Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2) by Cassandra Clare

Rating: 3/5

A little background might help shed light on my feelings towards this book. I loved the Mortal Instruments and was expecting to love The Infernal Devices. So when I read Clockwork Angel, I was disappointed and only gave it two stars and a "meh" review. I felt the characters were shallow copies of the ones in the Mortal Instruments and didn't care for them at all. Knowing that, I started reading Clockwork Prince with a grain of salt. I didn't expect to like it. But in the time between books, I have also read quite a few other books in this genre (YA urban fantasy), and can now appreciate that at least Clare has skill with words, even if her characters and dare I say it plot lines are lacking in inspiration. So I was able to enjoy this book more than I expected.

Lately I have to give props to YA characters that don't make me roll my eyes, gag and/or punch them in the face for being completely schizophrenic emo idiots. That only happened once in this book, at the very end (the whole Henry/Charlotte thing), although as the book went on I did find the love triangle between Tessa, Jem and Will becoming not only trite, but kind of awkwardly creepy. Did anyone else feel really uncomfortable about it? I can't quite put my finger on why (besides the fact that it's an unoriginal, overly dramatic plot device).

The strange thing is, when I started this book I was firmly team Jem, but the development of their relationship has paradoxically changed my mind. Which doesn't matter, because I'm guessing that in the next book Jem is going to die and Tessa'll end up with Will anyway. It's hard to care much, I can't summon much sympathy for Tessa. The author tries very hard to make something of her character, but to me she lacks personality. She's too watery, mediocre and predictable to be an effective heroine. Still, the book was a decent read and I appreciate Clare's attention to her craft.

See my reviews for Clockwork Angel (#1) and Clockwork Princess (#3)

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Rating 2.5/5

Okay, we get it, Hawthorne, the minister is pale and weak with guilt and Pearl is fairy-like. Hester is the model of a subdued martyr and should be let out for good behaviour. Look. I get why this is a "classic". I really do. It's a marvel of the English language. But as a novel, I didn't much like it. It had its moments, of course, but it also had a lot of flaws. Did I mention it was repetitive? It was repetitive to the point of being histrionic. Also, I may be so far removed from Puritanism that I couldn't help sometimes thinking to myself "this whole situation is completely ridiculous". I found it very hard to relate to anyone in this story. I've read books about people in similar situations - oppressed, discriminated against - and I've always been able to feel compassion for their struggle. I found that difficult with these characters. As an expert in self-defeat, I should be able to relate, but I don't. Hawthorne subtly raises a lot of societal and religious questions and that is to his credit. I just wish he'd actually taken a stand and provided an answer to some of them. Instead we are left with a mild uneasiness, nobody is vindicated and we've supposedly learned a lesson about keeping dark secrets. Except that wasn't what I wanted the lesson to be about. I wanted it to be about how stupid religion is to punish people for being human. Maybe that's there too, but nobody in the book itself seemed to get it, and that's unsatisfying.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Silence (Hush, Hush, #3) by Becca Fitzpatrick

Rating: 1/5

Jesus Christ, they'll publish any old garbage these days as long as it's in the form of a YA paranormal series. I thought this was the last book, so after barely getting through the first two I felt compelled to finish the trilogy. Lo and behold, not only was this book worse than the previous two, it seems it's not over. Thing is, I give less of a crap about crazy Nora and her idiotic friends than ever. Fitzpatrick may keep writing them, but I'm done reading.