I did not expect to like this. It was the third vampire book I read in a week. Hey, I was at the beach.
Anyway, I was not sure I would like it at all...moreI did not expect to like this. It was the third vampire book I read in a week. Hey, I was at the beach.
Anyway, I was not sure I would like it at all because by the time I started into the first chapter I felt like I was kind of over it. The whole vampire thing, I mean.
Also, the writing style is so very... modern. At times it reminded me of being a senior in the English department, plowing my way through technically 'edgy' essays and reading the efforts of my fellow students as they tried too hard to be too cool.
But hey, check out those four stars I gave it! That's because I loved it. After a few chapters, my fascination with vampires was renewed. That is really the main positive thing that this book did for me. It took a topic that I used to love (vampires) but was starting to regard as tired and boring and made it totally interesting again. It took me back to childhood memories when vampires were actually terrifying. When my older cousin woke up crying because she dreamt a vampire was in her room. When we used to sleep holding our covers up right below our chins to hide our necks.
This book made me remember that I used to be frightened of vampires. As a child, that is.
I grew up and they got all sexy, rather than dangerous, and tortured rather than downright evil.
Dracula still retains some of that sensuality, but he's more monster than man and that was the main appeal of the book. Once you throw out all the 'romance' associated with this diabolical figure in history you are left with someone very twisted and very scary. It was just raw and felt so real that I was personally in danger of paranoia.
So much of the story takes place in the solid, real world. The 'fantasy' world of the book is built on the same history, the same prejudices and rational of the real world. The vampire myth is offered up with all the fascinating history and religious baggage of Europe held on its shoulders. I loved the history aspects of the book and the careful, deliberate and at times even tedious delicacy with which each piece of evidence was revealed.
It has the subtlety of the best scary stories, it feels like there is a lot of action going on, even though, in retrospect, we (as the readers) were not present during most of the gritty action sequences, vampire attacks, suicide attempts etc... we hear about a lot of that stuff through being told by the characters after the fact. Still, it works.
This book is definitely not for everyone. I felt as if I was chest-deep in detail, or even in danger of asphyxiation, at times. The pacing is slow. Intentionally. It helps that the perspective switches so often, but it is still a whole lot of reading about people reading.
The cultural themes helped to paint the story with richness and vibrancy that is positively charming. The romantic parts of the book were refreshingly dignified and classy. Love is portrayed with realistic innocence and awe, in fact all the relationships in the book are layered with gritty realistic secrets and disagreements and idiosyncrasies as well as deep spiritual and personal ties. The characters are flawed but entirely lovable, they follow you around for a while after you shut the book. (less)
Lemme start out by saying I haven't read and don't know ANYTHING about Cassandra Clare's other books (September 2011 amendment. YES I HAVE! I didn't r...moreLemme start out by saying I haven't read and don't know ANYTHING about Cassandra Clare's other books (September 2011 amendment. YES I HAVE! I didn't realize at the time that this is THAT Cassandra Claire, who wrote the very secret diaries that made me laugh until I seriously had tears streaming down my face and couldn't breathe, and I might have choked on some gum and needed to be resuscitated. Being a fourteen year old teenage girl was really, really great, for that one year. What a priceless sleepover. The Very Secret Diaries (LOTR) were fanfiction, but geez... they were excellent for what they were; very silly, very raunchy, spleen bursting ridiculousness.) I didn't know anything about her published work, except that some of them have something to do with the same world of Clockwork Angel, but in modernish day times? Maybe? I'm purposefully trying not to find out too much in detail. I read this book as a tiny innocent thing of innocence with no prior knowledge of the other series and I don't really plan on reading the other books until I finish with this prologue series first. Right now. I might change my mind. I reserve the right to do so, at least.
Overall, I was really pleased. The most charming thing about the book is the funfunfun dialogue and the characters. The story itself was interesting. I only have one real complaint which is that when Mortmain first came on the scene and gave them information I thought he seemed like too flabby of a red herring and decided that he was properly secretly the big baddy bad guy and then I thought "Nah, give her some credit, she'll do something more interesting. That's dumb."
