Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Review: City of Bones

City of Bones (Mortal Instruments, #1) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A fantastic start to this series! I listened to this book and, I'm sorry, but the reader was terrible. If you're reading this, and you're thinking about trying this book on audio, DO NOT DO IT! Just...don't. The reader switches for books 2 and 3, so read book 1, and then try the audio.

That being said, as bad as the reader was, the writing made me endure it because I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. I know it is classified as Teen or YA fiction, but that seemed like a very fine distinction to me. The teens are the stars of the show, yes, but the writing doesn't seem necessarily YA unless it is where we don't see a lot of cursing (it is done, just not spelled out) or sex. There is PLENTY of violence, though. Enough of it, and written well enough to rival any adult urban fantasy novel.

There are a lot of comparisons to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I don't get. Yes, there are teens fighting demons. I get that. There is a lot of banter between the characters, and that also happened in Buffy. But, that happens in a lot of other places as well. The banter, and the rest of the dialogue, is sharp and, sometimes, almost too cerebral. Whedon didn't invent that with Buffy, so to say that Clare is copying him is kind of silly. Maybe they're all copying John Hughes, even though he probably copied it from someone too. It is wonderful when it is done right, and Clare seems to have a very good handle on it.

Her characters are very individualized, you can tell who is speaking not only by cues, but also by what they say and how they say it. Her characters don't start to sound like someone else, they keep their individuality throughout the book. There was one part, towards the end, where I thought "would they really do that...." but that was the only time I was pulled out of the story.

Clary Fray didn't make me crazy, as I suspected she might when I heard the words YA fiction. She was more rational than many heroines of adult novels, to be quite honest. All of her actions, and reactions, seemed appropriate, nothing seemed forced. There were times when I wanted to shake her, of course, but even then I could completely understand why she was acting the way she did. And, when confronted with a truth, she reacted with reason and then acted reasonably. And, at the end, she used good sense to anchor herself and see truth, and to help others see it as well, even with tempting distractions. (I know that won't make sense to people who haven't read the book...)

The plot was fantastic. It never lagged. There wasn't any "filler" scenes, but everything was laid out exactly as it needed to be. Whoever edited this book did a fantastic job and I commend them. It didn't end so much as stop....and I'm assuming book 2 picks up from there. If you're looking for things tied up in a nice bow, you won't get that here. This is book 1 of a series. But, if you're looking for a fantastic fantasy/urban fantasy/ novel, pick up this series!

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Review: First Drop of Crimson

First Drop of Crimson (Night Huntress World, #1) First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Overall, I liked this book but....I thought it was a very mixed bag. There were times when I thought it was hilarious. The banter between the male characters, the banter between the hero/heroine, and some of the absurd situations (here kitty, kitty!) that occur were very funny. But, there were also times when I thought the heroine whined too much, where I thought Frost over explained (sometimes to the point of taking me OUT of the story to roll my eyes) and the plot left a lot to be desired. Plot started off great, but the longer it went on the more it became little more than a thinly veiled vehicle to keep the relationship story going. That's fine, it's a romance novel after all, right? The relationship IS the main part of the story. BUT, if that is the case, then don't bother with the rest of it. Starting off with a fascinating premise (demon hunting a runaway, enlisting help (by force) and the race to take down the demon, find the runaway and not get killed in the process) just to reduce it to...."I have to stay around long enough for him/her to fall for me" was very disappointing. This part of the book could have been SO MUCH BETTER, which makes me very bitter.

Also, I didn't like Denise. This isn't unsual, I often have a problem with heroines. There were times when I agreed with her, when I laughed at her antics, when I hoped she didn't die, even when I felt sorry for her, but I never got to the point where I liked her.

The boys are well Frost shines. There were times when I thought Spade was a little too Bones-esque in word and they didn't have their own voice, but it was always entertaining. Ian was hilarious, as usual. Mencheres was intriguing, and I'm glad to know he'll be the subject of the next book.

And, yes, I'm going to read the next book. That's the thing: even though this one was flawed (to me) in a lot of ways, Frost still tells an interesting story with interesting people. And that, in the end, is what keeps readers like me coming back.

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Review: Changes

Changes (The Dresden Files, #12) Changes by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Changes is right. This series went through a host of changes, the least of which was a missing child. Not all of the changes are bad, there were a few that I actually liked. Not all of the changes are bad right now, but they certainly have that potential. This book could have been titled "Revelations" just as easily as Changes.

As always, the book was well plotted and seemed to flow easily from mishap to catastrophe. The dialogue was razor sharp, which is one of Butcher's really strong points, and the characters was crisp. With a cast of characters this large, it is easy for them to all start sounding the same, but this never happens in these books.

I would give this book (and audio) 4.5 stars if I could. Small Favor is my favorite, and Changes comes in just under that high water mark.

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