Thursday, October 7, 2010

clockwork angel

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Hear that? That is the sound of time you could be spending reading Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. I will admit, I had low expectations for Clockwork Angel. I had previously read City of Bones, which I enjoyed but was not blown away or anything. I haven't yet continued on with The Mortal Instruments books. After reading Clockwork Angel, I really feel that Clare has come into her own as a writer. I felt this book, on the whole, was much more tighter than City of Bones. It held my attention hostage.

We open with our intrepid heroine, Tessa Gray making the journey from New York to dreary London. Upon arrival in London, Tessa steps into the Victorian equivalent of a sketchy van with Free Candy spray painted across the side. The Dark Sisters basically hand Tessa a letter written by her ne'r do well brother, Nate. Tessa is all, NATE we shall be reunited and one happy family again, and climbs into the carriage of the Dark Sisters. Clearly, we cannot trust ugly elderly women. Only trust the kind which looks as though they would knit you a sweater while you suck some Werthers butterscotch candy.(An aside: when I am an old woman do not trust me, as I will scream at you to get off my lawn in all my crotchety glory). Right-o. Tessa, at the hands of these women learns she can magically transform into another person. She, of course, does not take her capture/hostage situation lying down. Instead, she fights it tooth and nail. If you read the back cover, obvs, you know Tessa escapes. Of course this is when the story gets good.

I mean, omfg, there is magic galore, and mystical creatures and SHADOWHUNTERS. Of course, the more I learn about the Clave, the more I want to do a little jig in happiness. It's because I love the lore. It's so interesting. I actually quite like this rag-tag group of Shadow Hunters more than I do the ones in the Mortal Instruments. There is Jessamine, who is full of spunk. She's badass, but doesn't really want to be badass. Her character is a reflection of gender attitudes of the Victorian Era, where of course women have to be ladies, and they can't exactly do cool things like go out and fight demons if they want to land a rich hubby. Of course, this is upper class womens as all the poor ladies are just chillin out in a bobbin factory somewhere. However, in contrast to Jessamine is Charlotee Branwell who is in charge of the institute. Charlotte is made of win. She's a warrior. She is intelligent. She is a leader. She's basically the type of woman I want to be when I grow up. Aside from wearing a dress and being married, she sort of subverts the gender roles of the era. Mmmhmm. Oh, oh, oh. I should mention the boys.

There are boys. They of course form the two sides, whereas Tessa is the hypotenuse of the love triangle. While I am a bit bored with love triangles in general, this one is sort of fun. There is Jem who is from Shanghai which is full of corruption and danger and such. Also, JEM is PoC. So cool right? And he is all gentle and such. He's patient with WISDOM. Then, as you may gather from Twitter, is Will. Will is like pretty much every bad boy ever. He's kind of a jerk with a sad past. I do sort of feel bad for him, but not really. My pity jar is nearly empty. I won't elaborate on the boys, but I bet you can guess my 'team'. Yep, it's Jessamine, I think they should totes make out while Katy Perry soulfully sings I Kissed A Girl in the background.

Finally, there are flesh en-capsuled robots. I am not sure if this convinces you of the ultimate win residing inside Clockwork Angel, but it should. Also, do robots in Victorian Ages equal steampunk element? I am not exactly sure what Steampunk is, besides punks evaporating in steam, but from what I gather, it has to do with machinery in the Victorian era.

Here are some quotes I felt resonated with me:
"Whether you are physically," he said, "male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy-all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside." - pg. 283 (ARC copy).

This! What is on the inside does matter, kids!

"If there was one thing Tessa hated, it was being told that there were things she couldn't understand. Because she was young, because she was a girl--for any of a thousand reasons that never seemed to make any real sense." pg. 96 (ARC copy)

Sing it, sister.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins

It's over. The trilogy is finished. There will now need to be a new series that will have people waiting impatiently from year to year for the next installment. *Sigh*

MOCKINGJAY begins with Katniss shuffling through the ashy remains of District 12. Having survived her second Hunger Games, she has recovered enough from her injuries to visit the little that is left of her former home. Her concussion-ravaged brain is still trying to make sense of all that has happened.

When she is returned to the safety of District 13, Katniss must be gradually reintroduced to those from District 12 who survived, and she must find her place in her new surroundings. Her mother and Prim are busy every day caring for patients in the hospital, and Gale continues his recovery and slowly begins to work for the rebel cause in District 13. Katniss fills her days ignoring her district required schedule as she wanders from one isolated hiding place to the next.

It doesn't take long for 13's leaders to make it clear that they plan to be the ones to lead the rebels to victory against the Capitol and President Snow. Katniss is once more expected to be the symbol for that victory. She knows their goal is to make her the Mockingjay, but she hesitates to step forward immediately. Does she want the responsibility? Is she ready for what will most likely be her final living act?

When Katniss finally accepts the role of Mockingjay, she does so with stipulations, two of which are that Peeta and the other Hunger Games survivors must be rescued and she must be the one to end the life of President Snow. Her demands are met and the preparations begin. What follows is non-stop action filled with violence, torture, attacks, and destruction.

After reading THE HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING FIRE, I should have guessed that author Suzanne Collins would not make things easy for Katniss and her friends. She filled this last book with twists and turns as well as her usual direct, "in your face" moments that had me gasping through the first two books. Without including any spoilers, I'll say I found the ending acceptable and on-course with what I expected from both Collins and her characters. This is definitely a series that will be enjoyed by readers for years to come.