But... you know... she didn't. That did actually turn out to be the twist and I saw it coming and I was sad about that, because right when the Dark Sisters turned up all necromantic and creepy I thought of an alternative twist that I liked much better. I got really excited about my idea that Magnus Bane was the real Magister and that Mortmain and de Quincey and even Camille were all just his puppets, like maybe de Quincey was going for a power grab, so Magnus used Mortmain and the Shadowhunters to get double revenge and take care of all his enemies in a few, arms-length schemes... I don't know WHY I got so attached to this idea in just the few short pages before the truth all tumbled out. I think it was because I felt like there was something so great and mysterious about Tessa's adventure as Camille. Perhaps Magnus knew that Camille would be able to hide some things from Tessa, or maybe she didn't really know enough about Magnus. He led them right into the library and plus there was the creepy Camille memories. Like maybe he just wanted to get close to Tessa for a minute in the process. Magnus was so subtle. Mortmain went out of his way to be suspicious.
I don't know. None of that turned out to be what was going on, which was disappointing by the time I figured out that Mortmain really was the big baddie.
So, there's my only real complaint. (Just kidding, I also didn't like the last page) we got some set up, so a little hintsie wincie about the next bit and instead it was just a tease. The door shut on us and I was like, "Cheap."
But mostly it was that whole Mortmain thing. I had this whole other ending in my head and it was getting kind of epic and then I had to come back to reality, where the idea I'd already dismissed as too obvious turned out to be real, in all it's anticlimactiosity. Too bad.
However, I love a book that makes me laugh out-loud. I love steam-punk aesthetic and clever, clever heroines who are vulnerable and relatable and love books and have to get saved at the beginning, but by the end they learn how to rescue themselves. Even if they fake their deaths to do it. That was awesome. Can I just say? Favorite!
Also, I was actually surprised that Nathan turned out to be such a little twisted weasel after all. I figured that he had probably been cowardly and neglectful of his sister to a somewhat forgivable degree and I even wondered if he was going to betray her, but I had not correctly gadged to what extent. He hadn't just tripped off the deep end accidentally, he took a diving leap and it shocked me and I sort of loved every minute of it.
As your typical rakish hero Will grew on me and I decided that he was legitimately charming in certain scenes. At first I sort of gagged a bit to myself and hoped I wasn't going to have to endure a few hundred pages of our main chica mooning over this creep, but even his creepiness worked for him. Eventually. Jem. What's not to like? What a fine sympathetic young man. I wanted Thomas to get more screen time, but that didn't work out... I liked the fun bite-sized pieces of everyone's backstory.
So... I'm terrified to continue the series though. I've got high hopes. I want this to progress and really go somewhere. I want the characters to grow and change and not just march in teenage circles, gazing longingly at each other. I'm worried those hopes will be dashed to little bits...
I will not be ruled by fear. I will procure the next book (when it comes out in December) and continue.(less)
**spoiler alert** Saw it coming, but who cares?! I still loved every minute of it.
I even went into reading it with pretty high expectations, something...more**spoiler alert** Saw it coming, but who cares?! I still loved every minute of it.
I even went into reading it with pretty high expectations, something I should have learned not to do a long time ago, but in this case, I was really pleased overall with the story. All of my complaints are minor details. Stela doesn't ever sound five years old to me, for example.
Maybe I'm prejudiced, because The Twelve Dancing Princesses is my very favorite fairy tale of all time and I have wanted to read a good novelization of it for ages. I didn't know that this was based on that fairy tale when I started reading it, so naturally I flipped when I figured it out. Very, very exciting for me:) Other fairy tales I love include the one mentioned near the end of the novel (Catskin, Donkeyskin, Bearskin, Allerleirauh, The King Who Wished to Marry His Daughter--or whatever other names it goes by... Sapsorrow, I love you John Hurt.) anyway, I'm not usually big on Historical Fantasy, but its growing on me recently.
