If you're not familiar with Cassandra Clare, fanfiction-author turned YA novelist, or the Mortal Instruments series, I suggest that you remedy that asIf you're not familiar with Cassandra Clare, fanfiction-author turned YA novelist, or the Mortal Instruments series, I suggest that you remedy that as soon as possible. Pick of "City of Bones" and settle in for demons, magic, good vs. evil, and, of course, a heaping dose of forbidden romance. Then come back and read this review.
"City of Lost Souls" is the fifth novel in the Mortal Instruments series, and it was such a relief after the (unnecessary) drama of "City of Fallen Angels." The pacing was much better than usual, with a nice balance between action and calm or funny moments- something this author has struggled with in the past.
The story opens with the disappearance of Jace and Sebastian after Lilith's evil ceremony. The Clave is in an uproar; not over Jace, but over Mr-I'm-so-evil-I-probably-hate-kittens, presumed-dead-but-apparently-not, Sebastian. What does he want? What will he do to carry on his evil father's legacy of evil?
Soon, though, the Clave has bigger things to worry about, and our heroes must find Jace on their own. When they do, they also discover that Jace has been soul-bound to Sebastian against his will; whatever Sebastian thinks, Jace will think, and whatever Sebastian wants, Jace will do. And just in case you forgot, Sebastian is Evil McEvilpants. Poor Jace. If it's not thing with him, it's another, which is apparently what he gets for being the male love interest.
I felt like a lot of characters came into their own (FINALLY) in this novel. Clary has no doubts about her ability to save Jace, and it was such a great development to see them interact without a lot of dithering or wibbling. Admittedly, it's a little bit pathetic that the healthiest part of their relationship took place while Jace was under an evil spell, but, whatever. Clary's never been a weak character, but I was happy to see her take action without second-guessing herself. I was absolutely thrilled to see positive growth between Isabelle & Simon, and Jordan & Maia. On the one hand, the plot's getting a little clogged with characters. On the other, at least all those characters aren't miserable. Alec and Magnus, though, struggle here. As their relationship grows more serious, Magnus' immortality becomes an obstacle. The way that Alec chooses to deal with it is...well, stupid and teenager-y and believable, more's the pity.
And then there's My-Soul-is-as-Black-as-My-Eyes, Sebastian. What to do with you, Sebastian? I hated him in the previous novels, but the author finally succeeds in making him a (teeny) bit sympathetic here. Is it his fault that his father infused him with demon blood when he was just a baby? No. Did he have parents who loved him, who stood by him and tried to help him? Definitely no. But at the same time, he's just so evil-with-a-side-of-smarmyness. In "City of Lost Souls" we finally see Sebastian partaking in some activities that aren't completely filled with evil. The scenes between Sebastian, Jace, and Clary are probably the highlight of the novel, especially towards the end. I almost wanted them to go on having their little group of not-as-evil-as-possible, fighting demons and eating breakfast and going to fairy raves. Alas, 'twas not to be. I'm not sure where the author can go with Sebastian in the next novel. I'd hate to see him get killed off, but I feel like it would be a cop-out if he were to be somehow redeemed.
There's plenty of time before the next novel comes out, so go out, read the first five, and let me know what you think!
