impulsive when it comes to buying and borrowing books). Once I brought the book home with me, it spent a few months sitting on the floor beside my bed before I even considered actually reading it. It was because of mentions on two blogs, Reviews and Cake and J.Bookish, that I took as a sign and decided to finally give the book a read. Right from chapter one, I was totally engrossed in The Lightning Thief. Normally I can’t read in bed because I get drowsy really quickly, but this book had me thinking just one more chapter before lights out, and before I knew it, the clock read midnight. I even read this book with the teevee on, and I wasn’t distracted at all.

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Shakespeare Undead

Book Blind Date | Shakespeare Undead by Lori Handleland

I’ve mentioned it before, but I go in “blind” with almost every book I borrow from the library. It encourages me to select books I never would have otherwise because of perceptions of a genre or a style. This was the case for Shakespeare Undead by Lori Handeland. I picked up this novel for two reasons:

  1. I needed spooky books for my October “horror” series, and well…this book does have “undead” right in the title.
  2. The book cover features Shakespeare with vampire fangs, and apparently that’s all the convincing I need.

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nimona

Halt You Villains! Unhand That Review! Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Released: October 2014
Publisher: Marvel
Age Group: Young Adult
Add to Goodreads
★★★★
Synopsis: Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

My Thoughts

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is one of those books that makes me questions my rating scale. I’ve been thinking all week about how fun this book was, how I wish I could trick Jon into reading it, how the artwork was fun and quirky, and how the characters in this book turn our hero/villain archetypes on their heads. It almost appears to be a book that has the qualities of a five-star read, yet…it’s not? What then is it lacking that prevents it from five-star status on this blog? Is it something that I cannot quantify in words? I mean, I can hardly think of a flaw! In fact, here is a list of why you should read Nimona:

  1.  Nimona’s got zest, she’s got spunk, she’s fearless, and I loved reading about a female protagonist (or is she an antagonist?) that embodied those characteristics. Nimona is such a force that she drove the plot forward instead of circumstance.
  2. Noelle Stevenson plays with the hero/villain archetype in her graphic novel, which was fun although it was a little predictable. This of course doesn’t diminish my hatred of the Institution for what they did to Nimona and Blackheart and Goldenloin.
  3. Nimona is a shapeshifter AND SOMETIMES SHE TURNS INTO AN ADORABLE CAT. I mean, isn’t that enough?
  4. Something about the artwork and the banter between the characters combined makes this book laugh out loud funny. I lost track of how many times this book made me gigglesnort.
  5. This graphic novel is a blend of fantasy and science fiction, which fascinates me. Weapons of choice are either big plasma guns or trusty swords. I don’t know how this works, it just does.

The only downfall of Nimona is despite the origin stories and despite the scientific research about Nimona, I still don’t understand how she gained her shape-shifting powers or how they really work. Of course reasons 1-5 make up for this, but I still wanted to be able to close the book and be able to say, “Ooooh, so that’s how it happened”.

In the end, Nimona was an excellent read– fast-paced, funny, and a rip-roaring adventure. It also convinced me I need more Noelle Stevenson in my life; during my next library visit, I’ll be searching for the Lumberjane graphic novels, another series Noelle Stevenson wrote/co-wrote.

Have you read anything written by Noelle Stevenson? What did you think of it? Did you know that she illustrated the cover of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl? Awesooooome!

Keeper of the lost cities

Admitting Defeat with Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger (Keeper of the Lost Cities #1)

Released: October 2012
Publisher: Aladdin
Add to Goodreads
NO RATING, DNF

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster has a secret. She’s a Telepath—someone who hears the thoughts of everyone around her. It’s a talent she’s never known how to explain.Everything changes the day she meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who appears out of nowhere and also reads minds. She discovers there’s a place she does belong, and that staying with her family will place her in grave danger. In the blink of an eye, Sophie is forced to leave behind everything and start a new life in a place that is vastly different from anything she has ever known.Sophie has new rules to learn and new skills to master, and not everyone is thrilled that she has come “home.”
There are secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memory—secrets about who she really is and why she was hidden among humans—that other people desperately want. Would even kill for.

