Linger is the second of a trilogy (so far), and it does that aggravating thing of forcing a sequel.  I can handle that with movies, but it's lame with novels. At least resolve a subplot or two!  I'm not asking for much.

That said, I pretty much liked a majority of some of the many things about the novel that could be liked by many readers or maybe just a few.  Yes.  No.  Maybe.  That's how I feel about this novel.  It's true.

  • Provocative/evocative.  There's this scene with a deer.  And this other sexy scene.  And drug abuse.  And a ton of nudity.  Maybe not a ton, but enough to be a significant part of Cole's characterization.
  • New character, old favorite.  I can't help it.  I like Cole.  Is it his track marks?  His death wishes?  The way he's unapologetically sexual.  It's like the boy I wanted to abuse love me in high school!  He develops perfectly by the end of this installment of the story, so I look forward to more in Forever, the third.  And then I forgot how much I liked Isabel in Shiver until I read her again in this novel.  She's my favorite kind of bitch--snotty, snarky, and vulnerable.  She's the perfect match for Cole.  In fact, they made the novel for me.  (More on that later.)
  • Realistic conflicts.  Once again, the author pleases me by not making the paranormal aspect the central issue.  It lingers (har har) in subplot limbo, right where I like it.  Grace's parents finally figure into everything, which is good--because I just wasn't buying the whole Sam-sneak-in-every-night thing from Shiver.  I'd like some friend tension between Grace and Isabel or Rachel, but I suppose that wish is fulfilled by Cole/Victor and Sam/Cole.  Of course nothing I just wrote makes sense to anyone who hasn't read the novel.
  • Style.  I like Stiefvater's writing style overall.  She's not flowery, not plain.  There's a natural pace to her prose.  I buy the figurative language.  I don't feel like I'm swimming in a writer's ego or that an editor had to rewrite sections.
  • Structure.  The flip-turn POV works for me.  The momentum is steady, and I actually like the switch in perspectives between moments.  I've always wanted to have a super power like that.  One minute I'm watching my husband go into the bathroom, and then when he locks the door, I'm him, and I get to experience peeing standing up.  That would be sweet!
  • Imbalanced characterization.  I love Isabel and Cole, but Sam and Grace are getting kinda boring.  There's energy/chemistry between Isabel and Cole--maybe because he's always naked?  Probably because they as characters are more dynamic, with a ton more going on in their lives.  But Sam and Grace are supposedly in love, so shouldn't there be some magical sparks flying around them?  Apparently not.  They're like an old married couple already!  I'm totally on Team I+C.
  • Again, the parents.  I complained that in the first novel, the lack of parental involvement detracted from the story.  Well, now they're overbearing and always pissed off.  How does that work?  Grace seems to wonder the same thing.  The problem is that we don't see the core of their behavior, so they just seem like background annoyances--like when your sweater gets stuck on the edge of the car door, and you suddenly find you're nearly on the ground with a hole in the back of your favorite fashion accessory.
  • Confusion.  I'm asking myself at this point: What is this story about?  I'm enjoying the day-to-day of the characters, but I'm not sure that's getting me anywhere.  I've got a ton of questions about authorial plot choices.  One:  Why is Victor in the story?  I don't really care that he croaks (sorry--it's not that important), and Cole's reaction isn't justified for me.  I'm ready for something more clearly significant to happen--keyword: clear.  
I'm not sure how I feel about this story.  Seriously.  When I think of Twilight, I feel a bad something.  When I think of A Great and Terrible Beauty, I feel a good something.  When I think of Linger, I don't feel much of anything, other than I want to see Dirty and Bitchy get it on some more.  I don't dislike the story.  I don't love the story.  It doesn't make me want to go Oedipus and poke my eyes out, nor does it make me want to fantasize about a film cast. 

Maybe it's my own emotional vacancy--something that happens at the end of every semester, just about the time the research papers start rolling in.  I just don't know.


