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City of Fallen Angels - Cassandra Clare
Being an avid reader and am always on the lookout for new series' and I came across this series after checking out future movie previews, I came across a film in which will be released later this year (2013); City of Bones. The preview really caught my eye, and when I found out that it is a set of books I ordered the first one straight away. After getting three quarters of the way through the first book, I realised that I had to get the next couple of books immediately and kicked myself for not doing this sooner as I really wanted to continue the story without a break.
My review of the first three books in the series, 'City of Bones' and 'City of Ashes' and 'City of Glass' (Lovely original names!) can be found on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
This review covers the fourth book in the series, 'City of Fallen Angels'.
City of Fallen Angels is part of 'The Mortal Instruments' book series, and there are, to date, five books in the series with the sixth and final book coming out in 2014. The books in this set include;
City of Bones
City of Ashes
City of Glass
City of Fallen Angels
City of Lost Souls
City of Heavenly Fire (unreleased)
This series was originally meant as a trilogy, though the author decided to continue the set due to popular demand. I have now completed the series up to date and will write a further review of the fifth book at some point soon and so now I am able to see whether the author was wise to continue past the original planned trilogy, or whether she should have quit whilst she was ahead.
With all this said, I will now take you on to my review of the fourth book of the series...
"It's fascinating. You know all these words, and they're all English, but when you string them together into sentences, they just don't make any sense."
A/N: Please bear in mind when reading this review that some spoilers from the first books may appear, though I will attempt to keep them to a minimum.
The Mortal War is over and Valentine is dead and buried. Clary, knowing now that the world is not how she once viewed it, returns to New York and begins training to be the Shadowhunter she should have been years before if it was not for her own mother 'protecting' her from the things that lurk in the shadows. Life is good for Clary, Shadowhunters and Downworlders in the main are working together, and it is made even better now that she can finally call Jace her boyfriend, though she should know by now that nothing comes without a price.
Someone is murdering Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentines circle, threatening the peace between Shadowhunters and Downworlders and a second bloody war is on the horizon if something is not done about it. Clary turns to her best friend Simon for help, though he has his own problems. His mother has found out he is a vampire and made him homeless, and to top it all off, the cursed rune that once protected him is now threatening his very existence. Clary tries to get Jace to help, though she finds him slowly pulling away from her inexplicably, and so she is forced to delve into the heart of the mystery which may just reveal her worst nightmare, and in turn she sets in motion a change of events which could lead her to loosing everything she loves...even Jace...!
As with all these books so far, the synopsis on the cover of the book does not really give a lot away and does not invite a prospective reader into its pages, though I have bulked it out slightly to give a better idea. Unfortunately, unlike the other books in this series, the actual blurb does the book better justice than the text actually gives.
This book continues to focus upon a group of Shadowhunters, with this group continuing to be the main heart of the story, though like before, we meet a lot of 'Downworlders', otherwise known as vampires, werewolves and fay. Although not the bulk of the story, this book does introduce these sects much more than previous books due to the alliance created after the Mortal War of the last book. I would not say it is over the top and it is certainly not the main focus or genre, though if you have had enough of these supernatural creatures in other books than you may feel that this is not for you as it does bring it up to a whole new level.
City of Fallen Angels takes place around the same areas as before with very few new areas introduced so I was able to settle back into the story without a problem. As Stephanie Meyer writes of this set of books; [it is] 'a story world I love to live in' and I do agree with her sentiment. It is a wonderful world that this author has created and this has not changed, though unfortunately other things have changed in this fourth book, and most for the worst.
As already mentioned above, this was originally meant to be a trilogy, though on second thought, the author extended it to a further three books. Although I was excited about there being more books in the set, on hindsight I should have perhaps left it after the third book when it rested on a high. Almost immediately, I felt that the flow had changed and slowed right down in comparison to the first three stories. Although a slow start is usual in many books, after the energetic feel of the other books, I had expected this to be the same, though I just felt as though the author was at a loss as to where she was going many a time, and instead stumbled through parts of story which seemed to be going nowhere. At these down points in the story (and there were many) I found myself skimming through the text rather than taking in every single word. I felt that if I had skipped many chapters in a row I would not have missed anything, and perhaps if I had have done this then maybe I would have enjoyed the story more! Once the more energetic parts came in, the story did pick up and there were some exciting parts which drew me back in to the action, though compared to the original trilogy, this book and its flow and style just felt as though the author had given up.
