Friday, March 25, 2011

The Mortal Instruments

"The boy never cried again, and he never forgot what he'd learned: That to love is to destroy, and that to be loved, is to be the one destroyed."
-Jace Wayland.

About a year ago, I started hearing things about the Mortal Instruments trilogy. I didn't hear anything specifically good or bad, I was just hearing things. I decided to check them out, and after reading a couple reviews, I decided to not read them. They seemed like a waste of time, and they didn't cross my mind again. That is, until they came up in conversation with one of my friends about a month ago. She had asked me if I had heard about them and/or read them, and I told her that I had heard of them but never bothered to get them from the library. She urged me to read them, and two weeks ago, I found myself sitting on my bed and staring at my bookshelf, which held all three books, shiny in their plastic library covers. I had three weeks to read them, and I hadn't even decided if I really wanted to yet or not.

I read a couple of different teen and parent reviews at this awesome site and ultimately came to the decision that if I really just wasn't interested in them or if they were terrible, I could just put them down and return them to the library early.

But I opened City of Bones, and instantly, I was in love.

The Mortal Instruments trilogy introduces you to a world hidden to mundane eyes; a world with faeries and warlocks, vampires and werewolves, angels and Shadowhunters; a world under humans' very noses. The entire concept of a society underneath ours is so intriguing, it kept me reading. And reading. And reading.

The story follows three main characters: Clary Fray, Jace Wayland, and Simon Lewis, as well as a host of supporting characters.

The characters are really what made the story for me; they are all increasingly witty and loveable. I rarely laugh out loud when I read a book, and this series had my parents staring at me worriedly while I howled with laughter at the sarcastic words of Jace or the nerdiness of Simon or the dry, caustic humor of Magnus Bane.

I will say this, though, one of the biggest weaknesses in these books was, coincidentally, the main character, Clary Fray. Why, you might be asking?

Can anyone say, "Mary Sue"?

Now, you might wonder, "what is a Mary Sue?" Urban Dictionary defines it as, "A female fiction character who is so perfect as to be annoying. She is your whiny, wimpy, pathetic female character who can't seem to do much of anything except cry and get herself into trouble that the romantic interest of the fic has to rescue her from."

Mmhmm. Basically. That was really one of the only things that annoyed me, though.

This series, like the Hunger Games, but maybe even more so, is extremely, extremely gory and violent. The only things I had ever heard about this series were about the romantic storyline, so I was somewhat unprepared for all the blood and gore that was woven deeply into the books. There are plenty of long, drawn-out action scenes, which are balanced by the heavy romantic theme throughout the entire series.

Overall, these books were a very nice read. I don't believe they were as well written as some other young-adult series that I've read, but they were interesting, and they kept me busy for a while. The series was strangely addictive, and I found myself unable to put the books down, which hasn't happened for me in a long while.

I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment, City of Fallen Angels, which comes out April 5.

Bravo, Cassandra Clare. I applaud you.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hush, Hush

Patch's eyes were black orbs. Taking in everything and giving away nothing. Not that I wanted to know more about Patch. Since I hadn't liked what I'd seen on the surface, I doubted I'd like what was lurking deep inside.

One section that I have not gone near in young-adult fiction is Paranormal Romance. Are you aware that it has its own section in bookstores now? It's under that title. Paranormal Romance. Seriously. A whole set of shelves dedicated to vampires and werewolfs and other things of that sort.

Thank you, Twilight.

Please note the sarcasm in those typed words.

Besides all of the vampire series, one thing that I have noticed growing steadily in popularity with teenage girls are book series written about fallen angels. It's not too big yet, but I can see it being very much so in the future.

I absolutely refuse to read anything that centers around vampires, but I'd heard things from different people about this whole fallen angels idea, so I decided to give it a shot. It seemed like an okay idea at the time.

I am now a much wiser person and see the foolishness in this notion of mine.

I decided that as good a place as any to start would be with the book Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick.