The Dead-Tossed Waves

This is the sequel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which (to put it lightly) I didn't like.  At all.  In fact, when I finished The Forest of HaT, I was pissed off--something that hadn't happened since I finished Breaking Dawn.

The Dead-Tossed Waves had sat on my shelf (a.k.a. the floor by the uncomfortable chair) for weeks before I picked it up and decided--with a huff and a sigh--to finally dive in and get it over with.  However, to my delight, something happened about 20 pages in, and after that, I couldn't stop.  I didn't want to stop.

How is it that a first book can suck so much, but its sequel rule the zombie lit world?  I have no idea, but that's what happened.

  • Characters.  I like every single character in here, except for the ones I hate, but I'm supposed to hate them, so I like them.  Huh?  Each character is unique from the others.  Each has something to donate to the conflict and resolution.  Each has a stake in the outcome of situations.  Imagine that--a cast of characters who actually work together.  It's like a Robert Altman film. 
  • Emotions.  We see them and feel them without being told they exist.  Boys cry in this one.  I like that.  Desire is palpable.  My favorite:  Gabry wants to kiss Catcher so badly (but can't--read why), so as he's tracing her forbidden lips with his thumb, she slips her tongue out to taste him.  Excellent!  The emptiness of loss is realistic in the chaotic world of survival. 
  • Shock and suspense.  Stephenie Meyer could use a shot of sense when it comes to this.  She should read this book and weep, realizing that a story is always better when there is massive conflict--conflict piled upon conflict--and characters have a reason to experience a range of emotions.  I was scared as I read this--nervous about what the author would create next.  Who would get zombified?  Who would get arrested?  Who would die?  This story throws it in your face right away, giving you a real reason to read on.  Something has to keep me reading beyond the special pre-teen loins tickle that I get (no, I don't!) when lips brush along collarbones and all that.  This story absolutely delivers.
  • Balance.  Part love, part confusion, part horror, part survival, part social commentary, part critique of human nature--and a lot more.  Seriously.  But nothing takes over.  It's all seamlessly soldered.  It's like having one of those really weird dishes at a fancy-shmancy restaurant.  Who the hell knew that lotus root, fish eyes, and pancreas juice would taste so lovely?
  • Mood.  The desperation and desolation of this post-apocalyptic world is tangible.  The constant moaning of the zombies (reminds me of my college days in San Francisco), the ruined villages and cities, the decay of American icons...brilliant.
  • Uncategorized awesomeness.  Pet zombies with their lower jaws hacked off by white-robe-wearing religious weirdos.  Almost rape turning into actual murder.  No tidy answers to anything.  An ending that doesn't guarantee happiness.  (All hail non-Hollywood endings, a la Seven!).
THE Ppppppfffffttttttt
  • Frustrating female.  Again!  Another girl who blames herself for every single tiny meaningless thing that's ever gone wrong in the history of the universe.  If she'd only blinked twice instead of once, the do do bird might not have gone extinct!  Yes, it's that bad.  My mother argues that parapseudos are indicative of teen girls' fantasy lives.  If that's the case, I want to shake every teen girl and scream, "DON'T BELIEVE THE BULLSHIT!  EVE DIDN'T DESTROY THE WORLD!  SHE THOUGHT INDEPENDENTLY!  SHE TOOK WHAT SHE WANTED!"  Ugh.  Why do all these authors create girl protags motivated by guilt?  Are they all Catholic?
  • The Envelope.  The author stuffs it, licks the glue, puts the stamp on, addresses it, but doesn't push it.  (Even I cringed at that one...)  A little more aggressive controversy would be fantastic.  Don't just have a character curl her hands into white-knuckled fists.  Make her use them!  Punch that jerk in the throat!  Don't just have lips brushing lips with strange moans emitting from the backs of throats.  Have some wandering fingers!
So here's my dilemma.  This sequel is up there with the Gemma Doyles and the Mortal Instruments for me, but the first installment is down there with Twilight and House of Night.  But in order to enjoy Dead-Tossed fully, you have to have read Hands and Teeth.  How can I tell someone, "You have to read Totally Awesome, but in order to enjoy it fully, you have to read Sucks So Hard."