 

My Thoughts

Ever since I gave up on Lauren Oliver’s Delirium, I’ve become more open to the idea of not finishing books I’m just not that in to. Last week, I read three pages of Rain, Reign by Ann M. Martin before calling it quits (the style of narration was really overwhelming to me), and today, after reading about a third of the book and the final chapter, I gave up on Keeper of the Lost Cities. I’m kind of devastated too, because I really, really wanted to love this book.

I felt disconnected from the characters, which is automatically a bad start, because if I don’t care about the characters, how can I care about their plight? Too many were introduced in this first novel, so it was hard to keep everyone straight, and I felt like the characters lacked development; even the main character seemed a little bland. Perhaps most disappointing of all though, this story lacked true friendships. This is a middle grade, fantasy novel, so I went in to it expecting Sophie to discover her BFF4Es (her Ron and Hermione) but all Sophie seemed to gain was allies, not true friends.

I felt similarly about the world building. Everything in the fantasy world has the potential to be new and exciting for the reader, but there were too many ideas and products and foods and activities that were introduced. Their existence often seemed arbitrary, and there seemed to be a lot of “hand waving” just to keep the story moving. That was so un-fulfilling because there were so many fun ideas, like strawberry-flavored air, which I think is some kind of snack, or the fact that wooly mammoths still exist in the lost cities, or catching rides on light beams, but they just became lost in the background.

And…is it just me, or does this book seem oddly similar to Harry Potter? Both characters spend childhood feeling out-of-place in the mundane world only to find out as pre-teens that they have magical abilities and really belong at a school that teaches them how to control their abilities. Sophie doesn’t end up at a boarding school like Harry does, but the reader does get to accompany her during all of her exciting magical classes like Multispecies Studes (ie. Muggle Studies), Metaphysics, the Universe, Elementalism, and Alchemy (ie. potions complete with an instructor that is extra harsh on her).  I actually think this has to potential to be exciting for some young readers, but…you have to understand, Harry Potter is “my jam” so I’m unfortunately extra critical when I notice such similarities. Harry Potter trumps all.

There is no star rating for Keeper of the Lost Cities (not to be confused with a zero-star rating). I didn’t finish it, so I don’t think I can rate it fairly.

Fables

Fairy Tales and Girl Powa!

Fables Vol. 1 & 2 by Bill Willingham

Released: October 2009 (Fables originally released 2002)
Publisher: Vertigo | DC Comics
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★★★★☆

Synopsis: When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters created their own secret society-within an exclusive luxury apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side-called Fabletown. But when Snow White’s party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Bigby, Fabletown’s sheriff, and a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf, to determine if the culprit is Bluebeard, Rose’s ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.

My Thoughts

Aside from the occasional manga I read back in middle school and the handful of Batman comics I’ve read since I’ve been dating Jon, I haven’t read too many graphic novels. But, that doesn’t mean they’ve never been on my radar throughout the years– granted, my wish list has grown significantly longer over the past couple of months as more and more bloggers seem to be featuring graphic novels. The series that has been on my wish list the longest though is Fables by Bill Willingham. I stumbled upon it about ten years ago, and it took me that long before I finally purchased myself the first two books. I was a little reluctant to start reading Fables. First, it’s such a popular series, and how disappointed would I be if I didn’t like it? Second, I had been building it up for nearly ten years, so even if I just thought it was mediocre, Fables would still have a long way to fall. I am happy to report though that what I’ve read of Fables has met my expectations. Whatta relief!

Fables takes all of our favorite fairy tales and turns them in to reality. Kind of like the Sisters Grimm or the TV show, Once Upon a Time, but seedy because it takes place in New York City, and it’s meant for mature readers. Beware, there is violence, foul language, and sexual situations amongst the pages. Vol. 1, Legends in Exile, is a twisting, turning whodunnit story complete with a parlor room scene that took me by surprise, and Vol. 2, Animal Farm, is a suspenseful tale of revolution. The cover artwork is stunning, but the artwork frame-to-frame is just good (and that’s absolutely just a personal aesthetic  taste). And sure, the banter between characters is a little silly at times, but that doesn’t detract from how fun and magical the story is. Perhaps most satisfying of all is (so far) women take charge in this series. Snow White is a Director of Operations of Fabletown. Goldilocks is a radical revolutionary leader. Cinderella goes toe-to-toe with Bluebeard in a fencing match. Girl power!

