**spoiler alert** I wish Goodreads had a 1/2 star rating system, because I'd like to give this book 3.5 stars. A lot of my ratings are halfs, but I ro...more**spoiler alert** I wish Goodreads had a 1/2 star rating system, because I'd like to give this book 3.5 stars. A lot of my ratings are halfs, but I round up or down and that's how I end up with so many 4 star books. With this book, I chose to round down because these intelligent characters whom you've grown to appreciate for three books spend nearly the entire novel being stupid.
It begins pretty much where we've left off with the other Mortal Instruments novels, which I'm not going to go back and review because, suffice to say, if I didn't enjoy them, I wouldn't have finished the series. Unfortunately, in this novel, Clary is suddenly a more annoying and Jace more frustrating than in the prior novels. Jace I can sort of rationalize away (but WHY must he be so slow to realize EVERYTHING?), but Clary I cannot. The saving grace, character-wise, is the new focus on Simon's importance, which makes up for the fact that there is less face-time for my other favorite characters (Magnus, Isabelle, even Luke).
This is one of those books that is full of twists, but the twists are all so predictable. Oh, Valentine lied? Wow, he's the antagonist - who knew? Oh, Sebastian lied? Wow, he was hiding something from the first, not surprised. Oh, Clary has an important power? She's the protagonist; what did you expect? I enjoyed the subplots (particularly the Alec/Magnus sides) and the writing style far more than I enjoyed the actual plot of the story. That's not as much fun, not to be a downer.
The one thing I did find really interesting were the humanizing details added to Valentine. Between his interactions with his two "sons" and the description of him provided by Jocelyn's monologue, he begins to become a well-rounded human as opposed to a villainous villain. I liked it, because it's so rare in these good v. evil stories. Usually, it's very much "I was good once and now I'm evil. RAWR!" I give Clare credit for that.
Other than that, this book reminds me of the first part of a trilogy. Very often, those first parts are written strictly as a setup, and feel very dry and introductory in that sense. That's how City of Glass feels, except in reverse: it's a conclusion to a romance between its main characters. I find that unfortunate, because Clare's world is so rich. It's about politics, war, and family, and yet I didn't feel the importance of those things because they're all layered under Clary's (I'm trying to find a word to describe them other than annoying) feelings.
Was that harsh? I didn't mean it to be. It's just, I wanted to love this, and I just liked it.(less)
I picked up this book when I was young, and I just couldn't make it through it then. I think the difference between then and now is that I've spent mu...moreI picked up this book when I was young, and I just couldn't make it through it then. I think the difference between then and now is that I've spent much more time with my Puerto Rican relatives since then, and I can much more clearly understand now. Esmeralda Santiago's story is intense though, and perhaps I had too much intensity happening in my life at the time to handle it.
Intense or not, Santiago describes a rich life and culture that I think anyone with Puerto Rican relatives would recognize - even me, and I have only been there twice in my life. When she describes the sun and the rain and the plants, I see them too, and I remember the way warm rain feels on your skin. I love her transcriptions of English with an accent: "I no guan seven gray." And I can taste the alcapurrias and coquito when she describes them.
The story she tells contains happy times, but even more so, it's full of the hard truths and realizations that come with growing up (which is painful and/or uncomfortable, more often than not). She describes how it feels moving or changing schools, and everyone who ever had to move can understand that awkward feeling. Her parents lie to her and hide things, and my heart reaches out to her. Her past is particularly full of betrayals and confusion, including one I can recognize: just when you think you're learning who you are, you're moved into a whole new game and you have to learn what you'll become all over again. It takes a lot of courage to tell the story of your family, and I really admired the honesty she put into it. I look forward to reading more books from her in the future.(less)
I feel like this is a book that I will need to read again. It took me a very long time to get into it at first. I couldn't understand why, either: the...moreI feel like this is a book that I will need to read again. It took me a very long time to get into it at first. I couldn't understand why, either: the premise was interesting, the chapters were short and episodic, the subject is one with which we should all be familiar. Then, suddenly, after more than 100 pages, I was hooked. I don't even remember how, but I was.