I think my irritation with modern day teenage protagonists is the total lack of responsibility in modern teenage life. These girls may be young but they have a lot of people depending on them and a household to take care of. They are mature in all the best ways, yet because they are young they lack experience in romance and are silly enough to still think its a good idea to go off dancing with the fairies. Awesome. They are just the right amount of childish, meaning not very.
I found all the sisters likable in their own way. I found myself feeling for everyone actually, including Cezar, even though he was a fool and tyrant. The balance between the provincial and difficult life of Transylvanias and the wondrous world of fey was well done. I felt like I understood why each character made every choice that they did and even if I might have done something else, I couldn't begrudge them their agency because it made perfect sense that they would do it.
Costi, I figure all along was secretly the frog. That came as no surprise. Another minor complaint that I had was that once he changes back all the sisters kind of admitted they they wondered, and I think maybe we could have had them speculating even earlier in the story. Jena says that she had kissed him before and nothing happened. Which was a question I had since page one. I've always kissed my pets. Everyone I know who has pets kisses them. So I wondered if Jena had ever kissed her frog affectionately, the way pretty much everyone does. Then she chooses after he turns back to mention that's she's kissed him repeatedly and he never turned into a prince. That could have been a moment of comic relief, actually, if they had brought that up near the very beginning of the novel when Gogu is first introduced. It might have made me giggle whereas having it after the fact just served as a kind of "Oh. I wondered." moment.
The movie in my mind was like if Jim Henson Company and Peter Jackson got together. Labyrinth/Lord of the Rings aesthetic. Mmmm. Gorgeous.
Speaking of Lord of the Rings, I wouldn't have minded if the book was a few hundred pages longer. There were a couple of times that I lamented that we stayed so tightly in Jena's perspective. Since there was so much going on with the other characters in the book, it might have been cool to see what was up with them when Jena wasn't around. Also, it ended so quickly... I immediately wanted more.
On a final note: second cousin love = sooo cute.(less)
I was so charmed by the pretty writing and description and detail that I got several hundred pages in before I realized I wasn't enjoying the story. I...moreI was so charmed by the pretty writing and description and detail that I got several hundred pages in before I realized I wasn't enjoying the story. I enjoyed the writing, but the story was... Meh. There's really no other way to put it. Satire is fine in small doses, but after several hundred pages I start to sigh and roll my eyes until I find myself grumbling "Geez, Lewis, it's not that bad."
Yes. That's right. I am indeed one of those ignorant and closed-minded G.P. locals. I like bridge. I like housework. Communism has repeated failed and I worry about people who keep trying the same experiment over and over again, expecting a different result. Violence and war actually is the answer sometimes, and not just when the question is, "what's not the answer?"... Lucia Di Lammermoor is my favorite. I think there's something to be said for practicality and prudence taking precedence over making something pretty and charming. You can spend a lot of money making something beautiful, or you can use that same cash to help with the essentials of life that some people lack. You're a doll Carrie, but I couldn't back you up on your crusade very passionately, I'm afraid.
Not that I disagree on all accounts. Change is good, change is inevitable. I understand about persuading people the change their whole lives. I was a missionary, after all and the best lesson I learned is that you will never persuade people to see that they are ignorant/living below their potential etc. if you just beat them over the head with your opinions. Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. (Cute right?)
It's true though. You'll never help make people better, help them make good changes, until you love them. Until you see what is beautiful about who they already are. There's always room for improvement, but Carrie wasn't looking to improve, she wanted to rip the whole thing out and start over. Carrie didn't really love anyone or anything that she wanted to change. It was all ugly and stupid and she told it so. Then she wondered why it was recalcitrant?
Oh, Carol... Poor thing.
Like with Robinson Crusoe I find pages and pages of tedium; counting, farming stats etc. and then like a line about being a slave for years. (I'm exaggerating, it's not that bad in Main Street, but there was definitely a similar vibe).
That's the whole point though. A lot of style and a lot of pretty, pretty, pretty, but underneath, what's really going on? Well done, Lewis. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of this book. It made me think and reflect and meditate and marinate and that's, I'm pretty sure, what you had in mind. (less)