Here's something weird:  I want to read this one again.  Right now.  Instead, I'm gonna order the third work in the series and see where it fits on the spectrum.  And if it's even 1/2 as good as Dead-Tossed, then I'm gonna reread Hands and Teeth to see if I was missing something.  Otherwise, it's like saying Nightmare on Elm Street 2 & 3 were better than the first--which we all know is the untruest of all untruths.


Blue Moon: A Review in Haiku!

It's a departure from my usual form because I NEED a departure from the parapseudo norm.  I'm sure I'll return quickly to my safe, rambling posts.  I was tempted to go Full Bitch on this one (but that's only because I'm so tired of grading research papers); instead, I decided to cram my snark into 17-syllable jabs.  

A girl named Ever
after four hundred years is
still a virgin.

Her virginity
is a commodity that
Damen can't afford

which is weird because,
like the Cullens, his wealth is

Elixir of life
to miserable mortals:
weird, red Gatorade.

Ever loves Damen.
Ever hates Roman. Roman
hates Damen.  The end.

Roman hates Damen
cuz he thinks he killed that bitch
Drina.  He is wrong.

Roman mind-controls
Ever's pathetic high school.
Boring bad boy tricks.

So here's the good stuff:
Story?  Nah.  Characters?  Nope.
Wait.  Just let me think...

No penetration,
no shivering, gasping kiss.
They call this romance?

If I wanted to
read about time traveling,
I'd read H.G. Wells.

Laguna Beach is
breathtakingly beautiful--
but not in this book;

instead, it is as
plain as the paper the words
have been printed on.

Back to Rogue Roman,
a young immortal orphan.

Another blondish
jerk with teeth like white Chiclets--
True Laguna Beach.

Will Ever ever
(in her words ) "jump Damen's bones"?
All we care about.

Damen sure knows how
to unhook a bra damn fast...
but not fast enough

cuz Ever puts the
kibosh on sex.  Don't worry!
Roman screws them both.

Hardy har!  I think of this exercise as a microcosm of what the author must've gone through--trying to shove awkward junk into a space that doesn't work.  She's trying too hard for my taste.  Trying to weave too much story together.  Leaving me with questions about simple stuff--like who the hell cares about these kids?  Wondering why she writes so many fragmented sentences starting with -ing verbs.  Ending ideas before they...



This is from Holly Black's series called "modern faerie tales." There are three in the series so far, and from what I can tell by reading Valiant, which is apparently the second, each can stand on its own.  I appreciate that. 

In fact, I'd like more authors to write each novel in a series as a stand-alone story--like a sitcom.  You can watch an episode and still get it.  I'm getting annoyed by cliffhanger serial endings, especially when the new one's not coming out for a year.  I guess that's what the screaming teenagers felt about the next Beatles album.

But I digress...

