Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review - Cassandra Clare's City of Glass

City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments Book 3) by Cassandra Clare
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry
Publication Date: March 24th, 2000
Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages
Rating: ★★
To Buy

The final battle with Valentine is coming. The Clave have called all Shadowhunters home to Idris to discuss the options before them. Jace doesn't want Clary to come because he is worried that she will be in harm's way, and his whole purpose in life now is to protect Clary. If they can't be together, she can at least be safe. Jace should know by now that Clary does what Clary wants, and in violation of every law the Clave has set up, she creates her own portal to Idris to find the cure for what ails her mother. Her arrival with Luke luckily remains secret, but Simon's inadvertent arrival with the Lightwoods causes a stir. Downworlders are not allowed within the city! Instead of sending Simon home, the Clave secretly hold him prisoner, proving that perhaps Valentine is right and the Clave is irreparably corrupt. With spies within the capital and no one being who they seem, can the destruction of Valentine really save the Shadowhunters, or are they a dying breed?

When you're a teenager every little crisis feels as if it's "THE END OF THE WORLD." You're just a giant ball of angst and hormones. This might be why I connected so strongly to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, even if I didn't start watching till I was out of my teens, I still remembered what it was like. The genius of Joss (yes, we're on a fist name basis, I did meet him once and talked about Upstairs, Downstairs with him) is that he not only empathized with the plight of the teenager, but he deftly skewered it. He created a show wherein the hyperbole of teenagers was actually true with the fate of the world resting on Buffy Summers's shoulders every week. I think I can safely say that "The Mortal Instruments" books wouldn't have been written if Joss hadn't been a trailblazer for the kick-ass teenage girl. In every page of Clare's work we have a paean to Joss, and in some instances lines lifted directly from Buffy, sigh. Yet, it is very obvious Clare isn't Joss. She clearly lacks the inability to know when to employ irony and humor.

While reading City of Glass, I kept thinking of the season three episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "The Zeppo," where we follow Zander's misadventures while only catching glimpses of the earth shattering apocalypse Buffy and Angel are dealing with. Why this episode? Because in the Buffy and Angel parts the writing was purposefully over the top and nothing but angst, angst, angst. Every single scene with Clary and Jace is encompassed in that overwrought acting by Sarah Michelle Geller and David Boreanaz. Or, in a non Buffy example, the "Potter Puppet Pals" sketch with Harry banging his head on the wall just saying angst over and over again. Clare is blind to the fact that she needs to lard her angst (and her faux incest, see, I knew it was going to be fake) with a little levity now and then. Because the truth is that Jace and Clary are quickly becoming the couple you hated to be around in high school because every second of their relationship is fraught with drama. Just because a book is YA doesn't mean it's obligatory to be so childish with your hormonal emotions. But then again, everything I've read about Clare's own behavior seems to indicate that she hasn't left this mindset herself, so perhaps it's not her writing that needs to grow up, but her?

Speaking of her writing... besides City of Glass encompassing everything I hate about "final" books in a series, ie, spending too much time waffling between politics and punching, with epic battles that bore me to tears with little to no respite for character development, her writing has started to become even more predictable, I know, that's hard to believe, but it's true. There comes a point when you've read enough of an author that you start to know their "tricks" and there turn of phrase. Certain words are used maybe a few too many times, a romantic moment will "stop her mouth with a kiss" (yes, I'm looking at you Shakespeare loving Lauren Willig). One of the worst perpetrators of this repetition is Tolkien, who, while I have been criticized by Tolkien geeks as overly stating the issue, I say, read his books again and on almost every page someone will stoop and look to the compass points, north, south, east, west. I certainly don't need this information every two seconds, thank you. J.K. Rowling must have read too much Tolkien at a young age because she also overuses stooping, but I always lay the blame on Tolkien, not Rowling.

A good editor should fix these problems for you, say, "Hey Jo, lay off on the stooping, how about crouching or hunching?" Tolkien is forgiven a bit because he was more a historian then a writer, so, well, you don't read his books for language. Clare's fatal flaw is her need to describe the sky, CONSTANTLY. Not just once or twice in a chapter, but as the sun keeps setting she repeatedly and stiltedly talks about the color shift. I think I will literally kill someone if I have to read yet another unrealistic description of the sky, which erratically shifts colors in ways no sky could. Blue hour my ass. Clare obviously knows nothing about color, but that is a rant for another day. Today's rant has concluded.


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