The story itself was also not as strong as the previous books. Apart from the misdirection that I felt from reading it, I felt that the story was almost forced. The third book gave a nice, well rounded ending, and this book just seemed to look around throughout to try to find something to latch on to which may make a good story. I will admit that there were many times that caught my attention, and I found myself barely able to put the book down, though these moments did not come until near the end, were few and far between, and were still quite weak compared to the other books. I found many instances of the story cringe worthy and extremely poor.
The characters and the world itself continued to have a heightened excitement and power in the main, though certain characters did seem to loose their already established characterizations and strong personalities. Some almost flipped completely over to reveal a completely different person, and this happens with characters who were supposedly unchanged in the story (this will be more understandable when you read the book if you so choose to go on!).
Once again we have a whole host of errors throughout the book, grammatical and otherwise. Although I had got used to this to a degree in the other books, it still became frustrating and very annoying many a time. I felt like rewriting many parts just so it would make more sense!
The story probably best falls into the urban fantasy genre, though I feel that it can not comfortably sit in one particular genre or another as it is so jam packed with so many different aspect. There is a whole heightened amount of humour in this second installment, as well as aspects of science fiction, love story, action adventure and many more, though many of these are subtle - such as the love story. There is also a great amount of humour in this book which is perhaps one of the things which kept me entertained through the duller moments of the story.
Keeping with the idea of the love story in this book, I feel that I should mention a little about it as in many books, the love story becomes the heart and soul of the book and occasionally becomes too overwhelming and so the story becomes lost. Stephanie Meyer, author of the 'Twilight' series, also speaks highly of these books, so it may make a person wonder just how strong this part of the story is. Through the first three books, the love story/s were kept further in the background than the forground, and entered the story as a simple sub-plot. Although the love story/s is not the main feature of the story, it does become more heightened in this particular book, and on occasion some parts do become rather annoying as though the author has forgotten exactly what she was meant to be writing about. Luckily this does not happen too often.
The story is written from a narrative view, though unlike many books, this switches from character to character. The main part of the story follows Clary, though we see various points in which we follow other main characters. This works out brilliantly and almost runs as though it were a movie playing in front of you. There is no confusion whatsoever, and the pace and flow of each and between each is simply perfect. The switching in characters is not as paramount in this book as was in the previous ones.
There is a medium amount of violence in this book, and although it is written really well, it is wise to remember that this book does cover a growing war and so there is quite a number of emotional scenes which cover loss, death and betrayal, mainly bought through from the last book. I would not say that any part is overly emotional as such, and I did not feel close to tears in any way, though these such subjects may concern some readers.
Like with the first three books, this book does have a strong element of predictability, and although it is a little disjointed, the predictability is strong in the forground with many aspects. There are some surprises, though this is unfortunately kept to a minimum in this book.
So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines?
The first trilogy was fantastic. It was not without its flaws, though the story brought something almost unique in to the story whilst skirting around the well known genres. It was this uniqueness which made the first three books different and worth while. This first book of the second part of the set also holds some small element of uniqueness though unfortunately, this time it is not really for the greater good.
In comparison to other books along these lines the same can be said. There is a slight uniqueness in the story, though I have read things very similar in other works and so I was not astounded at all.
So the answer to the question really has to be...nothing. The only real difference (when comparing mainly to the past trilogy) is that this has a lost story which does not excite at all.
One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story.
So how does the ending of this book compare?
The ending was perhaps the best part of the book. Although the story in the main was poor and very disjointed, the ending brought the story as it was to a close whilst leaving us with one big turnaround which even I did not predict (the only thing I did not predict!). I am not sure whether I particularly liked the twist story line, though it did make for good reading. If I could rate just the ending of this story, then this book would be rated a lot higher. Perhaps it is a good sign for the story getting better in the next two books? We will have to see!
The previous books had chapter-length epilogues though this one did not hold this, which worked much better, incorporating the ending into the main part of the story rather than as a separate. It does have an excerpt in reply to questions previous readers have asked the author about a certain part in a previous book. This was interesting to read and a nice addition though not really part of the story itself.
The story was over 435 pages long in paperback form, which is significantly shorter than the last book. Personally I think that this was still too long as there were many points which could easily have been condensed or even deleted from the final book edition.
CASSANDRA CLARE CONTROVERSY
I have mentioned this in much more detail in my review on the first book, though felt it significant to mention this once more especially as many people are starting to hear more about it through the movie coming out later this year. I have also read and heard a lot of negative feelings and thoughts due to this which may make people avoid the books, which is something in which I am glad I did not do. I heard about this only after I had begun reading the first book, and luckily by that time, I had already fallen in love with the story.