  • Grunge.  It's set in the squatter world, and it works.  I spent a whole summer with San Francisco squatters, and I can attest to the verisimilitude of some of Black's imagery.  Bug-ridden clothes.  Washing out underwear in bathroom sinks.  Drug addiction.  Violence.  Fear.  At times, I cringed at the smells, textures, attitudes.  A wonderful change from the flawless jerk/silent girl story.
  • Female protag who isn't a princess waiting to be rescued.  It was so refreshing to read about a girl who is hurt, goes Brittney Spears crazy, places herself in danger (with no one to tell her not to), has "whatever, why not?" sex, struggles with drug addiction, learns to fight, and loves a scary creature with teeth that rip his lips apart.  It's actually much more realistic than any of the other stories I've read.  Period.
  • Faerie stuff.  I know...it's the focus of the story.  But I just didn't get into it.  First of all, there wasn't any reason to the variance of faerie types.  Why did some have bird faces while others had antlers jutting out of their eyebrows?  What are their origins?  What are their jobs?  Are they evil, or what?
  • Reality/fantasy transition.  For the first 1/3 of the novel, we're down and dirty in the subway tunnels, watching the protag get addicted to some sort of faerie dust.  There are hints of faerie here and there, but nothing crazy.  Then ALAKAZAM!  Suddenly we're in a world where everyone has a bizarre name, horns, black lips, hooves, etc.  People get turned into dogs and then shot.  A mermaid is found murdered.  It isn't a smooth transition, and I found myself wishing I were back in the non-faerie world.  Maybe that's just my old, non-parapseudo preferences creeping back in...
  • Sympathetic characters.  Although I liked the variance of characters, I really didn't care what happened to them.  I liked the love interest enough, but I didn't really feel any chemistry there.  The dynamics between the characters is flat because the characters are static.  I'm ready for a story that has characters who move me!
  • Faerie tale?  I finished the novel and wondered about the point of what I'd just read.  It boldly claims to be a "faerie tale," yet it doesn't have the earmarks of the genre (outside telling us that there are faeries running around in a glamour costume).  Granted, in some ways it's the anti-faerie tale--somewhat like "Beauty and the Beast," where the damsel rescues the prince.  Still, I was looking forward to a thoughtful retelling of a story within one of the oldest genres in oral tradition.  I don't think it delivered.
I'll read the others in Holly Black's series when I need a break from the yearning helpless girl battling her love for the handsome asshole.  Black's stories are gritty, filled with F-bombs, and they don't play around with innocence.  I felt more of a connection with this protag than most of the others I've encountered because her pain is real--and even though these stories are set in fantasy, I still need humanity to provide an anchor.



Lauren Kate has done it again!

And I don't mean she wrote another great book.  I mean that she's told the same story that I've read 30+ times.  In fact, as I was reading it, I was thinking, Is this Hush, Hush?  The answer:  pretty much.

