I said that I would continue my research into Cassandra Claire, and I said I would flip through this book again to decide what I thought of it . . . and I did both. It gave me a migraine and broke my faith in humanity all over again, but I did it.
I don't change 5-star reviews to 1-star reviews on a whim. I don't do it for any reason other than my own personal opinion of the thing that I'm reviewing. My opinion of this book has crashed and burned. To all the people I've talked about these books with, to all the people who've heard me praise them, I'm very, very sorry. I can't have City of Ashes displaying 5 stars on my shelves any longer. I can't.
I'm going to explain a part of why this is. My rant is in italics, the actual review is below it.
Have you ever heard of a Finnish band called Nightwish? They're classified as symphonic metal or operatic metal. We heard some samples of their music online, and I was blown away. For weeks, I absolutely adored them. We collected all of their albums, and they became one of my sister's favorite bands.
Their singer's name was Tarja Turunen. She's an amazing singer and really a very cool, wonderful person. She was with Nightwish for years, I think she was even with them when they started. These people had been friends forever and toured over most of the world together.
Nightwish recorded a couple of concerts for DVD's. The last one they did, "The End of an Era" I think it's called, was advertised left and right as Tarja Turunen's last concert.
But here's the hitch: Tarja didn't want to leave the band. She loved her work. If you watch that concert, you can see that she's having a great time. It's so heartbreaking and frustrating.
That night, the guys from the band departed and left Tarja a written note telling her goodbye, you're fired, etc. A NOTE. After decades of friendship and all they'd accomplished, they didn't even go to her in person and tell her. And she didn't do anything wrong, either - they were just annoyed that she had a personal life outside the band.
But the story isn't over yet. Tarja's replacement was with these guys for two albums. She toured all over the place with them and did her absolute best for them. One day though, she had to go to the hospital - it was food poisoning or something spontaneous and relatively minor. She was in there overnight, and THE NEXT DAY she learned BY READING that she'd been fired and already replaced by a new singer.
I just.....I can't even.....
I won't listen to Nightwish anymore. Never ever, unless I'm trying to cheer up my sister, who still loves them. I can't, because I hate the other band members. I can't hear their music without wanting to grind my teeth.
That is Cassandra Clare, except she's even worse. As much as I despise the Nightwish guys, I can admit that they made some good music. I spent two hours this morning skimming through City of Ashes, and honestly? I'm having serious trouble deciding why I loved these books in the first place.
I'm not the kind of person who can overlook stuff like that. I can't enjoy listening to Nightwish's music because I'm disgusted with the band members, and hearing their music makes me think of them, which makes me angry. I won't support them anymore.
I won't support Cassandra Clare anymore, either. Her personal behavior was the first thing that made me want to drop her books from 5-star ratings to 1-stars. But there are other reasons, too.
There are so many little things. A phrase here, a paragraph there, a line of dialogue or a description or anything really, that will have me scratching my head or scowling. I've read some weird writing styles, okay? Not all of them agree with me. If I have to stop in the middle of a paragraph and stare at a particular word choice to try and figure out what it means, something is not right.
I'll find an example or ten, it's so easy since they're all over every page.
Here's one on the first page I opened:
His eyes gleamed, narrow and shining like the moon at a quarter full.
The bartender, Freaky Pete, just looked at the boy and shook his head in disgust. If the boy hadn't been a Shadowhunter, Maia guessed, Pete would have tossed him out of the Moon, but instead he just walked to the other end of the bar and busied himself polishing glasses.
"Actually," said Bat, who was unable to stay out of anything, "we don't serve it because it's really crappy beer."
The boy turned his narrow, shining gaze on Bat, and smiled delightedly.
Let me explain. In the first sentence of that quote and the last sentence, Clare decided to describe his eyes as "narrow and shining". Not only did she repeat the use of one word, but she used TWO of them, back to back, within four paragraphs, to describe the same thing. That's some awesome vocabulary she has, isn't it?
And Bat is unable to stay out of anything. What . . . ? Any argument or conversation, I think she means. Otherwise he would see an erupting volcano and just have to jump down into it, right?
This scene, by the way, is where Jace goes to a werewolf bar to tease the patrons. The wolves are mourning because one of their children was just brutally murdered, and Jace makes a point of insulting them for being upset about it.
Some hero. Are we supposed to look up to this guy?
This scene also points out that Shadowhunters, no matter how horribly they're behaving, can't be driven out of a Downworlder bar. Because they're so much more special than everyone else. Ummm, Clare, this isn't a good way to portray your organization of "heroes". It's really racist, for one thing (Shadowhunters are so far above other not-quite-human people, like werewolves), and for another it's just stupid. It's THEIR bar, and HE'S being the jerk, so shouldn't it be fine for them to throw him out, no matter who or what he is?
"I never thought I would enter the Silent City," he said. "Not even in death."
Alec says this when he's staring at pillars that are made from the bones of cremated Shadowhunters. Clare explains quite pointedly, more than once, that Shadowhunters' bodies are burned and their ashes used to build the city. Alec is a Shadowhunter. Wouldn't it be a waste to not use his bones/ashes? Why on earth would he think they wouldn't use his corpse that way? Are only awesome Shadowhunters used? This line is never properly explained.
