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Author Posts | What YA Reading?

July 8th, 2016

Lady Midnight

by Cassandra Clare

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From the publisher:

In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.

 

She’s back: architect of cult classic City of Bones, mastermind behind period fantasy The Infernal Devices, begetter of thousands of fangirls across the continent. Cassandra Clare, ladies and gentlemen. The New York Times bestseller, the ingenious redhead, the one and only.

She’s back, and she’s brought with her her customary assortment of lineaments and hallmarks: the alluring forbidden romance; the intoxicating Shadow World; the avenging and implacable soldier; the brooding, sensitive artist. These habitual Clarean elements may seem timeworn and hackneyed in their retrograde, but fear not, dear readers! Clare manages to lovingly shine out their tarnish and put them to good use once again. These traditional cornerstones of her novels return to the battlefield in Lady Midnight like seasoned veterans to the enduring war, choosing to be refined instead of antiquated, timeless instead of past their prime.

Yes, you might say that Cassie Clare is the Sisyphus of modern YA: doomed to write the same story over and over again, only to watch it bowl down the mountainside every single time. At this point, I can safely assume that you’ve picked up The Mortal Instruments (if you stopped reading after the original trilogy, as did I, so much the better) as well as The Infernal Devices. If you’re still here, it’s because you know that sometimes you can’t avert your eyes from the crash.

Why? Two words: entertainment value. It’s predictable, fabricated, and at times written objectionably and ostentatiously. It’s teeming with selfless young love and soulful descriptions of blue-green eyes. Every other chapter could have been titled “Teamwork Will Ultimately Defeat Evil, with a Side of Gothic Intrigue.” But there’s something about it– adventure; mystery;  maybe even an element of nostalgia for earlier days, when life was simpler and Shadowhunters less commonplace — that keeps you coming back for more. And at approximately 698 pages, at least with this kind of whopper you know you’re getting your money’s worth.

In my opinion, the book’s biggest selling point were the cameos played by Clare’s previous characters. As of yet, I’m not invested enough in Lady Midnight‘s protagonists to have read this novel solely for their sake. All in all, Emma was great, Julian was expected, Christina was winsome, and Mark was a pleasant surprise. Once again, my applause goes to the author for opening the door to characters of various sexualities. On the other hand, the Blackthorn siblings were a disappointment: leave it to Clare to write an army of identical, perfect children, given the chance. After the first few hundred pages, they all melded together sufficiently enough in my mind that had they not possessed such totally unique names, they would have amalgamated into one very large impeccably-behaved toddler. Adorable, but proof that Clare has not spent enough time with real children to obey that ancient law, Write what you know.

Would I recommend this to you had you not previously devoted yourself to Clare’s antecedent series? Absolutely not. Will I be reading the sequel? In its entirety. 3/5 stars.

 

I’ll keep you posted,

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When 16-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld,where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own. Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by — and torn between — two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world… and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

 

I’m not going to compare The Infernal Devices to The Mortal Instruments. I’d really rather review this series independently instead of stacking it up against another, and honestly it’s been way too long since I reread City of Bones anyway (watching the movie, although satisfactory and highly diverting in its own way, sadly doesn’t count). Yes, the YA community has been ablaze with various grievances par rapport à the books’ similarities since Clockwork Angel was first published in 2010, but frankly I can’t find it in myself to be bothered. Because the truth is that Cassandra Clare gave me exactly what I was craving, and it was delectable.

In all honesty, I wasn’t looking for authenticity when I zealously downloaded these books onto my Kindle. What I needed was escape. I needed to embark on a ragingly wild ride comprised of action, witticisms, and reckless abandon. I needed a page-turner, and I needed it stat. In such dire circumstances, who better to turn to than Cassandra Clare, who has found her trademark writing avenue and stuck to it like fangirls to Will Herondale? And by jove, did she deliver. I read this series in a matter of days and loved every moment of it. Its biggest failing? It ended.

And oh, what an ending! Regardless of the infamous gripe that The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments display a disproportionate amount of synonymies– re. characters or otherwise– I don’t think anyone can claim that this series’ ending wasn’t ludicrously creative. In one word, it was bittersweet. But for some reason I also felt like it was cheating? Notwithstanding, I was ridiculously happy at the resolution. Whoever says you can’t have your cake and eat it too has clearly not met Tessa Gray.

The Infernal Devices‘ strongest suit, by far, is its characters. Love them, hate them–  it doesn’t matter. You’re all chummy regardless. Over the course of the series, it’s nearly impossible to not come to care for each and every last one. And the characters’ relationships with one another? Priceless. Not only was the love triangle– albeit typical, but again this is Cassandra Clare–  achingly realistic, but their friendships were engaging and altogether charming. I, for one, was positively enamoured with Jem’s and Will’s solidarity. Three cheers for strong and healthy relationships between characters who aren’t potential love interests! They anchor one another, and it’ s beautiful. And between them and Tessa, I can’t get over the way these characters are woven together. They just fit, and it’s both uncanny and heartrendingly real.

I don’t feel the need to make a lengthy commentary on the world building. The Shadow World, of course, is well described, but we knew that already. It’s the whole London in the late nineteenth century part that’s novel. Being nowhere near knowledgeable on the subject, I can safely say that I quite enjoyed it. Tessa’s love affair with books, of which I have read a grand total of two, was particularly amusing. Also, I now want to go to Whales. Note to self: stop spending money on ridiculously-priced beverages and start saving for rolling green hills and dapper Welsh accents.

Just a reminder: you do not need to read The Mortal Instruments before delving into this series. If you want to, go for it. However I would recommend sticking to the original trilogy. Everything just sort of goes downhill from there until you want to pitch the books across the room or light them on (Heavenly) fire.

This is not the series for you if you’re feeling analytical, judicious, or mildly peevish.  However if you need to stop thinking for a while and start flipping pages, by all means read on. 4.9/5 stars.

 

I’ll keep you posted,

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August 12th, 2011

City of Bones

by Cassandra Clare

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Rating: 4.5/5 (2 votes cast)

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Buy City of Bones on Amazon

 

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

 

Clary Fray is like most of the girls you know (knew?) from high school; loves to draw. Has an awkward best friend whom she spends all her time with. Sort of pretty. Nothing much.

Or is she?

Welcome to City of Bones. Hold onto your hats, ladies and gentlemen, ’cause it’s going to be one Hades of a wild ride.

By ‘wild’ I mean packed-full of sarcastic hilarity, mysterious Shadowhunters, and completely unpredictable plot twists that you never even saw coming.

When Clary discovers the world of Shadowhunters, her life changes. Who are these unfathomable people who hunt demons, tattoo mysterious runes on themselves, and have angel blood? What is the role of Downworlders, races of mystical creatures including vampires, werewolves and fairies, in this crazy parallel world? And, most importantly, why can she, unlike all mundane humans, see them?

And then there’s  Jace. *Dreamy sigh* Thank you, Cassie Clare. Thank you for the beauty that is Jace Wayland, City of Bones’s main male protagonist. Jace is sarcastic, endearing, amusing, and I can say with absolute honesty that he is the wittiest character I have encountered. Ever.

The only downside of City of Bones: your head will spin with questions until you either: A) buy and read the sequel, City of Ashes, or B) throw up.

I so, so, so badly want to give City of Bones 5 stars. But a 5 star book changes the way that you think. And although this book isn’t that, it’s the next best thing.

So: 4.999/5 stars. Perfect for you if you’re literate and possess a brain.

 

I’ll keep you posted,

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