Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mini Reviews

These are books that I've read recently that for one reason or another I don't want to do a full review of.  I'll just write a quick bit about each so I can still say I've reviewed all the books I've read at the end of the year.

I'm not doing a full review because even though I don't know John Green I've watched enough of his videos that I feel like I do and so I don't think I am capable of giving an unbiased opinion.  I will say that I picked it up on my way home from work on the day it was released and then read the whole thing before going to bed.  I was a bit under the weather so between my running nose and the sad content of the book I went through an entire box of tissues.  If you don't like tear-jerkers though don't let that turn you off.  I normally don't either but this book made me feel 'all the things' (as John Green himself said) not just sad.  I never felt like I do with so many other tear-jerkers (I'm looking at you Mitch Albom!) that he was writing for the purpose of making me cry and making the easy choices to do so.  Instead I felt like Green just really needed to tell this story and he couldn't tell it without the sad bits--that the tears were not an end in themselves but a side effect of being really involved with characters who were just living their lives.  The narrative style certainly isn't for everyone but if, like me, you like it when people point out the incorrect use of 'literally' and you find comments like "he was a tenured professor in the Department of Slightly Crooked Smiles" amusing then this is the book for you my friend!  Even if you don't pick up the book I strongly suggest you start following the Vlogbrothers and DFTBA! You can see the author read the first chapter aloud here:
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: Buy it or check it out today!

While I enjoy this series I put it in the category of mindless fun and so my expectations for it are never exactly high.  Even so this latest installment disappointed me.  Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for it, but the previous book in the series wrapped up a plot line that had been happening since the beginning and seemed to end things in a satisfying way, so I thought this book would reboot the series a bit.  Instead Clare just took the few loose ends remaining and unravelled them further which felt a bit forced to me and felt like a missed opportunity to introduce some new plots or even characters. The thing that annoyed me most however was the relationship between the romantic leads.  I was willing to go along with the crazy plot twists that kept them apart for the first three books but now I feel like Clare is just making up ridiculous barriers to the relationship while still prattling on about how they're meant to be together and my patience for it is wearing thin.  Just let them be together already!  With all they've been through she could have at least let them be happy for half a book before creating a new source of tension between them.  Honestly despite their apparent overpowering and undying love for each other if one of them came to me for advice I'd tell them to end it because nothing is worth this much drama.  They're young--they'll find love again before too long.  And Clare needs to realize that there are more ways to get readers involved with characters and turning pages than leaving their relationship status undetermined.  She needs to leave the world of fan fiction behind and learn how to write non-relationship drama plots.  With that said though I'll still probably read the next book.  I have no self-control.
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare: Buy it or check it out today!

Reading a book from Clare's other series so soon after reading one from the first made me realize how much weaker the female characters are in this one.  I realize it's set in the Victorian era so there's some justification of it, but still both series have a female lead and a girl who lives in the headquarters and in Mortal Instruments the lead doesn't shy away from fights even before she's really trained for it and has a single mother and chooses to train to be a warrior and the resident girl is already a fierce warrior portrayed as just as strong if not more than the guy characters.  Where as in the Infernal Devices the main character is forced into training purely as a self-defense precaution and feels scandalized by wearing boys clothes and guilty for acting upon her desires and constantly defines herself by her relationships to the men in her life and the resident girl is vain and conceited and completely uninterested in fighting or being helpful in any way and is easily swayed by a man.  The thing that annoyed me most however was that (highlight for spoiler) Tessa gets engaged at the end of this novel supposedly to make her life more secure because heaven forbid she be left on her own without a man in her life.  I realize people married younger back then but it still annoys me-especially after the teen couple on Glee got engaged-it's a frakkin epidemic!  Hopefully the female characters will get stronger at the series progresses.
Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare: Buy it or check it out today!

Maybe I've just read too much series fiction lately so I'm more critical of it, but while I enjoyed this novel I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first installment.  This book takes place in an entirely different place than the first for most of the story and while it was an interesting city I was eager to read more of the museum and disappointed that there wasn't much of it in this installment.  I liked the new characters, but once again there were already so many characters in the first novel that adding even more just confused things.  I don't feel like I got to know the new characters that well because Tanner kept flashing back to the old ones and her attempts to include everyone stretched the narrative a thin and left me feeling like I didn't get enough of anyone.  The characters didn't have as big arcs as in the first novel and their development was thinner.  The first novel also ended satisfyingly with the plot being completed while leaving some loose ends for the next novel whereas this one leaves with the characters in a much more precarious situation and I am not a fan of cliff-hangers. (Curse you Westerfeld!)  Still I did enjoy the quirks of the new city and their Mardi Grasesque festival of lies and I also enjoyed the new characters--they even added a talking cat which I'm a sucker for.  I'll just have to hope that there's more of Pounce in the next novel.  You know I can't resist a good Artful Dodger character.
City of Lies by Lian Tanner: Buy it or check it out today!

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