Thanks to the not-always-linear narrative style, many points are "spoiled" long before they happen, but I didn't feel spoiled. I felt like my interest had been piqued and I needed to know how the characters or events had gotten to that point. The characters are real, with faults that make you roll your eyes, groan, or even yell (yes, I yelled at Hans). At the same time they're still based on classic archetypes, and are just so very lovable (which is why I yelled at Hans). And I think this was why I was able to keep reading, even though I didn't feel like I was getting anywhere at first. So I did keep reading.
In fact, I kept reading until 12:30 last night, when I finally stopped crying and closed the last page. I may need time to recover before I go through it again, but I really, really enjoyed this book. I plan on recommending it to at least one other person, and when I finally get back into teaching grade school kids, it's going on my classroom shelf.(less)
(Apologies if you read this twice. Goodreads glitched out my original review, so I think it has ceased to exist.)
So I ate this book.
I began reading it...more(Apologies if you read this twice. Goodreads glitched out my original review, so I think it has ceased to exist.)
So I ate this book.
I began reading it on the plane yesterday from Florida to DC. I almost literally could not put it down for anything. I carried it to work in case I had a few minutes between workshops today. I pulled it out while I dried my hair, and considered ditching my friend for lunch so I could read more. I breezed through it and finished it tonight. I have my Amazon opened in the next tab, waiting for me to order the rest of the series (How am I going to wait for this to arrive?).
I am perfectly aware the premise is not completely original. Battle Royale? Lord of the Flies? Yes, I am familiar with these stories. Collins still manages to take the concept and make me love it in a way I never loved those. I was completely moved to tears and whimpering by the first few chapters of the book. I only kept from sobbing outright by the fact that I was on a plane with a hundred other people. The characters also captivated me, even when they were "off screen" - is Peeta sincere about his feelings? Is Katniss? What about Gale? What does Prim feel about seeing her sister as part of all of this? How will Katniss and Peeta handle being mentors? Plus, I just found the story very well-paced, keeping me turning every page with anticipation.
There were a few flaws with the book, of course. A few times the descriptions felt a little bit cheesy, usually when centered on clothes or food (my dressed glowed and glittered and swirled around me, yadda yadda). I also felt a few times that the whole point of these games, the fact that they are entirely based on children killing one another, was oversimplified and/or glossed over sometimes. Just sometimes, not completely, which I suppose is due to the fact that this is a young adult novel and the intensity and tragedy of such depths might be a bit much for the younger end of that audience. I can forgive Collins for that, especially since she leaves enough traces of them that the ready reader can gather them up from between the lines to ponder. "It must be hell to mentor two kids and then watch them die. Year after year after year." For me, that was one of the most poignant moments in the entire book.
I'm going to leave it at that to save something for the book club meeting, and because I'm still coming off the high of reading it. But I think the finishing it in two days (plus the five-star review, plus the already gushing over it to multiple people) speaks for itself.
**spoiler alert** This book resonated with me in so many ways. It's not just because I'm half Puerto Rican, but even more because it's so much about l...more**spoiler alert** This book resonated with me in so many ways. It's not just because I'm half Puerto Rican, but even more because it's so much about learning who you are when you're straddling two cultures. And no matter where I've lived, I've always done so. I found it absolutely fascinating, a little heartbreaking, and even beautiful at times. I began Post-It tabbing lines soon after I started the book, and by the end I'd tabbed so much that I'm too embarrassed to take a photo and show people. It's intense.
