Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Review: City of Fallen Angels

Well it's a bit odd for me to review a book in the middle of a series without first covering the other books but stranger things have happened on this blog. Actually, this book's existence is odd, the author had already completed a triology (the first three books in this series) and was going to write a spin-off comic book about one of the side characters and when that didn't pan out she started writing it as a companion novel and realized that it was actually a three book story, not a one book one. So now she's writing two series at once which seem to still be fairly popular, if the waiting list for the books at my local library is any indication (think I requested this book in late April and got it mid-June, I was about 14th in line and the book had been out for a little while at that point). Because of all of that, I would not recommend starting with this book if you want to read the series (and honestly, who starts with the middle book in a series anyway?) but if you're already familiar with the first three and are wondering if this book is worth checking out then here's a review for you.

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Continuing with the same style as the past three books there isn't much to say about this one, except that Clary's obviously photoshopped green eyes (they're much more noticeable in person) are really creeping me out.

Summary: The cast from The Mortal Instruments returns and, after the chaotic events at the end of The City of Glass, some things are returning to normal and a new normal is being created for others. Clary begins to train as a shadowhunter, Jace has horrible nightmares that slowly begin to control him and Simon deals with having two girlfriends at once. Guess whose the main character in this story?

The Good: Having Simon as the narrator (well, most central character to this book, it's a third person narration) is actually a good thing since he’s snarky, a pretty nice guy, usually easier to sympathize with than the other characters and he’s outsider so he’s more in the loop than anyone else (as odd as it sounds, he hangs out with a wider variety of people than almost any other character). The book serves to further widen their world, even if almost no new characters are introduced, and it brings in one character from The Infernal Devices but does so in such a way that people who haven’t read The Clockwork Angel won’t be confused. People who are already fans of the series will love this book, it hardly feels like it's been two years since the last book came out, and people who like YA urban fantasy with plenty of romance will like this series as well, this book in particular isn't stronger than any of the other books but it isn't weaker than them either. 

The Bad: While trying to stay as spoiler free as possible I shall say this about the ending, I think they killed the wrong villain. It seems as if they killed off the much more interesting (and probably more powerful) villain so it's disgruntling that the characters will now (presumably) have to spend the next two books killing off the other villain (which also probably could have been avoided). Simon’s love triangle was also resolved awfully fast, incredibly conveniently as well, and yet the two girls (Isabella, shadowhunter who likes going out with downworlders who her parents would never approve of and Maria, a bi-racial werewolf in Luke’s pack who initially hated Simon for being a vampire) acted rather out of character for the whole thing*. In the end, it feels like this book wraps up neatly and everything is going fine and then oh hey guys, you forgot something, let’s watch it cause problems for two more books! At this point I'm just not sure how this is the start of a multi-book story, if the characters were smart this would have been a nice, one-off side adventure.
While I'm happy that my favorite side characters reappared after all (Mangus, Maria, I'm not that fond of the main cast) and I do think I liked this book more than Clockwork Angel I found myself yelling at the ending which isn't a good sign. I don't yell at stories when I don't want them to end or when it's a cliffhanger (I read manga/webcomics, I deal with cliffhangers on a daily basis), I yell when the characters do something dumb and I thought they were clever enough to think ahead. I will probably try the next book, just to see if my guess about the villain is correct, but I just don't find myself liking these books as much as when I first read them back in high school.   

*it’s true that I wanted the other pairing to happen but I do really think that Isabella contradicted herself, by saying it was okay for her to be non-exclusive but Simon couldn't (bit of a weird gender-flip take on that one actually, yes she does explain herself but it seems like a bit of a stupid excuse). And Maria was surprisingly mellow when an old flame of hers came back to town (in order to make this all really complicated) and this is despite the fact that she hasn’t gotten much more mellow since she was introduced, there hasn’t even been enough time for serious character development.

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