A few factors went into choosing this particular book. A main point in its favor was the cover. I would want to own this book without even reading it just so I could have it sitting prettily on my bookshelf. The picture is haunting and mysterious and it makes one want to at least look at the back cover to see what it's about.

The name also intrigued me. It's so vague. Hush, Hush. Well, that could mean anything! It again makes a person wonder what the book could possibly be about.

Another factor was the number of people that I knew that had read it. I'd heard that it was good from one person and didn't think to ask the opinions of anybody else. One good review is all I need, right?


I opened the book and instantly, it had me hooked. Why? I don't know. The prologue was rather fascinating, perhaps that was why.

But everything after that: not so much.

The book is told in first person, from the main character (obviously), Nora Grey's, point of view.

Nora is a sophomore in high school. After the seating arrangements have been switched around in biology class, she gets paired with a boy named Patch, who turns out to be a fallen angel.

Okay, seriously. Patch? Patch? It sounds like a name for a puppy or something; not for an apparently mega-hot guy in your class at school.

Nora constantly proved to have little to no good judgment. Patch is continually sexually inappropriate around her, and she does nothing to stop him. He stalks her, and she doesn't say a thing. She even goes as far as to allow him to invite himself into her house while she's home alone.

So, apparently, if your stalker is good-looking, he's totally cool and stuff, and there's no way he would take advantage of you, because he's so hot.

Haha. Hahahahaha.

I will give this book one thing: It was incredibly suspenseful. That is probably the sole reason I pushed through and finished the book out; I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

I will admit, though, that the climax was actually rather disappointing. Don't read with too high hopes in way of plot.

So, there's seven hours of my life I'll never get back.

And the moral of this story is:

Paranormal Romance is a waste of time, whether it has to do with vampires or not.

In my humble opinion, of course.

The Hunger Games

"I keep wishing I could think of a way to... to show the Capitol they don't own me. That I'm more than just a piece in their Games."
-Peeta Mellark.

The Hunger Games were more or less my first introduction into the world of young adult fiction. I read them about a year ago, and since then, I've been frequenting the teen section at the library and bookstore.

My friend was the one who first convinced me to read The Hunger Games. She walked up to me, asked me if I was reading anything at the moment, and upon hearing my reply of 'no' reached into her bag and handed me the first book in the trilogy. "Read this," she said. "It's amazing."

And I must say, I completely agree.

The Hunger Games is a dystopian read; set in post-apocalyptic North America. A large country by the name of Panem inhabits the continent; consisting of thirteen districts and a glorious Capitol city.

Once, though, the districts rebelled against the Capitol, resulting in the destruction of District 13 and the devastation of the rest of the country. To remind the rebels of their terrible mistake; to punish them; the Capitol instated the Hunger Games, a competition held every year, where one boy and one girl from every District, between the ages of twelve and eighteen, must be sent to the Capitol to fight to the death, where only one will emerge as the Victor. Everything is televised, publicized, and heavily glorified.

The story revolves around a sixteen-year-old girl living in District 12 by the name of Katniss Everdeen. At the beginning of the book, her younger sister Primrose is chosen to go to the Capitol for the Games, and Katniss volunteers in her stead. Katniss must not only survive the Games, but deal with a romance between her and another tribute from District 12, all the while deciding if she is willing to kill strangers her own age as a pawn of the government.

I adore this trilogy. If I were to teach a class on how to write good young-adult fiction that will hold the short attention span of teens while being insanely tastefully written, I would use this series as an example. I have yet to meet anybody who has read these books and not liked them. I also know of several adults who adore them.

I will say this, though; this series is very, very violent, and dark as well. Not as dark as, say, Harry Potter (which in my opinion got very dark towards the end), but it's still a tad depressing.

I, myself, got really into these books. I read The Hunger Games over the course of two days and Catching Fire took me one other day. I finished Catching Fire back in February of 2010, so I had to wait quite awhile for Mockingjay. Which, by the way, took me, like, ten hours to read.

My point here is: Simply put, these books are fantastic. I definitely recommend them to anyone in search of a gripping read.