I also happen to really like Esmeralda Santiago's writing style. It's descriptive, detailed, and flows in a way that makes me think of when I first learned to read in Spanish. At the same time, it's not heavy, and I can still find points of self-awareness and objectivity that make me smile, or ponder. I'm looking forward to discussing this book at ER next week - and also, to reading the next volume of Santiago's memoirs!(less)
**spoiler alert** If I ate The Hunger Games, I basically swallowed this book whole. I finished it in a single day. I didn't love it quite as much as t...more**spoiler alert** If I ate The Hunger Games, I basically swallowed this book whole. I finished it in a single day. I didn't love it quite as much as the first book, perhaps because this one is darker and angrier. Also, it felt a bit forced for Katniss and Peeta to have to re-enter the arena. That being said, I still loved it, especially with more from Cinna (LOVE Cinna) and Gale and District 12. And I'm already onto the next book. Honestly, I'll get back to my life eventually.(less)
**spoiler alert** Wow. I'm not even sure where to begin. Seriously, this is my third start to this review. I took a literature class in college in whi...more**spoiler alert** Wow. I'm not even sure where to begin. Seriously, this is my third start to this review. I took a literature class in college in which the professor discussed at length lines in the The Iliad that stress "the cost of war." While reading Mockingjay, that phrase kept running through my head over and over again. This is what Suzanne Collins's series is truly about: the losses Katniss not only suffers directly, but those she witnesses the people around her battling... often with devastating results. Collins has taken her stories and built them so well that in this conclusion, you feel those losses over and over again, just as deeply as she does. It's horrifying and cruel and it's painful to the point that I had to stop reading for an hour tonight just to gather the courage to read the last forty pages.
Strangely, I was never afraid that Katniss wouldn't survive the trilogy. She was often not as strong, not as clever, not even as likable as I would want her to be - but she's real and she's good, and I believe in both those things. It was the other characters I fretted and worried about, and often cried for, as well. I read the last couple of chapters with tears in my eyes. But it's good writing that can make you feel, make you afraid to keep reading.
I can't lie, this is a dark book and a dark series. Even at the end, it doesn't wrap everything up in a pretty bow - but again, it's real and it says a lot about Collins and her characters that it goes where it does. It's not something I'd recommend for someone who doesn't want to spend their next two days reading frantically, either. But do I recommend it? Oh yes.(less)
**spoiler alert** This book was a fun read and easy to blow through quickly - which is good, as it had a hold on it at the library. I had trouble at f...more**spoiler alert** This book was a fun read and easy to blow through quickly - which is good, as it had a hold on it at the library. I had trouble at first because I didn't actually feel like I was reading a tale of Victorian England, but I can easily recognize it as an "alternate Victorian England" at least. The plot, I am very happy to say, was not nearly as like City of Bones as I worried it would be. It's exciting and mysterious, but the twists are slightly different. Like the description of England, it was reminiscent without being the same - and I suppose that was the goal, so good job, Clare!
I wish I could say the same of the characters. I felt they were extremely similar to the characters from The Mortal Instruments series, and it bothered me quite a bit. It wasn't that I didn't realize there would be similarities; however, I hoped the characters would be different enough to not be carbon copies of the originals, and Will and Tessa nearly are. It makes their actions a little too predictable for my taste. I would think, Well, of course Tessa will fall in love with Will! That's what Clary would do. And of course, Will is going to push her away at first. That's what Jace would do. It takes all the surprise out of the actions, though the plot is fortunately fascinating enough to keep interest more than alive.
Also, I am particularly a fan of Jem, not going to lie.
Overall, I would recommend it for fans of Clare's other books, and even new readers, and I'm looking forward to the release of The Clockwork Prince.(less)
I had a hard time getting into this book at first, most likely because I've seen the film (and my reading has not been up to par lately). Eventually I...moreI had a hard time getting into this book at first, most likely because I've seen the film (and my reading has not been up to par lately). Eventually I came to quite enjoy it. Beagle can be a very witty writer (secret judo holds!), and his imagery is unique as well as vivid. The tale itself is set up as a classic fairy tale, but it does contain some darker elements that wouldn't be suitable for some children. A good fantasy read.(less)
**spoiler alert** I've got to admit that I found this book difficult to begin. It took me a while to get past the first third of it, I'd say. There wa...more**spoiler alert** I've got to admit that I found this book difficult to begin. It took me a while to get past the first third of it, I'd say. There was just enough mystery, however, to keep me going. Once I made it past, I found myself intrigued by many of the mysteries laid out by the authors. Obviously, Cat is a Childe, but what is that? What does that mean for her? Who are the people that want her and for what? What are her parents and Isaac's parents, and everyone's parents? Why doesn't Cat catch on that her parents are at a meeting every single night and that's not really normal?
