Fiction Friday Round-Up – February 27th, 2015

I’ve done something different this week!

Instead of smooshing together every book I’ve read over the past week and a half into one very long post, I’ve created this master list/round-up.

  • The Bane Chronicles – Cassandra Clare (with Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan): “Basically, it felt like I was reading fanfiction. Mediocre fanfiction that you find on some sketchy site because you miss the characters so much that you’re willing to read anything, as long as they’re doing something again.”
  • Going Rogue – Robin Benway: “…there may have been some plot holes and I was a smidge confused about the mystery at first, plus the characters haven’t changed much since my initial impression of them, but it was a very quick, fun read.”
  • The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “For one, I totally related to The Little Prince: grown-ups are strange.”
  • Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom – Susin Nielsen: “This has a bit of The Parent Trap-feel to it, but it wasn’t the old “get Mom and Dad back together” trope. The fact that Violet thinks GEORGE CLOONEY is the perfect option is hilarious and amazing and I totally believe she met him.”

Thanks for reading! Don’t know how many books I’ll get through this upcoming week, but maybe I’ll make this a regular thing? (Sidenote: apologies to anyone who receives email notifications when I post stuff…I didn’t mean to takeover your inboxes!).

The Bane Chronicles – Cassandra Clare

The Bane Chronicles – Cassandra Clare (with Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan)
This collection of eleven short stories illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality, flamboyant style, and sharp wit populate the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.

Originally released one-by-one as e-only short stories by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan, this compilation presents all ten together in print for the first time and includes a never-before-seen eleventh tale, as well as new illustrated material.

I know when I read City of Heavenly Fire in August, I said it was probably the last Cassandra Clare book I’ll read. I lied. But this is ABSOLUTELY, DEFINITELY, WITHOUT A DOUBT the last Cassandra Clare book I’ll ever read. For realz, this time.

I like Magnus Bane – he’s always been my favourite character in CC’s multiple series (even after I stopped actually enjoying the books and only read them for the sake of knowing what happened next and apparently because I’m a glutton for punishment), so I was sort of excited to read this.

If you haven’t read it yet and you’re hoping to learn something new or interesting, don’t bother. Literally nothing happens.

The stories are “fun” anecdotes, but they barely tell you anything you don’t already know. To be fair, I’ve forgotten most of the minor characters from The Mortal Instruments/The Infernal Devices, so sometimes it felt like I was being introduced to new characters. Maybe if you’ve read them recently/have a better memory than me, some of these stories will hold deeper meanings for you. But I’m not re-reading all nine of them anytime soon, so I guess I’ll never know (I’ll just Wikipedia them).

There were stories about the vampires and I was all “woo, ‘sup Camille”, who I vaguely remember as being pretty badass. And there was a weird one about Marie Antoinette that was trying to be funny but was just sort of “lol, what?” because I didn’t understand the point of it (also super annoyed that we never do find out why Magnus was banned from entering Peru).

And then there was the one story with Will and Tessa and Jem-as-a-Silent-Brother shows up and I was reminded of how much I hated the epilogue in The Clockwork Princess, which made me mad all over again (now that I think about it, it was sort of similar to the trainwreck that was the last two minutes of the How I Met Your Mother series finale). It was a story that was clearly just written for the sake of getting the three of them into a room together again. (P.S. Will’s son already sounds like a combination of his father and Jace, which is not at all surprising because CC really likes lead male characters who are tortured-yet-sensitive).

Basically, it felt like I was reading fanfiction. Mediocre fanfiction that you find on some sketchy site because you miss the characters so much that you’re willing to read anything, as long as they’re doing something again. The stories with Alec – while cute – reminded me of the Harry/Ginny fanfiction I used to read while waiting for Harry Potter to finish (once I read the last book, I stopped reading fanfiction because, as far as I was concerned, the series was done and I didn’t need anything else unless it was coming from JKR herself).

I get wanting to revisit characters, I do. You connect with a character and you feel sad when you no longer have new stories about them. I’m a writer, I understand wanting to write more about these people/creatures/things that have been living in your head. But I also feel like revisiting characters requires you to actually write a story where stuff happens otherwise, if there’s no plot, what’s the point?

I don’t think these stories were edited. Sure, they were originally put out as epubs (I think you had to pay for them, which is why I waited for the physical book?) so I don’t know if they had to go through the whole editorial process first (probably just copyediting). But if they did, then her editor was clearly all “quantity over quality i.e. do whatever the frick-frack you want, Cassie, you’ll make us money from now until the end of time”…and didn’t worry too much about content.

Because literally nothing happened.

This review has more plot than The Bane Chronicles, and I’m just repeating the same idea using slightly different words.

Not unlike the majority of The Bane Chronicles.

Yes, sometimes there were funny moments. Yes, sometimes there were sweet or cute moments. Yes, Magnus is still my favourite character (granted, I barely remember half the characters, and I hate the other half, so is that really a compliment?).

But mostly? NOTHING HAPPENED.

City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare [ALL THE SPOILERS]

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or are completely oblivious to YA series), you’ll know that the latest Cassandra Clare book – City of Heavenly Fire – came out in May.

“Darkness has descended on the Shadowhunter world. Chaos and destruction overwhelm the Nephilim as Clary, Jace, Simon, and their friends band together to fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell. Nothing in this world can defeat Sebastian—but if they journey to the realm of demons, they just might have a chance…

Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world will change. Who will survive the explosive sixth and final installment of the Mortal Instruments series?”

