Katie's Reviews > City of Fallen Angels

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
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's review
Apr 29, 2011

did not like it
Read in April, 2011

Oh boy.

I first picked up CoB on a whim many many moons ago, not really knowing the author's history or the background of the book at all, and I recall when first reading it going: "Hey, this reads like fanfiction. Pretty good fanfiction, but fanfiction nontheless." Then I looked the author up online and went:

"Oh my."

But because they were fun breezy reads I continued with the rest of the series, excusing the more eye-rolly moments because she kept up a good pace.

One thing I will give Clare credit for is in CoB and it's two sequels, she could pace. (Even if there were moments of "Wait a tick, how could Clary throw a knife with accuracy if she was a human like a week ago?") Now, since most people have talked about the logic and character problems inherent in CoFA, I'll talk about pacing.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, these graphs can help illustrate what pacing is.

First off, there's the concept of peaks and valleys. A peak is a beat of action, while a valley is time where characters process said beat of action.

Good pacing is a series of steadily rising peaks and valleys until you reach the climax, and then a falling action and resolution.

A satisfying story has enough beats of action to keep the story going, along with enough beats of "rest time" for the reader to properly process the action. All of this is basic playwriting 101, but I find it applies to fiction as well.

Now, unfortunately some people can forget the concept of peaks and valleys, and then you have two types that can split off from the peak/valley ideal. One is a story where it's almost all peaks and no valleys, and gives you no time to process the action or really connect to the characters, (since I find I connect most to the characters during quieter moments.) These stories can still be entertaining, but generally are as about as memorable as a Michael Bay movie. The other downside is one where it's all valleys and no peaks. This doesn't mean there has to be car chases and such, but Things Need To Happen in order to push the story along, like finding out your idiot sister just ran off with Mr. Wickham or something. But if you have people standing around talking with nothing happening, it's going to come off as pretty boring. If you have too much action or not enough action, you would have a graph that looks like this:

Unfortunately for Ms. Clare, CoFA falls decidedly into the latter category. The majority of this book is people standing around and talking. And what's worse, it's people standing around and talking about their love lives. Now, I guess that's entertaining if that's what you're expecting. However, based on the three previous books I expected, I don't know, something to happen maybe? For me, the majority of the book went:

Talk talk talk ANGST talk talk Dudes in Sweatsuits (wait what?) Talk ANGST ANGST talk HEY LOOK CLIMAX oh wait I'm over now.

Which is a problem. I could overlook some of the more glaring issues in Ms. Clare's writing with a ripping good tale where Stuff Happens and Action Takes Place, but with most action being talking, it was not a good read for me. Especially the extended scenes of Jace/Clary woe. There's nothing worse for me to read than breaking up a couple for nothing more than the sake of extending the plot. It's why I stopped watching a few television shows once my favorite couple FINALLY got together (Hi Gossip Girl!), because I knew the show would find new and more annoying ways to keep them apart to keep the plot going. I don't mind breaking up a couple or keeping a couple apart if it makes sense to the larger plot, but when a plot seems made up entirely for the sake of breaking up said couple, I don't like that. It seems lazy to me. CoFA is like that in one giant book, with many excuses for all the power couples to fight with each other, and talk about fighting with each other, and angsting about each other, and so on. By the time Lilith showed up I'd pretty much checked out. Had there been more action to break up all the angsting, I might have kept up with it and been more forgiving. But since pretty much what this book did was bore me, I'm afraid I'm going to have to give it a single star and check out of the rest of the series.
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07/10 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Vinaya Oh! Graphs! Now we have to be friends!

Oh, and great review! :)

message 2: by Lucy (new) - rated it 1 star

Lucy I love when people make graphs.

message 3: by Danielle (new)

Danielle I'm joining the bandwagon- I flippin' love your graphs and review! Now if I can only get on here more an actually write reviews too... Blast life!

Evie Great review! I think the really sad thing about this book was that it made me hate Jace. I loved Jace all through the first three books. I hated him halfway through this one. And for the reason you said. The plot seemed made up entirely to reopen the "tortured romance" plot between Jace and Clary that had already been neatly resolved and so should not have been revisited.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

"Talk talk talk ANGST talk talk Dudes in Sweatsuits (wait what?) Talk ANGST ANGST talk HEY LOOK CLIMAX oh wait I'm over now." Lol, that read like a extremely bad sex description.
Great review.

message 6: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Renee Nice review! Although I did enjoy this book, I have to agree with you on the pace of this book. It was definitely unlike her previous three. Most of it just seemed like filling information, which isn't a bad thing in my opinion at all. It also makes sense that this book would be a little slower, because we're introducing a completely new conflict while still recovering from the preceding. It's like being in the eye of a hurricane. I think that because the beginning didn't have as much excitement as we would expect from Clare, it made the ending more thrilling. Nonetheless, it was a little slow, and because of that it took me a lot longer to read than it should've.

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