As a graphic novel newbie, there was a lot to take in while reading Fables. The artwork is rich with detail, the world is wonderfully complex, and a diverse cast of characters have their own unique story arcs. It was a rewarding read, and I look forward to picking up Vol. 3, Storybook Love.

The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima Review

Book Cover for The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima (Seven Realms #2)
Released:
September 2010
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Add to Goodreads
★★★★☆
Synopsis: Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean that danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

Everything changes when Han and Raisa’s paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

My Thoughts

It’s a rare occasion when I read the first book in a series and I enjoyed it enough that I consider reading the second book in a series. It’s an even rarer occasion when I actually pick up book two in a series. Remember when I declared my love for Matched by Ally Condie, The Candidates by Inara Scott, and Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel? I never actually continued those series, and I probably never will now. Then, there are these anomalous events where I find myself not just reading book two but then scrambling to get my hands on book three and four. There is the Harry Potter series (duh!) and the Twilight series (I can’t explain this one), and now there is the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima. I reviewed the first book, The Demon King, two years ago, and believe it or not, I just finished the second book in the series. OH. MY. GOSH.

P.S. Spoilers?

In The Exiled Queen, we find our two heroes, Han and Raisa, separated once more. Yet as the tides of war lap at the Seven Realms, both are traveling to boarding school, Oden’s Ford, to seek refuge and to perfect skills that may aid them in the battles to come. I don’t know why, but if a story involves a boarding school, there is a 97% chance I’m going to love the book. I am such a nerd that I’m excited to learn about my favorite characters’ school day (please ignore the notes on how to travel to Aediion that I’ve jotted down in my own composition notebook). I just get really absorbed into the surroundings. Plus, there are so many unsupervised opportunities to mingle with one’s peers, and in such close quarters, there are so many opportunities to bump into love interests. Despite taking place in a fantasy setting, the romantic elements seem more realistic in this novel than in most other YA novels I’ve read. The passion without obsession. The mind’s hesitation to start a relationship, when the heart wants nothing more than to jump in with abandon. The crushing force of seeing the person you’re falling in love with doting on another.  There were moments when my heart was screaming for two characters to kiss, but instead they were both stuck inside their own heads filled with doubt, too afraid to make the first move. Won’t we all experience this at least once in our own lives? And kudos to the author, who wasn’t afraid to write about hormonal teenagers and birth control (ie. maidenweed).

The characters continue to grow and develop in The Exiled Queen. Just when I thought I understood a characters motives, they are thrown into situations that challenge their values. I was always eager to turn the page so I could discover what caused the change of heart. Raisa continues to be my favorite character because she’s learning to become a warrior without sacrificing her femininity, and characters like that seem so rare. There are also a handful of new characters, who I don’t quite trust. Dean Abelard is introduced as the head of Mystwerk House. She holds dinners during the school year that are reminiscent of the Slug Club from the Harry Potter series– only the most gifted students are invited, and they take turns teaching each other valuable lessons. I sense Dean Abelard is loyal only to herself, and she has a few tricks up her sleeve to ensure she comes out on top (a true Slytherin!). Then there is the mysterious mage, Crow, who is a master of illusions, and I’m dying to know his true identity.

My only issue with the Exiled Queen is the pacing, and that may be more of a result of preference than anything. During the first half of the book, both Han’s and Raisa’s parties were traveling through the realms. Of course they ran into trouble and excitement along the way, but I found myself wanting to fast forward to their adventures in boarding school instead. For someone who claims she loves traveling, I’m definitely not a huge fan of it in fantasy novels. Mostly, I just view it as an opportunity for retrospection and world building, but book one was full of that and I wanted more of the plot to be revealed. This does begin to happen near the end of the book, and I found myself staying up way past my bedtime…during the work week. The Exiled Queen ended with a cliffhanger, and it left me asking a million questions that I just know will be answered in the next installment of this series.

