Tag Archives: romance

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

First Paragraph: “You’ve got to be kidding me,” the bouncer said, folding his arms across his massive chest. He stared down at the boy in the red zip-up jacket and shook his shaved head. “You can’t bring that thing in here.” The fifty or so teenagers in line outside the Pandemonium Club leaned forward to eavesdrop. It was a long wait to get into the all-ages club, especially on a Sunday, and not much generally happened in line. The bouncers were fierce and would come down instantly on anyone who looked like they were going to start trouble. Fifteen year-old Clary Fray, standing in line with her best friend, Simon, leaned forward along with everyone else, hoping for some excitement.

Review: City of Bones is an urban fantasy novel that follows Clary Fray as she discovers that hidden just beyond the world she knows is another one full of faeries, werewolves, vampires, and shadowhunters. Shadowhunters are warriors that hunt down and kill demons and other creatures that might harm humans. A shawdowhunter is what Clary would have been if her mother hadn’t purposely hidden her from that world. As always, you can only hide from your past for so long before it catches up with you, and soon Clary must enter this new world to save her mother from certain death.

I could hang out with this lady

Cassandra Clare is the only author I have seen that is so involved and connected to her fan base. She lives and breathes these books and seems eager to communicate with readers that love the series as much as she does. When I see an author so connected to her characters it makes them seem all the more real which makes City of Bones, and its following novels of the series, that much more of a pleasure to read.

The novel is written in third person but features different perspectives of characters, so the reader isn’t always following the heroine around. It’s as much of a novel about Clary as it is about Simon, or Jace, or any of the other characters. The advantage of this style is that it breaks up the monotony that a single perspective can sometimes give, but the drawback is that it takes out a lot of suspense. At times I knew so much more than the protagonist I became frustrated with how oblivious she was. And when you’re frustrated with the protagonist it makes it difficult to sympathize with them. But I still prefer this style because it gives the reader a chance to see a focus on their favourite characters other than the herione.

"Hey pop, what do you think's outside New York?" "No more of these dreamer thoughts Jimmy."

Clare’s writing style is something I actually enjoy. Nothing reads as being particularly awkward and she has a more casual style of writing that I think sits well with the novel’s demographic. The novel, for the most part, takes place in New York city and while the setting is well developed there, it’s difficult to imagine anything beyond New York. City of Bonescomes across as a novel more about characters, relationships and action sequences than the world it takes place in. I don’t imagine that this was the author’s intention but I found it difficult to imagine anything remotely supernatural occurring beyond the city. People that leave New York in the novel are like middle school friends on facebook. You know they exist, and you might have a moment when you think “remember so-and-so?”, but ultimately they have no influence or detrimental life significance.

The best thing about City of Bones is the seamless combination of romance and ass-kicking. I like a mushy love connection like any other woman who cries watching Disney movies, but I also love a good slasher and gross-out fest. The worst thing about City of Bones is that I can’t picture myself walking the streets of New York and being transported into memories of the book, and let’s be honest, I’m pretty sure J.K. Rowling is the only person on this planet that can make people wet themselves with excitement about the prospect of getting on a train in Britain.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Magic, Romance, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy, YA Fiction

Matched by Allyson Condie

First Paragraph: Now that I’ve found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night? My wings aren’t white or feathered; they’re green, made of green silk, which shudders in the wind and bends when I move—first in a circle, then in a line, finally in a shape of my own invention. The black behind me doesn’t worry me; neither do the stars ahead. I smile at myself, at the foolishness of my imagination. People cannot fly, though before the Society, there were myths about those who could. I saw a painting of them once.

"I'm like Obama for these people."

Review: Matched is an faux-utopian I swear I should coin that term universe. Their government acts much like a librarian on crack and meticulously sorts everyone into a place in society that has the highest percentage of universal success. Based on each individual’s unique characteristics they are sorted into categories deciding everything from who to marry, which food to eat, and which trees to plant, to how many weights to lift at the gym. Cassie, the novel’s heroine, is initially primarily concerned only with who she will be matched with at the matching banquet. Quite simply they arrive at this banquet, a computer tells them who they will marry, and then they begin a process of getting to know the person. At this point suddenly an image of Jdate.com pops into my mind as I think of how similar this is to internet dating. Except of course for the fact that if you meet the person and they have giant buck teeth and a unibrow you can’t change your mind.

The problem Cassie has it that for a quick second before her announced match is revealed the computer flashes an image of another boy named Ky Markham. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN.