The controversy I am talking about goes back to the time when Cassandra Claire (as she was then known) was writing various fanfictions (stories based upon actual books such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings). There was many a time in which her writings came under severe scrutiny about plagerism, as well as accusations of racism and sexism.
After looking into this further, it seems that once Clare changed the spelling of her surname, took her old fanfiction stories down from the internet and began her actual novels, the plagiarism and such like accusations diminished.
It is true that the first book was not unique in the slightest, though I have not really seen severe signs of plagiarism within these stories, even with the similarities I have mentioned. Hopefully that means this author has left her past behind her, and I would certainly not recommend staying away from this series due to it.
"What's the point in wasting a perfectly good brick wall when you have someone to throw against it, that's what I always say."
I have to love the above quote from the book itself as it almost describes how I felt when reading this fourth part of the set of books; throwing it (or the author!) against a brick wall seemed like a good idea at many points when reading!
I was apprehensive about reading on to the fourth book, knowing that this series was originally meant as a trilogy alone, though as I loved the world this author created, I almost felt compelled into reading on. To say I am disappointed is an understatement, though not completely surprising.
There are elements of this book that I really did enjoy, though in the main it felt like a let-down. I think that the author should have perhaps quit whilst she was ahead as this book really does not do the rest of the series justice.
Will I read the next book?
As I have already bought the fifth book of the set, then yes I will read on, and although I hold hope that the ending of this book is a mark that the next book will resume the excitement of its predecessors, I have almost lost all hope.
It is not a book to read before reading the first one as it is a continuation.
The RRP on this book is £7.99, though I was able to purchase this in'The Works' shop for £3.00. Amazon also has this at £2.41 plus postage and packaging. Thankfully I did not spend the RRP on this otherwise I would have been very annoyed!
Clary is back in New York and life is good: she's training to be a Shadowhunter and is finally able to call Jace her boyfriend. But nothing comes without a price. When Jace inexplicably begins to pull away from her, Clary is forced to acknowledge that she herself has set in motion a chain of events that could lead to the losss of everything she loves. Even Jace.
Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge.
The stakes are higher than ever...
City of Fallen Angels is the fourth instalment in the phenomenal Mortal Instruments series, written by Cassandra Clare. I have been a huge fan of this series ever since I read City of Bones and I could not wait to get started with City of Fallen Angels. Cassandra Clare's writing is absolutely brilliant. Her books draw you in instantaneously and keep you turning page after page after page - its impossible to put her books down! Although The Mortal Instruments series is written from the third person narrator, you still feel really connected to all the characters and know exactly how they're all feeling. The plot that Cassandra Clare has woven is so detailed and intricate that the plot often shifts from one person's story to another. This means that you can see what each and every character has been up even when they're not together. With scenes jumping from place to place, you would think that the book was always jumping around and moving back and forth; however, Cassandra Clare writes in such a seamless manner that you don't notice this.
It has been a very long time since I read the first three books in this series and I did have to refresh my memory several times whilst reading City of Fallen Angels, which is why I'd say that this isn't really a stand-alone book. In order to fully enjoy and understand all the references and character relationships, I think it is essential for the reader to have read the previous three books. All the characters in City of Fallen Angels have developed and changed a lot since their debut in City of Bones and in order to understand the characters in City of Fallen Angels, you need know why they are who they are and what events shaped their personalities. The reason the first three books are so important to this series is because the complicated plot twists that were unravelled in them need to be understood by the reader. I think that the first three novels work very well together as a collection and City of Fallen Angels is sort of like a new part to the story that kicks off after the events in the first three books have been resolves. (This would be because the series was supposed to end with City of Glass). At least, this is what it appears to be for the majority of the novel. Towards the end, there is (of course) a dramatic plot twist, bringing back things from the past in ways you would never expect and you realise that the action from the first three novels isn't over.
City of Fallen Angels is certainly a fast paced novel that keeps you hooked from beginning to end. Many characters are sort of transitioning from their old selves to their new selves and there are also a couple of new characters introduced. The plot line is constantly moving, and definitely keeps you on your toes. The action is just non stop - just when you think it's all over, something else happens to kickstart it all over again and this is why I love Cassandra Clare's books so much. There is never a dull moment in this series, there are no empty or undeveloped characters, they are all incredibly complex and their life stories weave in and out of each others in such a fascinating manner.