I absolutely loved Nancy Werlin's "Impossible," so I was completely let down by "Extraordinary." The main character, from the very beginning of the stI absolutely loved Nancy Werlin's "Impossible," so I was completely let down by "Extraordinary." The main character, from the very beginning of the story, is completely unbelievable. I just couldn't buy the thirteen-year old girl lecturing her friend on the importance of a childhood. I kept reading, and honestly didn't find any of the characters very likable. It's not often that I don't finish a book, but I had to set this one aside....more
Shadowbloom had a fantastic premise, and it was free for the Kindle, so I snatched it up. Upon reading, however, turns out that it's... less than fanShadowbloom had a fantastic premise, and it was free for the Kindle, so I snatched it up. Upon reading, however, turns out that it's... less than fantastic. Twin siblings Axton and Aniva, lost their parents in a mysterious car crash thirteen years before. The first turn-off for me was the characterization of the twins, which is completely flat; Axton, the studious, klutzy, dorky-but-sweet brother, and Aniva, the loud-mouthed, snotty, physically fit, adventurous sister. (Also, their names, seriously. What's the deal with those names?). Each twin receives a Mysterious Vision after being bitten by an equally Mysterious & Aggressive Venus Fly Trap. The vision seems to indicate that their Long-Lost Parents may have been rescued by (who else) a Mysterious Woman. Being teenagers, Axton and Aniva immediately rush off to the site of their parent's car crash, and are somehow Mysteriously Transported to a Garden where the plants are strangely life-like. They encounter a group of people living in the Garden, all of whom seem to know what's going on, but are strangely reluctant to talk about it. Mystery is to be had, cryptic remarks are made, and the resolution to the climax is spelled out within the first 20% of the book. Which is about where I stopped reading....more
Heather Dixon’s Entwined completely makes up for the disappointment of the last YA book I read. It was lovely; highly character-driven, with an intereHeather Dixon’s Entwined completely makes up for the disappointment of the last YA book I read. It was lovely; highly character-driven, with an interesting retelling of an unfamiliar fairy tale and a menacing villain.
Entwined reworks the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, with which I was fairly unfamiliar. Azalea and her eleven sisters love to dance- it’s the only outlet they have from “Royal Duties.” When their mother dies giving birth, however, they’re plunged into strict mourning; black dresses, silence, and absolutely no dancing.
Generations ago, Azalea’s ancestor, the Captain-General, overthrew the High King D’eathe, a sorcerer who, among other things, liked to murder his subjects and steal their souls (charming!). Over the centuries, most of his evil work has been purged from the kingdom and the castle, but pockets remain, hidden and unnoticed. One of these pockets leads Azalea to a hidden garden, where she and her sisters can dance every night, under the eyes of Keeper, a tortured soul imprisoned by the High King and long forgotten. But, as the book blurb says, “there is a cost. The Keeper likes to “keep” things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.”
However, this isn’t just a fairy tale about twelve girls fighting an Evil Menace, which is what saves it from being “just another YA book.” One of my favorite plot points was the girls’ developing relationship with their father, who has been a distant figure all their lives. After their mother’s death, he immediately heads to the war front. The sisters see this as an abandonment of them (and it is), but they little realize how much he is struggling with the loss of his wife. He finds a chilly reception on his return, and the way the family reconnects was particularly touching. Of course, a YA novel wouldn’t be complete without a romance, and Entwined has not one, but three. Fret not, though; suitors and romance attempts provide some of the book’s most hilarious moments.
I got this for my Kindle when it was only $.99, but I’d even recommend that you pay the full $9.99 for it now; it’s that good....more
A year after her previous adventures, September finally makes her way back to Fairyland. A year later means a year older, though- she's begun to grow a heart. Things aren't quite as easy this time around, because this time she really feels it.
September finds herself in Fairyland-below, the dark, shadowy reflection of the realm she visited previously. In this case, it is literally shadowy; September's shadow, cast away in the first novel, has set herself up as a queen and is gathering up shadows from Fairyland-above. This might not be so very bad if the shadows didn't bring with them the magic of Fairyland itself.
One can understand the shadows' interest in autonomy- both the Shadow-Wyverary and Shadow-Saturday make excellent cases for it. After all, who would want to be dragged around behind their physical selves, with absolutely no control over what one says, does, or eats? With her new-found heart, September finds more sympathy within herself then she might have a year ago. The same sympathy, however, leads to a crisis of conscience; it's better for all of Fairyland if the shadows go back where they belong, but can she bring herself to condemn her shadow friends to such an unhappy existence?