So far, the Seven Realms series is incredible, and if it’s not on your reading list, you should definitely add it– especially if you’re reluctant to read high fantasy books. I was too, but this series made the genre more approachable because Cinda Williams Chima created the perfect balance of world building and character development.

I won this book in a giveaway hosted by Proud Book Nerd

I Finally Finished Another Series: Twilight

[Warning: this post may contain spoilers]

I’ve done it! I’ve really done it! I have officially completed two entire series in my 26 years of existence. I spent the afternoon of Labor Day power reading the last 200 pages of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. And this GIF of Kristen Stewart sums up my feelings over losing several hours of my life to the book:

I avoided the Twilight saga for as long as possible. I had heard too much about the bland characters, the poor writing, and the sketchy romantic relationship to know that this was one book hype I should probably avoid. And! When Twilight hit the shelves, people compared its popularity to Harry Potter. As if it were even in the same league! But somehow, someone talked me into reading the series. I went in totally prepared to hate everything about it, but if I’m honest, I don’t actually hate the series. Not all of it, anyway.

 

When I read Twilight, I was surprised. Surprised by how much I didn’t dislike Bella and Edward and Jacob. Surprised by how easily I was swept up in the fantasy of Bella’s budding romance with a sparkling vampire. Surprised by how I did not want to put the book down– not even for Fallout 3, which I had just purchased that weekend, and this is kind of big deal. I ended up reading it in two days even though I’m a pretty slow reader. I was just…hooked! I mean, obviously I could tell the quality of story telling and character development wasn’t the greatest, but for some reason that didn’t even matter. Twilight has this junk food quality about it. I compare it to cookie dough, which is unhealthy, but I cannot help gobbling down spoonful after spoonful of it anyway.

New Moon made me even weaker in the knees. While Twilight focused on Bella and Edward’s relationship,  New Moon, focused on Bella and Jacob’s friendship, and I adored that. I freaking loved Jacob Black in New Moon– in all the books. I finished book two just as quickly as the first book. I had to because the second movie was hitting theaters, and I ended up dragging both my parents along to see the film.

Then, my love for the series ended abruptly. Eclipse happened, and I fell out of love with the series. Eclipse was so boring; I actually skipped nearly an entire chapter of this book because it could not hold my attention– the one where Bella is sitting about a campfire with Jacob and his family/friends, learning about shape shifters. I consider myself Team Jacob, but not even he could keep my attention during the info dump. To make matters worse, Bella turns into a jerk– she was over-compensating her faithfulness to Edward because she finally realized she had feelings for Jacob too.

I didn’t think it were possible, but I started to like Bella even less in Breaking Dawn. Edward too. Because they were just so, so mean. Their attitudes were so unappealing that I ended up putting the book down for two years. I regret doing that because the last 200 pages of the book were such a doozy; attempting to finish the book became a challenge. I ended up skim-reading to the end, but nothing really happened anyway. I thought it was going to be this battle royale– Cullens and Co. vs. the Volturi. I thought that’s what New Moon and Eclipse were building up to, but they just talked through their differences, and everyone lived happily ever after. It was anti-climactic. [Note: I actually saw Breaking Dawn part II in theaters before finishing the book, which was also a mistake because, while I liked the movie’s ending a little better than the book’s ending, it was still a “cop-out”, and this affected my attitude towards the book.]

I of course dragged my mom to see all the movies, and I think I preferred them to the books despite Kristen Stewart’s emotionless acting and all of the cheesy fight scenes. I liked the scenery and I loved the music. Also, I liked this guy and his abs:

Taylor Lautner, you are so dreamy.

 

Have you ever read the Twilight saga? Did you love it or did you hate it? Or, do you fall somewhere in the middle like myself?

Book Report: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Caster Chronicles #1)
Released:
December 2009
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Add to Goodreads
★★★★☆
Synopsis:
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

 

 My Thoughts

You guys, why didn’t you tell me how amazing Beautiful Creatures was? Oh wait, You did! I often talk about how book hype usually ruins books for me, but on this rare occasion it didn’t! In my opinion, Beautiful Creatures deserves all the rave reviews it’s received so far.

