Book Review: City of Bones (Cassandra Clare)

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Plot: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know… 

My sister was campaigning that I  read this, hands wildly thrown in the air, that it was good and I needed to read this (you get the idea). I needed a healthy break from Grey’s Anatomy (seriously too attached), so it was a great time to pick up a new book series.

I think we all know these YA books are such hits with their population group because it tells the story of a teen who realizes that she really is different, and that it isn’t just her wildly out of control hormones making her feel excluded. I happen to still like them – they are fun and campy and you can use them as “filler” books between more serious reads.

City of Bones is a good example of this. Clary is likable, Jace is a good love interest. Jace has an attitude as big as the Great Wall of China so that makes him an entertaining character even when you want to punch him, which is quite often. There is a regrettable love triangle going on between Clary’s best friend Simon, Clary and Jace, and that is really typical and not too unexpected, but I still an arc like this as I consider it lazy writing. Imagine a series where two characters are completely into each other and a third doesn’t have to get hurt? For all Tris’ many mistakes, she and Four in the Divergent series never deviate from each other. But it does play into the dreamworld of a teen girl who wishes that not only one, but two, really handsome guys can pine after her

Simon is also a pretty cool only-human character (there needs to be one in every YA book). He is sweet and it is annoying that he lost his superior position in Clary’s life just because she realized her true identity. I hope he is around throughout the series. He’s a funny guy.

So if you’ve read the book you will know there is a major plot twist at the end. It made me furious furious furious (probably as intended). I hope some magic happens and it un-plots itself because I just can’t deal with this.

The book felt about a hundred pages too long. Gosh, the ending is just too drawn out and the author could have kept a few paragraphs off the book and still have gotten to the end like she did.

So now that I have bitched about the bad things, I will tell you that this is easy and light reading. The lore is explained as the book continues and it is as imaginative as we can hope from a genre that has explored every single avenue repeatedly. There are demon hunters, werewolves, vampires, faeries and an entire underworld that hosts them. The focus is on the demon hunters, and how snobby and elite they can be. The villain is all around bad and unforgiving, and not unlike Hitler in his beliefs. He is mad and determined and not even remotely afraid in taking out the people that needs to be taken out in order for him to succeed.

The main protagonist Clary is determined and can deal – she isn’t needy or silly or whiney, and she does her thing. I liked that about her, because too often female protagonists in their own story end up depending on every male available. Clary isn’t like that, and while she may be minuscule, she remains someone to be reckoned with.

If you like the genre, you will definitely like this. I will pick up the movie (even though it has terrible ratings), and maybe even the series – I see that got cancelled too – just to see whether their casting matches to my imagination

Have you read the series? No spoilers please!

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Movie Review: Fallen (2016)

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Plot: A young girl finds herself in a reform school after therapy since she was blamed for the death of a young boy. At the school she finds herself drawn to a fellow student, unaware that he is an angel, and has loved her for thousands of years.

Rotten Tomatoes gives Fallen a 7% rating. A really unfair 7% rating. Look, the movie starts with a type of introduction that was clearly stolen from the Lord of The Rings intro (I kid you not), complete with a Galadriel-esque voice over and mystique images. Then it proceeds to the teenage-on-earphones driving in scene so reminiscent from Twilight that I didn’t expect too much. All these movies hope to become the sleeper hit that the first Twilight film was, and they all copy at least one or two aspects of that film.

I wasn’t such a fan of the book Fallen when I read it a couple of years ago, but that had more to do with the writing style than the actual content. Also, are all schools for troubled youth beautiful old mansions or is this just Hollywood?

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Anyway, Fallen is a surprisingly okay film for the tired Young Adult genre that has seen more misses than hits the last few years. Fatal flaw or not, I have a weakness for these films and always end up getting a copy. They don’t have to be good for everybody for me to give it a chance. There are some scenes which are remarkably silly (angels fighting in clouds), but for the most part I was interested and wanted to keep watching. The chemistry between the three leads are great, and the support cast, notably Lola Kirk as Penn, provided enough color to the film to keep it going. She’s hilarious and did the whole nerdy girl perfectly. Also, the two male parts of the love triangle never gets any real animosity going between them.

I liked the story well enough – the angels who didn’t choose sides when Lucifer and God split were sentenced to earth, and that is where one angel (hint, he’s a handsome blonde teenager), fell in-love with a teenage girl (hint, she’s a beautiful brunette), and as a result, this angel damned all the remaining angels, both good and bad, to a lifetime on earth. They are generically white, light angels versus heavy eyeliner dark makeup so that we can definitely know who is on whose side. Naturally beautiful blonde angel guy is stuck pining for eternity, and every 17 years gets to fall in-love again as his true love meets him and dies as soon as they kiss. Pretty sad, I know. Luckily for us, Luce’s reincarnation this time is “different”, and they share a smooch only to discover that she’s not dying and there is hope for them this time around.

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The film has a satisfactory grungy look and tries hard to be hardcore. Since I am about as “hardcore” as a pink marshmallow, I was impressed with the scenes of a metal club (if you can overcome the fact that these troubled teens break out of their dormitory with loud bikes) and found it satisfactorily cool.

I might even pick up the books again to see if they are better this time around. It definitely wasn’t a bad way to spend an hour and thirty minutes, and I won’t scream loudly against picking it up again at some stage.

Rating: 6.5/10

Book Review: How To Hang A Witch (Adriana Mather)

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I’m not sure how exactly Zoe manages to find these interesting and obscure reads, but sooner rather than later I saw symptoms of what would invariably lead to a book hangover for her. I was intrigued enough to be interested, and following her recommendation (we only refer books we know the other will like), and getting a hard copy (quite hard to do, I assure you, I was looked at as if I was perhaps a witch myself after inquiring this interesting title at the local book store), I started reading. It was delicious, not knowing one thing about the book, and the originality and suspense of the novel kept me engrossed and finished it within three days. Reading a new book is risky – so much time spent on something that might not work out! – But I was well rewarded. I won’t say too much about the story – but it is YA with some interesting twists, and the high school setting and typical teenage bitchiness is perfectly mixed with the spookiness of Salem and its tainted history. I’ve always found the Witch Trials really interesting, and they are well explored in this book.

How To Hang A Witch reads really easily and fluently, and the book does not drag or have events that shouldn’t have been included. The characters are likable – especially Sam, who really suffers from the children in her school, unknown forces and how to deal with her father’s illness, but she’s luckily never marketed as self-pitying or a wimp.

I started getting suspicions on who the main villain was when I reached about 75% completeness of the book, and was proven correct. It’s a great turn of events and suitably nasty, and those last few pages were intense and anxiously read.

I am just a bit sulky about how it ended – but since I saw that there is another book out, I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Although pretty sure I can’t actually like you if you don’t like this book, I would recommend it to people who generally enjoy YA. It’s not a genre for everyone, but I do hope that those who pick it up really enjoy themselves!

Rating: 8.5/10