Like always, Valente's writing is both fanciful and evocative, her talent for bringing a scene to life is second to none. The tone is darker, and there is less whimsy, but as much depth and loveliness as in "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland." I do have to admit that I wasn't thrilled by the end. The last chapter or so seemed rushed, and I wasn't overly fond of the way that the plot wrapped up. It may simply be that, like anyone who spends time in Fairyland, I wasn't ready for it to end. ...more
A completely satisfying conclusion to the Abhorsen Trilogy. I was delighted to finally get some background on Mogget & the Disreputable Dog (not tA completely satisfying conclusion to the Abhorsen Trilogy. I was delighted to finally get some background on Mogget & the Disreputable Dog (not that it was hard to guess, but...). Garth Nix never fails- the plot is solid throughout, with excellent pacing that keep me involved. I was glad that all the characters came together at the end. ...more
An excellent follow-up to "Sabriel." Although Sabriel and Touchstone have limited roles in this novel, the world that Nix created is still a fantasticAn excellent follow-up to "Sabriel." Although Sabriel and Touchstone have limited roles in this novel, the world that Nix created is still a fantastic place to linger. Lirael is a fabulous character, and it was intriguing to get a better look at the Clayr, who are fairly mysterious in "Sabriel." Having read the previous novel, some of the plot twists are rather recognizable, but it didn't dull my enjoyment any....more
I was a little hesitant to get into the YA "angel-romance" trend, but I was absolutely, pleasantly, blown away by "Angelfall." The heroine was clever,I was a little hesitant to get into the YA "angel-romance" trend, but I was absolutely, pleasantly, blown away by "Angelfall." The heroine was clever, resourceful, and totally kick-ass. The angel character, while, of course, a model of male beauty, was also stubborn, recalcitrant, and agnostic. An intriguing plot line, with convoluted heavenly politics, a maybe-not-so-divine apocalypse, and strange genetic experiments, grabbed me from the beginning. My only disappointment is having to wait for the next book!...more
A solid wrap-up to the series. Nothing too brilliant or surprising, but not disappointing, either. I wasn't dismayed by the fact that not every singleA solid wrap-up to the series. Nothing too brilliant or surprising, but not disappointing, either. I wasn't dismayed by the fact that not every single question gets answered; in real life, some mysteries stay mysterious. Like the "Inheritance Cycle" itself, it could have been better, but it could have been a lot worse. Paolini managed to avoid some of the greatest fantasy tropes in the conclusion, for which I'm grateful. The confrontation with Galbatorix actually had me on the edge of my seat, pretty much the only time the series has pulled that off. I may never read it again, but I'm glad that, after a three year wait, I read it at all....more
I wish I could say that this book was any better than A Great and Terrible Beauty. But alas, it is not to be so. Gemma is as short-sighted and foolishI wish I could say that this book was any better than A Great and Terrible Beauty. But alas, it is not to be so. Gemma is as short-sighted and foolish as ever, Felicity as brash and abrasive, and Ann as wishy-washy and obnoxious. If Gemma ever took a moment to think, if there was one hint of personal growth for ANY of the characters, I would have been happier. Apparently, however, their previous experiences have taught them little, and as such, the story is deeply unsatisfying....more
Oh, the many, many problems I had with this book. The plot lacks any sort of originality: one teenager in all the world who has the magical power to sOh, the many, many problems I had with this book. The plot lacks any sort of originality: one teenager in all the world who has the magical power to save the mystical Realms from evil, blah blah blah. Not one, but two doomed romances. A troubled home life. That most classic of Victorian settings, the girls boarding school.
I could almost deal with the shallow, petty, and selfish main characters. After all, they're teenaged girls- what else would they be? Although Gemma's condemnation of the other characters for being close-minded and straight-laced, regardless of the fact that she projects the same image, was difficult to swallow. Not to mention the way she and Felicity long for freedom from their families, while enjoying the wealth and prestige that comes from their social positions. Or the way that Gemma constantly belittles everyone, from the staff to her classmates to her family, while refusing to acknowledge her own shortcomings.
However, I couldn't get past some of Gemma's other problems. She bounces back and forth between the author's idealogy and what the author is trying to project of Victorian society. One moment Gemma is a free-spirited, modern feminist, the next she acknowledges that she's never seriously considered Kartik as a romantic possibility because he's Indian.
I love the premise, largely because it's very similar to The Pagemaster, and I adore The Pagemaster. Children getting sucked into the world of books,I love the premise, largely because it's very similar to The Pagemaster, and I adore The Pagemaster. Children getting sucked into the world of books, encountering their favorite literary characters, saving the world of stories... magical. Why didn't that ever happen to me in the library as a kid?
The story could be more well-executed, but it has a lot of promise. Some character stereotyping, but not terrible. A little bit of telling instead of showing, also something that will hopefully improve as the author goes along. I'd certainly be willing to read the next one....more