There is something so satisfying about Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. It was the setting that sucked me in first. The fictional town of Gatlin, South Carolina reminded me of hot and soggy summers spent in the woods and creek behind my house in northern Georgia. I half expected kudzu to creep and crawl from the pages of my book. Had the transmission in my car not gone kaput a month prior, I may have jumped in to my dodgy Ford Taurus and drove south for the winter. Next, I was immediately preoccupied by the lives of the people in small-town Gatlin. I wanted to stand in line at the corner store sipping sweet tea while nonchalantly listening in to gossips air their neighbor’s dirty laundry.

The characterization in Beautiful Creatures was near perfect. They all came alive almost effortlessly. The southern belles and their jock counterparts were a cause of friction that was written well. The mean girls/jock conflict might be overdone, but Garcia and Stohl’s approach is surprisingly refreshing. Perhaps because it reads more like a small town versus an outsider threatening what is comfortable rather than the mean, preppy girls versus the goth. The Sisters, with their batty ways were hilarious! But Amma, with her crossword obsession and her voodoo superstitions stole the show for me.

If the characters and the setting don’t suck you in, perhaps the point of view will. What a surprise it was to discover that this paranormal romance  was written almost entirely from a male’s point of view. When was the last time you read a book dealing with romantic elements from a guy’s perspective? It’s just not usually done, which makes this book even more outstanding. Ethan is more complicated than some high school horn dog. He struggles with parting himself from the small town mentality that his friends are trying to shove down his throat as he realizes he’s falling for mysterious and eccentric looking Lena. The romance that develops between the two is sweet and so reminiscent of what I remember of high school romances—holding hands and almost-kisses and wondering if you’ve really just fallen in…well, the “l-word”(because who knew saying “love” would be so anxiety inducing even though it’s kind of invigorating?). It’s such a nice break from overly dominant and manly teenage boys and submissive teenage girls.

The supernatural elements were a show-stopper as well. They were just plain, ol’ neat. I mean, we’re talking about controlling elements, shape shifting, seeing time, mind control, healing, and that’s only scratching the surface. But, that’s not all. There is also Amma who wards off bad spirits with voodoo charms and pleases dead ancestors with chicken and whiskey. There is a natural conflict that arises between the casters and Amma just as there is a conflict that arises between all of the mortals in Gatlin and the casters. It makes for some pretty suspenseful moments.

Beautiful Creatures would be perfect except for two issues that I had with the book. First, the book seemed long. I understand that it is long but so are Harry Potter books, and sometimes those don’t seem long enough! I don’t know if it was pacing or if certain events in the middle were dragged out a chapter too many or even if my anticipation for the events at the end made the book seem so long. Regardless, at some point, I lost my reading vigor because it seemed daunting. Now, on the flip side, it seemed like the ending was rushed! And it seemed like a few explanations were made up suddenly at the end to cover holes in logistics. Like, how is Ethan supposed to get from the Library back out the spooky mansion when they’re clear across town from each other? A perfectly rational supernatural explanation is offered even though no mention of such a thing was made when Ethan first visited the library.

Overall,
I LOVED Beautiful Creatures! The setting, the characters, and the point-of-view made the book a refreshing read. Especially in a genre that has exhausted shoddy love interests, vague characterization, and love triangles. Perhaps Beautiful Creatures was a little too satisfying though. I honestly felt Beautiful Creatures would have worked perfectly as a stand-alone novel. It tied things up nicely but left enough to the imagination. So, as much as I loved Beautiful Creatures, I’m not entirely convinced I want to continue on with the series. Conflicting, eh? I’m not sure book two can live up to its predecessor. If I’m way wrong, please tell me in the comments!

Book Report: The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (Infernal Devices #1)
Released:
August 2010
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Add to Goodreads
★☆☆☆☆
Synopsis:
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

My Thoughts

There were two things I liked about The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare– Church, a cat adopted by the Shadowhunters at the end of the book, and Jem (James), one of Tessa’s love interests (supposedly, but more on that later). The rest was mediocre at best if not just downright boring. 479 pages isn’t that long, but 479 pages of The Clockwork Angel took me five months to plow through.