  • Writing.  It's easy to read, with the right balance between exposition and figurative language.  It doesn't depend on flowery language to carry the reader through a marsh of bad story like some of the parapseudos I've read.  The style was enough keep my interest (even though I was pissed about reading the formula--again).
  • Characters.  I like batshit people, so I appreciate when an author can write a nutso character realistically.  Dreadlocks tied up in little pom-poms?  Yes.  Freaky hair colors?  Yep.  Snappy outcast vernacular?  Yes!  But the characters were varied enough so that I didn't think Ms. Kate is a frustrated grown-up goth.  
  • Pace.  I always appreciate a story that has momentum.  I like to finish novels, and if a story lags, I get annoyed.  This novel is 450-ish pages, and I finished it in a day-and-a-half, including long breaks when I had to "work." 
  • Good ol' good vs. evil.  When it's done right, it can give me shivers.  Yeah, this one wasn't like that, but it tried.  I appreciate the effort.
  • SSDA (Same Shit, Different Author).  Self-explanatory.
  • Unfulfilled fallen angel promise.  When are these fallen angel stories gonna come through with the SATAN thing?  I'm very ready for some super evil, the oldest evil, the unconditional evil--but sexy.  It almost come through with the Hush, Hush plot, but it fell short when Patch turned into a love sap.  In Fallen, I wanted a twist on the fallen angel thing.  Alas, SSDA.
  • Setting.  A reform school could've been radical.  But no one did anything bad!  They were typical high school students, only some of them pierced their faces up.  I'd have liked some commentary on youth criminality or reform culture.  Obviously, the author just wanted to have an easy setting for rejects.  But she forgot to draw the rejects as they'd really be.
  • Kissing.  Yet another story that makes kissing a deadly pursuit.  Yet another story that has lips hovering all over the place and then fierce, mashing face sucking.  Yet another story that characterizes kissing as life changing.  SSDA.  (And a new subject for the Pro/Con page.)
  • Depth of character.  Yes, the characters are fun...but I don't give a damn about what happens to them.  Luce (who I was hoping would be Lucifer--wouldn't that have been a perfect twist?) is flat--another confused, yearning girl.  Daniel is another reluctant hero--just like Jace, Patch, Edward, and all the other dumbasses.  Cam is an under-developed baddy--not seductive enough, not evil enough, not dynamic.
  • No real mythos.  I'm ready for a novel that really gets into the mythos of angels--fallen or not--and shows some real effort for research.  Is it too much to expect authors to respect young minds enough to research their topics?  Why leave that up to old men authors like Elmore Leonard?  
  • The "shadows."  Like so much in the story, it takes too long to find out what they are, so by the time you do, you're annoyed by them.  Black, gooey tentacles that pulse around eternally on the ceiling, never really causing any damage.  I wanted the Blob.  How about some soul devouring?
  • Loose end.  What really happened with Trevor?  Did Cam light him on fire?  Did Daniel kill him out of jealousy?  Did Luce kiss him to death?
So the overall verdict?  Better than Hush, Hush, but that's not a full endorsement.  It'll go down as the novel that made me realize that I'm reading Wuthering Heights over and over and over.