Anyway, I am a sucker for intrigue, and that there is aplenty in this book. It's essentially a set-up for the story or stories to follow, so there are many questions left unanswered, which might be frustrating to a reader (not a reader like me). I did feel frustrated that the book appeared to need more editing, which did hamper my reading toward the beginning, but I can't imagine that anyone's first novel is perfect.
Once I put that aside, the story was fairly engaging, and the characters are cute enough. I say cute because this is clearly a young adult novel, and the characters are a fairly quirky and nice group of teens (a nice change from the spoiled teens I'm always seeing on TV). Cat is not the quickest cookie in the jar*, but it would probably be a much shorter book if she were, and she is likable and interesting. I will look with interest for the next book when it comes.
I just re-read this, but I had already done so a few years ago so I'm not counting it toward my 2011 books. I'd forgotten how intense some parts of it...moreI just re-read this, but I had already done so a few years ago so I'm not counting it toward my 2011 books. I'd forgotten how intense some parts of it were, but still a fun read.(less)
**spoiler alert** City of Fallen Angels reminds me of everything I enjoyed about Cassandra Clare when I first began this series. Her set-up is great a...more**spoiler alert** City of Fallen Angels reminds me of everything I enjoyed about Cassandra Clare when I first began this series. Her set-up is great and her characters are likable, if neurotic. And oh, how I love Magnus (Alec too, but Magnus just makes me smile happily).
I mention set-up because I really enjoyed that about this novel. The suspense in the plot was just tangible enough that I knew in which direction it was going, but just mysterious enough that I didn't have my fingers on all the details. It truly made me want to continue reading and find out which little bits I was missing.
The characters continue to be enjoyable as well. Clary and Jace's love story fell more to the background for a lot of this story, which I completely approve of, as Jace's possession made him about as irritating and whiny as Harry Potter in Order of the Phoenix. I quite liked how, in its place, Simon's plot line took on a greater focus. I certainly hope he continues to be a major player, rather than a subplot, as I think he's far more interesting than any of those uppity Shadowhunters give him credit for being. Of course, I know he will, but I will add that I love how his relationship with Isabelle adds to the development and progression of her character.
One thing I realized in this book is how even the decisions Clare makes that I disapprove of - such as killing fifty babies, many humans, the biting, murder, and turning of Maureen, and the death of Max (no, I'm still not over it) - really do add to the horror and darkness of the story (and even some realism if that exists in a fantasy world), which in turn add to my desire to finish the series. It's so often hard for me to accept decisions that are not covered with unicorns and puppies (as my boyfriend tells me) when it affects characters for whom I care. I do hope that eventually these sixteen-year-olds will all grow up and realize they all deserve to be loved by the people who love them. In the meantime, I'll keep reading.(less)
**spoiler alert** I actually liked this book far better than the first, and I'm beginning to like it a little better than Clare's other series. Now, t...more**spoiler alert** I actually liked this book far better than the first, and I'm beginning to like it a little better than Clare's other series. Now, that isn't to say the similarities have disappeared, because they haven't. But now Tessa is beginning to take on more of her own personality, and I think I like it a bit better than Clary's. I definitely love Jem and Magnus and Charlotte. Fantastic characters.
The plot was interesting, in that I expected a slow build-up to the usual Shadowhunter blow-out, and instead it was a long slow fuse to a more mellow showdown. Everything turned out pretty much the way it should, though, and I was fairly satisfied at the end. Looking forward to the next installment!(less)