The beginning was interesting enough. I was mildly intrigued by Tessa’s supernatural ability. And I was even more intrigued by the Dark Sisters, their icky lifestyle, and their desire to please this Magister fellow. Who is he? I wanted to know! (I’ll admit, when his identity was revealed, I was pleasantly surprised).  But then, chapters 3 through 20 happened. As much as I wanted to throw the book down like I did with Heart of Darkness, I couldn’t because I spent my hard-earned money on a hardback copy of the book. I kept hoping that there would be some redeeming quality by the end of the book (besides Church, the cat) that would have made it all worthwhile. But, at the end of my reading experience, I was left wishing I could have had my lunch breaks back to spend doing something more interesting…like taking a working lunch to organize my filing cabinets.

First, the pacing is all off in this book. There are maybe one or two interesting and action packed scenes in The Clockwork Angel (ie. where vampires died and stuff), but everything else seemed to drag on for chapters. Anything interesting was but a blip amongst 479 pages of boring and stuffy writing. Just, not a whole lot happened. Really.

I also found it difficult to immerse myself in the world that Clare created. It’s Victorian England with a vaguely steampunk aesthetic, but the title and the cover might suggest otherwise. Don’t be mislead like I was. There were only two things I found remotely steampunk.

  1. The clockwork angel necklace Tessa wears. In all honesty though, you’ll probably forget all about this trinket until the very last chapter of the book. Nevermind that it’s the title of the book.
  2. The automatons. These automatons are jokes though because MAGIC and the full moon bring them to life, not…well, anything remotely mechanical or scientific.

It’s like Clare discovered Steampunk was popular and thus a viable money source, so she adhered some cogs and brass to the pages of her book and called it good. If you have the audacity to try to pass this off as steampunk, at least give us something more. Like zeppelins or something.

Zeppelin LZ 4 or Led Zeppelin. You pick, either will suffice.

Zeppelin LZ 4 or Led Zeppelin. You pick, either will suffice.

I found the characters to be annoying as well (sans Jem and Church, mind you). Tessa was annoyingly prudent and proper, and all she seemed to do was slander England. Will was an asshole, so naturally the female main character pines for him. Jessamine could have been interesting because she seemed like the only character who had a valid internal struggle. Unfortunately, she acted like a spoiled and superficial brat. As for the rest of the characters? I can’t even remember their names. Or their personalities. Or their involvement with the story line! I think the characters in this book were one-dimensional caricatures rather than a character with any sort of depth. I’m pretty sure there was a tinkerer whose experiments always went awry [EDIT: Yes there was. His name was Henry Branwell].

Finally the romance. The Goodreads summary suggests there is some quality, love triangle action going on in The Clockwork Angel. And maybe this is expanded upon in later books. But, I’m not even spoiling the story for you by saying there isn’t one iota of a love triangle going on in this book. That should be a good thing, right? Instead, Tessa pines for Will Herondale, the book’s biggest jerk, and she immediately friendzones Jem. For shame, Tessa! Will has a shady past that he uses as an excuse to put up his guard. He’s just mean to the other characters in the book, especially Tessa. Jem has a shady past to, but he’s open and honest about it with Tessa. And he’s a really kind, caring, and genuine individual. I wonder why the female main characters never fawn over the guy I would. It leads me to believe that some authors have really poor taste in men. Someone, please explain to me what’s so romantic about a jerk who makes you question your worth. Why is this even trendy?

Overall,
I didn’t like the book. And that really sucks because I’m genuinely interested to learn why Will is such a shifty character and what kind of supernatural being is Tessa. Do they have Cliffsnotes for this? Read…at your own risk. I didn’t like this book, but other people do. Take this book review from Truly Bookish– she says the exact opposite of what I do! But, if you’re a fan of the Mortal Instruments series, approach The Infernal Devices with caution. From what I’ve read on Goodreads, there are many people who loved the Mortal Instruments series but hated the Infernal Devices because it was too similar to the series they adored first.

I’m sad that this is my introduction to Cassandra Clare. So many book bloggers, nay readers, out there seem to adore her characters and the world she created. Maybe I just started with the wrong book. Tell me, should I take a chance and give Clare’s Mortal Instrument series a try?