Still, there must be something to the formula, or else I wouldn't keep reading.  There's got to be some cultural gender stuff happening here--more than the obvious.  After reading Fallen, though, I don't know if I can make it to my 100 goal.  And maybe I don't need to.

Next up, faeries and more vampires.  How about a vampire faerie?  Or a vampire angel?  Or a demon marmoset?  I'm desperate for something new!


Yesterday, as I plugged through Fallen, by Lauren Kate, I hit a wall.  How many times can I read the same story?


City of Fallen Angels

After reading Clockwork Angel, my hopes for Clary and Jace fizzled.  Not everyone can write a good Victorian-era novel from a modern keyboard.  Libba Bray--yes.  Cassandra Clare--doesn't look like it.  What Clare can do is write a pretty rad urban parapseudo.  City of Fallen Angels is proof that despite the bordering-on-fan-fiction feel of CA, Clare's still got something to deliver.

My previous comments on the novels in this series included a very culture-studies approach to the merits of the story.  Those comments still apply here--with a minor exception for the development of the Alec/Magnus homosexual relationship.  This parapseudo author does a great job dealing with issues of class, sexuality, race, gender, and contended space.  Plus there's sufficient groping to pique even the stuffiest reader's interest.

  • Character consistency.  Clary's still frustrating yet sympathetic.  Simon's still unsure of his awesomeness.  Jace is still a lovely prick.  Maryse is still a hen-peck. Isabelle is still boiling honey.  Magnus is still Magnus.  It makes it easier to pick up the story when you're reading something written by an author who really knows her characters.  Obviously, Clare has spent a lot of time romping with these people in her mind.  I'm a little disappointed that the characters have been slow to develop realistically--especially Jace--but more on that in the Bummers section below.
  • Getting a little racy!  Clary with her legs wrapped around Jace, up against the wall in a dark alley.  Clary whipping her shirt off and rolling around in her bed with topless Jace.  I STILL want to see Simon and Isabella behind closed doors!  Let's give Isabella a tangible sexuality.  Will it be as exciting as her usual oozing?  I'd imagine Simon would bring a new dimension to it. Looking forward to a little woofy style with Maia and Jordan.
  • Setting.  Once again, Clare provides a sexy, grungy, scary, concrete world.  (Reminds me of my college life in San Francisco.)  The characters move through the glamoured New York, and I'm thrilled to piggyback, experiencing corner diners, bachelor pads, the illustrious Institute, suburbia, and the city pavement.  It's just the right amount to keep me rooted in reality while I suspend my disbelief.  I'm so glad that we don't have to visit Italy in order to mingle with the Shadowhunter royalty (Twilight and Tempted was enough for me).  They can just pop through a portal and join the ichor-slinging brawl.
  • Story.  What could possibly happen now that Idris is saved and Clary/Jace can have legal relations?  A lot.  Although some of it's pretty predictable--Jace will be a jerk, Simon will have vampire stage fright, Clary will lament her estrogenic problems--the conflicts work, and the surprises are gnarly!  
  • Females are central to the whole damn thing.  Clary, Isabella, Maia, Jocelyn, Camille, Maureen, and Lilith. Yes, Lilith.  THE Lilith.  I'd have liked to see Lilith poke around earlier in the story--maybe befriend Isabella or something.  I'm glad to see Isabella softening a little, and I like the way Camille is developing into a horrible bitch.  These ladies drive the whole story, even if they're a little weak or wormy here and there.
  • Alec.  What happened to him?  Why's he all whiny and pouty?  I don't like the new jealous complainer that Alec's become.  I like his edge from the previous three novels.  The direction his relationship with Magnus is taking doesn't thrill me.
  • Jace's new reason to be an idiot.  It's very Edward Cullenish.  He doesn't want to hurt Clary, doesn't want to kill her.  So the best thing, obviously, is to avoid and ignore her--but then to profess his love every time she corners him.  Lame.  And the explanation at the end is a little too convenient.  Rune zombie?  No thanks.
  • Feels a little rushed.  The pacing of the previous three worked miracles.  CoFA could've been tweaked to stretch out the Lilith/Camille issue.  At the same time, the Tracksuit Killaz subplot could've taken up more time.  The big whammy at the end kinda just pops out there with no real lead up.  Fun for Paranormal Activity; not so fun for a rich novel.
  • No real risks.  I'm ready for someone important to die.  I vote for Jocelyn.  Either someone needs to die, or Jace to go away for a whole novel, or the Silent Brothers to kidnap Clary, or something else super shocking. 
Bottom line:  Really, really, really liked it (which is only slightly different from loving it).  It was nearly everything I'd hoped for, despite my minor complaints.  I don't want to wait another year for the next Clary/Jace complications.  Until then, I'll continue reading parapseudos that are--on the whole--chasing the general excellence of the Mortal Instruments series...and never getting even close to gaining.


Hush, Hush

Finally!  A parapseudo with strong enough writing that I didn't feel like I was mourning my mind as I read it.  When something is written well enough, I'm more likely to make concessions for story and character.  I'm hopeful to find a parapseudo that does it all.  While Hush, Hush isn't this elusive savior, it gives me hope.