Since she is the heroine of the novel it would be completely unacceptable in every way for her to simply move on, so she pursues Ky and ultimately falls in love with him instead. I would say spoiler alert but it’s such an obvious outcome that it seems unnecessary to do so. Thankfully not everything in the novel is so predictable and a lot of twists and turns develop out of Cassie’s new interest in Ky. Cassie starts to figure out that the perfect uptopia she lives in, is in fact, not as it appears.

"... wait for it... it's coming... I can feel it... just wait..."

What’s most commendable in this novel is how Condie took an initially flighty and shallow girl and developed her into an intelligent and inquisitive young woman—if I can say so without sounding like a mother at her teenage daughter’s high school graduation. Quite often I don’t particularly like female protagonists as they tend to blend in with the background. The male lead always seems more interesting likely because they have to be unique to catch the protagonist’s attention. Sadly, Matched is no different. Ky Markham is still 500 times more exciting, character wise, than Cassie. Even with her acts of rebellion and new outlook on life, when reading a scene with Cassie I found myself wondering what Ky was doing.

While I did enjoy the novel and will definitely be reading more of this series, for its inability to make its protagonist more likable than her love interest, I highly doubt it will be counted amongst my favourite reads. With more of these sorts of faux-utopian novels coming out (Hunger Games, Matched, The Maze Runner, Uglies, Year of the Flood, I could seriously go on forever…) Matched is still able to come up with a fresh concept. This makes me happy because at the rate people are going I’m afraid we might run out of ways to destroy the world as we know it, and give birth to a new world where people are ignorant to their own oppression.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Faux-Utopia, Romance, YA Fiction

Hook #2: Ezra Cloud

There had always been something peculiar but fascinating about Ezra Cloud. Charlie saw it in the way he walked—a confident stride even with the tip of his right foot turned inwards. He had the appearance of being a boy of fortunate mistakes. His haircut was asymmetrical and most days he dressed in a mismatched array of colours and trinkets always paired with dark blue jeans. He was a boy, she thought, unlike other boys.

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Back of the Book – In the ruins of  a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one girl and one boy between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before–and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning  to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices and weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Review – The Hunger Games has become a hot topic with it’s rising popularity as a YA (young adult) novel and the upcoming release of the theatrical adaptation in 2012 starring Jennifer Lawrence (Actress, Academy Award Nominee). I will not be the first to say that this novel deserves its new found popularity. It’s a little bit of Battle Royal and 1984 with the added flare of today’s reality show craze.

I’m just going to say it straight up, who doesn’t find the idea of a fight to the death exciting? While most people today would turn away in the disgust at the prospect of watching a reality show depicting just that, in The Hunger Games people living in the Capitol anticipate these games each year.

When I picked up the book I didn’t expect to be truly entertained until the games started, but was pleasantly surprised to find myself wracked in suspense from the beginning. As a reader you only know as much as the heroine Katniss Everdeen does, so it’s a very immersive experience because as she’s sitting on a train wondering what the firetruck is next, you’re wondering the same thing. Every step along the way you’re discovering this new world with her, which is a feeling that readers want to experience—few things are better for an avid reader than getting lost in a book.

Katniss Says "everytime a vampire falls in love with a human I kill a puppy... and eat it."

The Hunger Games does have a romance aspect to it, but the plot never falls secondary to the romance. If I had to say it simply, sometimes Katniss just has bigger shit to deal with. She’s a character that I think could provide girls with a much stronger literary role model since Bella Swan has them crying in their bedrooms and listening to Evanescence. If Katniss needs to get something done she has no problem doing it herself. She isn’t a princess waiting for someone to save her, she’s saving herself. That being said, for readers who happen to be helpless romantics like myself, you won’t be disappointed as the novel reaches a nice healthy medium between the romance and action.

"Hey it's... Mike? No... maybe... Joe?... is it Jake?

If I had to say anything negative about the novel it would be that a lot of characters are introduced and sometimes it’s difficult to keep up. However, this may also just be because if I don’t find a character particularly interesting I tend to ignore their role. Thankfully Collins doesn’t superfluously add characters and I found that each character, however minor they seemed, later in the series had a significant purpose or was part of a major event.

Like most YA novels the writing wasn’t itself didn’t seem particularly noteworthy, this really is a novel driven by plot and development of a few main characters. And best of all, Collins isn’t shy about giving gruesome details, so people tuning into for the action will have a lot to look forward to.

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Filed under Action-Adventure, Book Reviews, Faux-Utopia, Romance, YA Fiction