WARNING: SO MANY SPOILERS AHEAD (and also a fair bit of ranting)

First of all, I’ve had a lot of issues with the last 3-4 books (including the last book in The Infernal Devices series, Clockwork Princess, but don’t even get me started on that ending). So I assumed, going in, that I was going to grumble a lot but ultimately wanted to find out what happened.

I knew, right away, that Clare is not the type of writer to give you an unhappy ending. No es posible. She may throw in a few unexpected deaths, but no matter how many times Jace came perilously close to sacrificing himself (through his own foolishness, most of the time), there was no way he was going to kick the bucket…especially when you consider this tome was over 700 pages and no one would be able to deal with Clary mourning his loss for 3/4 of it.

Here are things I did not like:

-the Emma Carstairs plotline. NO ONE CARES. Maybe hardcore fans do, but the rest of us? Not so much. Those scenes didn’t really add much to the overall storyline and it was basically a plug for the next series, The Dark Artifices (book one comes out next year, but I sure as heck won’t be reading it). If Clare was smart, she could have suckered the readers into a) reading Emma’s POV on her website or b) buying a companion book with Emma (and other peoples’) perspectives if they needed more information. That way, those of us who didn’t particularly like this new character and had already decided that this would be the last Clare book we’d read wouldn’t have to suffer through her boring parts (by the time I hit 400 pages, I started skimming Emma’s parts).

-the werewolves. I was never especially fond of the werewolves to begin with, but HOLY SMOKES, having stuff happen to Maia meant it had to be relayed through six different channels before it got back to Clary…which meant I read the SAME STORY (Jordan’s death and the destruction of the Praetor) SIX TIMES to the point that I actually stopped caring. Maia’s parts were skimmed as well.

-what is it with Clare’s protagonists and their absurd wish to take their relationships to the next level while the world falls to pieces around them? I get that maybe it’s a “welp, we’re all doomed anyway, so screw it”, but Tessa and Will (in The Infernal Devices) have sex in a jail cell (or some other cell? I don’t remember), then Clary and Jace are all “let’s do this” on the edge of a mysterious lake in a DEMON REALM. By the way, I’m so proud of Jace for remembering to bring a condom to the demon world (of all the things to pack – they can’t find non-glass bottles for Simon to keep a supply of blood, but CONDOMS are a priority?!), because nothing turns a girl on quite like being in the same realm as her evil brother who is TRYING TO DESTROY THE WORLD.

-speaking of Jace and Clary: they are THE MOST OBNOXIOUS couple in the series. Every few pages, Clary had to wax on about how much she loves Jace: “Jace laughed, the laugh that Clary first fell in love with.” “She’s never get over how beautiful he was with those cheekbones and those gold eyes.” “When Jace sneezed, it was the sound of fairies alighting on petals.” (I made that last one up, but variations of the first two appeared ad nauseum). I’ve only spent the past FIVE books reading about how much she loves him, I don’t really need to be told again. Also, can I just point out that they’re 16 and have only known each other for 6 months?

-Simon’s “sacrifice”. He should have just died. Maybe I’m biased because I’ve never really liked Simon (he was such a pansy until he turned into a vampire) so I was sort of hoping he’d die. But it would also have been a lot more poignant – he was never supposed to be part of their world but was dragged in because of his friendship with Clary and for him to be a casualty – I’d have cried, even though I didn’t love the character. (sidenote: I have a hard time buying Simon and Isabelle’s relationship. I knew they’d end up together, but it honestly doesn’t read like Simon’s over Clary and I always assumed Clary and Isabelle didn’t really like each other, but now apparently they’re BFFs?).

-what the frack was with the “I’m Jonathon, not Sebastian” thing? If you’re going to kill the bad guy, JUST KILL HIM. Offering him redemption, while it shows a more compassionate side, also weakens that critical moment in the worst way possible.

-stylistically, Clare made a lot of comparisons to cats and it was really stupid: “he prowled like a cat” “she yawned like a cat” “his eyes were slit like a cat’s”…there are other words you could use. Or don’t use similes, whatever.

Things I liked:

-Magnus and Alec got back together. They were my favourite couple (Magnus is hands-down my favourite character, but don’t talk to me about the movie because no. Just…no.). I had been excited to read The Bane Chronicles (which comes out in November) but then there was a very obvious plug for it and, instead of making me excited, it turned me off. I’ll probably change my mind come November, but I’m not going to rush out to buy it.

I think that was the only part I liked. The plot itself was good (not great). There was definitely a Harry Potter moment (“Give me Clary and Jace and I will spare the rest of you”….thanks Volde- I mean, Sebastian) which was striking (in that it ripped off the Battle of Hogwarts).

At the end of the day, (and I hate to say this), I think I’m old for this nonsense. City of Bones came out  when I was 17…it’s been 7 years and, sadly, I grew out of the series. Maybe if this last book had come out when I was 17, I’d have loved it. But at this point…it’s just so predictable, but not in a good way.

Despite this very long post, I didn’t hate it. At least, I didn’t hate it any more than I thought I would, if that makes sense. I went in with very low expectations and she basically met them.

I had just hoped she would blow me away.