  • Writing quality.  I want to elaborate more on this.  What the hell is good writing?  My college creative writing students have asked me that on many occasions--usually, of course, when it's evident that theirs isn't.  I usually keep it to ultra-fancy words:  engagingly robust...verisimilitudinous.  Becca Fitzpatrick commands her diction, controls her figurative language, economizes her imagery.  It's a rich and fast (like Aphrodite from House of Night).
  • Titillation.  I got the nether-region rollercoasters a couple times.  I disagree with the Amazon reviewers who call Patch another Edward.  Edward is like a silicon oven mitt.  Patch is like warm honey.  He's versed in aggressive innuendo, and you get the feeling that he's probably pretty good on the follow-through, too.
  • Realistic girl/boy attraction issues.  Of all the parapseudos I've read, this is the only one where the main male love interest is in a constant state of Must-Remove-Her-Pants.  Nora is scared of Patch, not necessarily because he's dark and mysterious--but because of he makes her want to unleash her inner passion flower.  And speaking of flowers, we have no idea whether she's a virgin or not, and there's no sense of humiliation that goes with her sexuality.  She's not thrilled about the attraction, but it's not an abomination.  She's not afraid that she'll lose her reputation, her pride, her soul.  And Patch certainly isn't worried about it, either.
  • Natural teen talk.  It's told from a sophomore's P.O.V., but it lacks the immaturity of that awkward adolescent phase.  It's also no "Dawson's Creek," where all the 15-year-olds speak like Troilus and Cressida.  Here I'll bring out the big gun:  verisimilitude.  Instead of ramming ridiculous slang into every corner of my brain (a la P.C & Kristin Cast), it's like having a conversation with one of my high school tutoring students.  
  • Stand-alone potential.  A reader could stop right here.  Yes, there are a couple more (so far), but the narrative arc plays out.  You don't feel like you're reading a set up for a slew of future exploits.  
  • A mother who gives a damn about what happens to her daughter.  To a point, anyway.  I get it:  what teen girl wants to read about a character with parents as strict as her own?  However, in so many of these novels (as I've commented before), the parents are absent, uncaring, foolish, blind, or otherwise incapacitated to the point that the protagonist must essentially raise her- or himself.
  • Mythos.  I love the idea of fallen angels, and in this one, I love the V scar where a fallen angel's wings have been ripped off.  I'd like a LOT more about the ranks of angels, their jobs, what roles they've played in history, etc.  And I'd like to see more than one fallen angel--maybe one who's more demonic than longing for humanity.  Then they could fight, ripping each others' shirts off and sweating all over the place!  Do angels sweat?
  • Characterization.  I have to admit that these people aren't the most dynamic I've encountered.  Patch remains Patchy.  Nora remains Norish.  Vee never learns.  I place Nora--the protagonist--between the two secondary characters because that's kind of where she is on my spectrum of interest.  Patch is definitely the most interesting of the three, and I always have a problem when I prefer the secondary characters.
  • Names.  First, the title.  Every time--and I mean every time--I read the title, I hear one of two things:  1) Paula Abdul singing "Rush, Rush" or 2) me being a bitch and chirping "Hush, hush, children!" when my college students are chatting when I'm trying to impart my immense wealth of indispensable knowledge unto them.  Then there's Patch.  How is Patch the name of a sexy fallen angel?  And Vee.  I'm not going to get into why that name bugs me.  I'm sure you can imagine.
  • Positioning of climax.  There is a massive amount of rising action, and it leads to a revelation that should've taken place much sooner.  In this way, Twilight got something right.  Bella figures it out pretty early, whereas Nora doesn't get into the angel stuff until the story's wrapping up.  Maybe that's a little extreme.  But I had a hard time with the wrap up.  It didn't seem rushed, really.  It was just all crammed into the last 1/3 of the story.  
  • Prologue.  It's disconnected from the rest of the story.  It takes place in some distant marshland like 500 years before Nora and Patch flirt their way through Maine.  I can go for that...as long as there's some sort of flashback here and there that links the prologue to the dynamics of the plot.  Or at least a couple tangible clues.  
  • Elliot and Jules.  These characters are placeholders.  Elliot actually has a reason to be there, but without that prologue connection, he's just a confusing ass.  Jules is so mysterious that he's a mystery until the end of the mysterious mystery of part of the plot. 
Despite the "Highway to Heaven" ending, the predictability of some events, the static characters, AND the imbalance of my good/bad list, I had a fantastic time reading this one.  I think I may force my husband to read it, and then practice innuendo-ing like Patch--and, yes, for this character, "innuendo" is indeed a verb.

The next one in this series is called Torment.  I only hope that it's not an authorial promise. 


Clockwork Angel

EDIT:  I re-read this post and was disappointed with the lack of wit.  What happened to my snark?  Why didn't I talk about the teen-porn?  I can only figure that this post is somehow paranormally linked to the novel itself--and, like the novel, lacks all the fabulous qualities of the author's usual voice.