Clary and Jace have always had a complicated relationship and I'm sorry to say that things do not go smoothly for them in City of Fallen Angels. This pair are definitely the central characters to the novel; however, this novel is not solely orientated around their romance. There is also a lot of family drama, friend drama and demon drama which brings so much action to the novel. I would say that this book is a lot more tight knit than the previous three. I think the focus is narrowed down to a few, very important characters who are all deeply involved in the plot line, whereas in previous books there has often been different people doing different things but in City of Fallen Angels, all the characters have some business with all the other characters.
This is a must read for anyone who loves anything to do with the paranormal/fantasy genre will love this young adult book and I cannot recommend it enough. It is full of romance, suspense, drama and action and I guarantee that you will not be able to put this book down! In addition, the film of City of Bones is set to be released in 2013, so get ahead of the game and read the series now.
City of Fallen Angels (CoFA) is the fourth book in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. It was published on 7th April by Walker Books and it is 432 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Set two months after the events of City of Glass, Clary and Jace have begun to attempt to live their lives again. Finally taking her rightful place in the world of Shadowhunters, Clary begins training with Jace but it isn't exactly going to plan. The young couple can barely keep their hands off of each other long enough to do any training at all.
At the same time, someone is committing murders all over New York City and the motive could be devastating for everyone. Valentine isn't the only one who is able to come up with the deadliest plans and someone else, someone new, is out to cause a lot of chaos. If everything goes to plan, Clary and Jace's relationship could be the strongest it ever has been or completely destroyed.
What I thought
The Mortal Instruments is one of my all time favourite YA series and I couldn't wait for the fourth instalment. Unfortunately, I am going to go against the general view on this book here and say I didn't love it. I liked it, it was ok, but not nearly as good as the first three books in the series. If you haven't read all three previous books in this series so far, be prepared for some spoilers.
What I did love about this book though was the characterisation. Although Clary and Jace are the true main characters, I feel as though many others could easily be in the same position. That cannot be said for the other books in the series though and it seems like Cassandra Clare tried to shake things up a little bit this time around.
Clary is quite absent for the majority of the book and only really made an impact towards the end. During the time early on that she was around though, I did feel extremely sorry for her due to everything she had going on. Her life isn't easy and it doesn't seem to be getting any better for her, apart from the fact she finally has the boy she loves and has been fighting for all of this time. I don't really have complaints about Clary but mainly because she wasn't around enough for me to have any real thoughts about her. Previously, Clary has been a very strong female character but I see this fading slowly over time now. Yes, she can still kick ass but in the way she acts/ reacts is getting weaker all of the time. I really wanted Clary to stand up for herself more and to be a bit more pushy when it came to Jace.
I think so many people are going to get annoyed with me saying this but...I am so over Jace now. After how City of Glass ended, I was really hoping for Jace to have changed and also for his relationship with Clary to have changed. Although this is true in some respects, it isn't in the way that matters. Jace's attitude really annoyed me a lot and although I understood the way he was acting, I didn't think it was entirely necessary to take the story this way. Cant Clary and Jace have some form of happiness for a little while at least? On the plus side though, Jace does change a little bit when around a certain someone and I really liked this aspect of the story but it just didn't last long enough.
Simon is the character who I loved the most though this time. He has slowly been coming into his own over the course of the series but now, he isn't just following in Clary's footsteps anymore. Now, he has his own life and his own story happening. So many interesting and exciting things happen to Simon in CoFA and I think I would have been extremely happy if this book had been all about him. I certainly would have ended up liking it more. Simon is finally coming to terms more with being a vampire but probably because that is the least of his worries now. Simon is complex but interesting, easy to relate to and funny at the same time. How could anyone not like him?!
The plot, although it had new dimensions in a sense, was very samey. There was a lot of angst between characters, old problems written in a different way and nothing really getting resolved. For me, the plot was neither nothing new or exciting and I was extremely let down by this. After this book had received so much pre-release hype, it didn't live up to it. While I was reading CoFA, I was waiting for something completely amazing and heart stopping to happen but it just never came. Many other smaller things do happen throughout but nothing is ever as big or as extravagant as it could and should have been. Up until the very end of the book, the pacing is slow and drawn out and because of this, I wasn't completely hooked at any point like I had been with the other books.
Overall, I wish this series had been left at the original three books that it was supposed to be. The ending of book three was perfect for me and I couldn't imagine where the story was going to or could go. Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate this book at all but I just didn't love it either. I'll still be reading the last two books of the series though.