The smell of ashes and smoke hung heavy on the air, familiar to her from the last time she was here - but there was something else underlying those smells, a heavier, thicker stench, like rotting fruit.
This is Clare's way of describing the smell of blood. Rotting fruit. I've got to tell you, I've smelled blood, and I've smelled rotting fruit, and they are nothing alike.
Inlaid silver stars sprinkled the stone like precious confetti.
Precious confetti? Really? How exactly do you make confetti precious? You make it out of gold chips and gemstones? In that case, it wouldn't be confetti anymore, right?
"If you want to study a Shadowhunter, I won't be much use to you," Clary cut in. Her hand ached where the sprite had bitten it, and she fought the urge to scream or burst into tears. "I don't know anything about Shadowhunting. I hardly have any training. I'm the wrong person to pick." On, she added silently.
Meet Clary, our wonderful heroine. This is what happens to her when she's bitten by a little monster that did about as much damage as a sewing needle. She wants to throw a two-year-old's tantrum. And she just has to mentally add that "on" so that you know she's not petty at all.
My father never gave me anything," Clary said. "He didn't even give me a name.
Clary, Clary, Clary. He's your father. He gave you life, does that not count?
"Alas,", said the Queen of the Seelie Court. Her expression was sharp with a sort of cruel delight.
The cruel delight in her face and voice had sharpened, and her words seemed to stab into Clary's ears like needles.
Both of those descriptions are on the same page, and both pertain to the Seelie Queen. Claire reuses THREE of the same words to describe her face, just in case we were too stupid to get it the first time.
This scene is priceless:
He closed Luke's front door behind him soundlessly and loped down the front steps two at a time. On the lawn by the footpath was a motorcycle, the engine still rumbling. It had a weirdly organic look to it: Pipes like ropy veins wound up and over the chassis, and the single headlight, now dim, resembled a gleaming eye. In a way, it looked as alive as the boy who was leaning against the cycle, looking at Jace curiously. He was wearing a brown leather jacket and his dark hair curled down to the collar of it and fell over his narrowed eyes. He was grinning, exposing pointed white teeth. Of course, Jace thought, neither the boy nor the motorcycle was really alive; they both ran on demon energies, fed by the night.
"Raphael," Jace said, by way of greeting.
"You see," Raphael said, "I have brought it, as you asked me to."
This chapter starts out with Jace making a phone call, but Claire doesn't tell you who he calls or what he says. Then, a page later, Raph shows up and just has to inform the reader that Jace had called him and asked for the cycle. Because we readers are too thick-headed to figure that out on our own. Seriously, who would say that like Raphael did unless, you were trying to not-so-sneakily call your readers idiots?
Also, she describes the cycle as having "ropy veins". Since we all know veins CANNOT BE ROPY, she must mean that it looks like it has metal ropes tied around it, right? Because if she wanted them to be vein-like, we wouldn't even be able to see them, thus making this description completely unnecessary.
And, she says it has a dim headlight that's like a gleaming eye. Dim headlight. DIM. Dim things don't gleam, Claire. If they gleamed, they wouldn't be dim, that's kind of the point.
Also, notice all the silly, unneeded similies all over those few quotes? I'll bet Clare puts at least three or four similies on every single page, and most of them don't make any sense. She described water as "running like blood" at least once. Because it would be too silly for water to run like water, right?
Okay, I'm finished. But seriously, I just opened up this book at random pages and found these problems on every page. You don't have to be an English major or a master wordsmith to realize that these things she writes are stupid. And yes, it took me far too long to realize it myself.
So, since I don't want to read any more of her quotes, let me talk about one other thing before I sign off: the romance.
First of all, Jace and Clary are a prime example of insta-love. The first book lasts for about three days, I think, and they're already proclaiming their undying love for each other. This book is no better - actually, it's worse. Jace treats Clary like garbage at all hours of the day, but when he occasionally gives her doe-eyes, she melts. Neither one of them can look at the other without reaffirming how gorgeous he/she is. This means that throughout this 453-page book, we're treated to a new description of Jace's or Clary's beauty every time they look at each other. They spend probably half the book gazing soulfully at each other, so that's a lot.
This isn't love, guys. Neither Jace nor Clary really try for an excuse of love, they just like looking at each other and kissing each other and touching each other. They don't like each other's personalities or anything, they aren't friends. That's lust, not love.
Also, in this book it's presented quite bluntly as incestuous love. Eeeeww. I have a brother and I love him, we're good friends. He drives me crazy and he's an annoying little jerk, but we're siblings, that's the way I'm supposed to think of him. And yet, Claire thinks it's perfectly fine to throw this in there, and then act like it's disgusting every time Clary tries to stop herself. She acts like Jace ogling and kissing his little sister is not only okay, but even that it should be encouraged?!
And when people have asked Clare about the incest in her books, she just says, "And?"
Nothing else. No explanation, no discussion, no consideration. Just a monosyllabic reply that means nothing.
Teens can handle a lot of stuff that people think they can't. Teens can be tough, but good grief, when I was a teen I didn't want to accidentally stumble across scenes like the ones between Jace and Clary in this book. It's disgusting. Even when I liked these books, I thought it was disgusting.
...And so ends my longest review ever. I can't talk about this anymore...