Usually I hop right in when I write these things (as is probably obvious), but this one I'm really struggling with.  I don't know how to start because I don't know how I feel about the Clockwork Angel experience.  It's almost like Gemma Doyle and Jace Wayland got together and tried to write a joint autobiography--part Victorian England girl-with-altered-reality, part snarky-sexy-tortured Shadowhunter.

I don't want to say I'm disappointed because I really had fun reading it.  Maybe I just had elevated expectations for the first of The Infernal Devices series.  That's a lot coming from me, though.  I really have very lower-than-low expectations for most of the parapseudos I read.

  • Comfortable.  If you have enjoyed The Mortal Instruments series, you'll be generally pleased.  The writing quality remains some of the best in the genre, the characters all fit the mold well, and the action is still often breathtaking.  We all love to hear the first single off our favorite artist's album and bathe in the familiarity of the guitar or sigh along with the singer's voice. This first installment of The Infernal Devices is kinda like that.
  • The bad guys.  I adore the Dark Sisters.  They have the potential to fit in with some of my favorite evil bitches:  Elizabeth Bathory, blood bath maven; Cruella De Ville, PETA enemy # 1; Asajj Ventress from the new "Clone Wars" cartoon; and Nellie from "Little House on the Prairie."  That being said, I'd have liked to have seen much, much more of the Dark Sisters.  I hope to engage them again in the other installments of this series.
  • "Ichor" in the first sentence.
  • The Jem/Will partnership.  I can always appreciate a good light/dark juxtaposition.  It reminds me of my childhood.  I especially like this one because it reminds me of the Jim Nightshade/Will Holloway characters of Something Wicked This Way Comes.  These kinds of pairs--or parabatai, in Clareworld--become two parts of the same boy, really.  It gives the young girl reader the opportunity to safely lust after both the good guy and the bad boy at the same time.
  • Making the mythos.  I loved learning about Church's origins, and it was fun to see where the killing toys and freaky mechanics had come from.  
  • Robots. Is it too much to hope that one of the main characters will turn out to be an automaton?  Or is that too Star Trek?
  • More of the same.  When I finished reading City of Bones, I felt like I had read something important.  (See my earlier entry.)  There were layers that legitimized the story as something to be analyzed.  Clockwork Angel, though, unfortunately, didn't tap into that edginess, that significance.  It had the Downworlders, the Shadowhunters, and the Mundanes--and that was it.  Nothing new or shocking.  
  • Setting.  Most of it is inside.  I want to SEE Victorian England.  I want to smell it, fear it, move through it.  The New York of The Mortal Instruments was alive.  Clary experienced the expanse of the city, the suburbs, the Institute.  In this novel, we're stuck with Tessa in the Institute, with only a brief venture out.  I can see the argument that this mirrors the claustrophobia that Tessa may have felt in Victorian England, but I don't buy that.  She never complains about it.  In fact, she seems to like being inside all the time.  
  • Henry.  Poor, poor Henry.  He's a buffoon.  He's pathetic.  He's lame.  Whatever you want to call it, I want more.  These characters are always set up to change, yet I didn't get that really with Henry.   
  • Tessa.  I don't love her--yet.  Maybe in subsequent novels I will.  That does happen to me often.  However, I found myself drawn more to the mysteries of Jem/Will much, much more.
  • Will.  He's a little too much like Jace--egocentric, afraid to love, secretly pained.  His most redeeming quality is his care for Jem.
On her website, Clare has mentioned that The Infernal Devices can stand alone, or they can be read in zig-zag with upcoming The Mortal Instruments novels.  Herein lies the big problem: if I were a new reader and had just started with Clockwork Angel, I don't know that I'd be very interested in the sequel.  It doesn't have the heart of its companion novels--in character, setting, or plot.

I'm looking forward to meeting with Clary, Simon, and Jace next week in City of Fallen Angels.  I'm a little bummed that incest has been taken off the table, but I'm sure there'll be more juicy tension.  Let's just hope that Clare has revisited the story with as much passion as the first three.