Saturday, January 14, 2012

Clockwork Prince (Infernal Devices #2)-Cassandra Clare

Oh Ms. Clare…a sequel to your YA Victorian Steampunk Shawdowhunter series, known as The Infernal Devices?! My oh my! I think I have a case of the vapers!

“In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends. With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them. Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do? As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.”

 I cannot tell you how awesome it was to get this book from my mother-in-law for Christmas. I actually stopped reading a book to read this one. And I am so glad I did. This is such an amazing book. Better than the first, which was totally amazing as well! We delve deeper into the mystery of who is Tessa Grey and there is also some baw-chicka-wah-wah action in this book that had me blushing. Cheeky Ms. Clare!

I have found in the YA supernatural/paranormal genre, there always seems to be some kind of love triangle. This annoys me most of the time. But Cassandra Clare is so good, that I totally forget about the love triangle between Tessa, Jem and Will. We see Tessa’s heart being pulled in both directions, but she’s a smart enough girl that she has bigger problems. I find all of Clare’s female characters are a good combination of tough and vulnerable, and none of those characters are the same. I enjoy the Infernal Devices series a little bit more I think because I fell that Tessa is strong and determined, while Clary from Mortal Instruments is moody teenage girl.  Both characters are strong, but I feel Tessa is a better rounded and written character in that there is a mystery around who she is, something that even she doesn’t know.

In this book, there is more action and intrigue in the hunt for the elusive Axel Mortmain, the Magister. We still don’t know what he wants with Tessa (which is honestly driving me crazy trying to figure out!) but the hunt for him is urgent in that the Institute is what’s at stake. The little surprises that are revealed throughout the book only lead to more mysteries and enigmas that can only be unlocked in the next book, Clockwork Princess. This book read more like a detective story than a YA supernatural/paranormal one. Which, is exciting because I hate when I get all moody like a teenager, being that I am almost thirty years old.

Thank you Cassandra Clare for making me want more and totally having a love/hate relationship with the waiting for Clockwork Princess to be written and put in my greedy little hands. Because I need to know what happens!!

Breathers-S.G. Browne

A zombie point of view story where the zombies are getting “better”? I am sensing a trend…

“Meet Andy Warner, a recently deceased everyman and newly minted zombie. Resented by his parents, abandoned by his friends, and reviled by a society that no longer considers him human, Andy is having a bit of trouble adjusting to his new existence. But all that changes when he goes to an Undead Anonymous meeting and finds kindred souls in Rita, an impossibly sexy recent suicide with a taste for the formaldehyde in cosmetic products, and Jerry, a twenty-one-year-old car-crash victim with an exposed brain and a penchant for Renaissance pornography. When the group meets a rogue zombie who teaches them the joys of human flesh, things start to get messy, and Andy embarks on a journey of self-discovery that will take him from his casket to the SPCA to a media-driven class-action lawsuit on behalf of the rights of zombies everywhere. Darkly funny, surprisingly touching, and gory enough to satisfy even the most discerning reader, Breathers is a romantic zombie comedy (rom-zom-com, for short) that will leave you laughing, squirming, and clamoring for more.”

Let me preface this review with this little back story.

Me reading this book is a case of cover love. I just thought it was so clever and cute. And I have an affinity for covers. A stellar cover is usually a determining factor in me picking out books to read (i.e. Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instrument series). So I put this book in my GoodReads list of “to-read” and my dear friend Jenn (who is my Zombie Apocalypse Sister in Arms) told me in a few words, I have this book, you can borrow it, but don’t get your hopes up. I should have taken this as a warning.

The idea of Breathers is good. Clever even. And the writing is pretty decent. There’s a bit more humor in this zombie POV than in Warm Bodies (see my review!). And that’s where my praise for this book ends. Yeah. Sorry Mr. Browne. I had a hard time getting into this book. It was just sort of blasé. Oh! Good word! Anyway…I’m going to break down this review by what this book promised to deliver on and fell short on doing.

1.       “Darkly Funny.” Now, don’t get me wrong, folks who are fans of this book, there were some funny parts in this book that made me chuckle. But most of the time I was too busy trying to decided if I should feel bad for Andy for the stuff him and zombie-kind put up with, or smack him like a bitch because he’s acting like one. There is only some much “but you would only understand if you were a zombie” to describe how it is to be a zombie. Honestly, see it as a cop-out for trying to weave emotions into a zombie and making us, the readers, understand.

2.       “Surprisingly touching.” Really? Are you sure? Are those zombie support meetings that Andy goes to suppose to make us feel a deeper connection to zombie-kind because honestly, I was left not feeling surprisingly touched, but more bored. I suppose having Andy and the others start to magically “heal” and the emotions of dealing and then to have Fate piss all over it could be seen as touching, but I just couldn’t get behind Andy as a hero. I get that his life sucks, but dude, really? Grow a pair of balls and be a George Romero zombie for Christ sake!

3.        “Gory enough to satisfy even the most discerning reader.” Liar, liar, pants on fire! Yeah, the zombies eat people. But where’s the fury? The hunger? The natural urge for survival? Oh wait. It’s totally not there. There is only one scene where Andy finally acts like a zombie and chomps on his psychiatrists face. The rest of the time, Andy and company are feasting on “Breathers” like they are at some family get together. Just because zombies are eating regular humans, doesn’t mean that it is gory. Gross? Yes. Gory? Well, let’s just say that I think whoever wrote the little summary on the back of the book didn’t look up the word gory.

Can you tell I was totally unimpressed with this book? And yes, I realize I sound like a colossal asshole but I speak merely on my own brand of personal truth. I have no problem with the idea of a zombie POV novel, I don’t. And I’m sure S.G. Browne is a lovely man. He can totally write. It’s good. I just think this one fell kind of short of the finishing line.

Sorry Mr. Browne…

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Percy Jackson & the Titan's Curse-Rick Riordan

What could be the Titan’s Curse? The question is…do you really want to know?

“When Percy receives a distress call from his friend, Grover, he prepares for battle. He knows hel’ll need his powerful demigod allies, Annabeth and Thalia, at his side; his trusty bronze sword, Riptide, and…a ride from his mom. When they arrive, the demigods find more than just mythological monsters awaiting them. Grover has made an important discovery: two new half-bloods, Bianca and Nico, whose parentage is unknown. But before Percy and his friends can escort Bianca and Nico back to Camp Half-Blood, the are intercepted by the manticore, and an impulsive move by Percy causes Annabeth to go missing. And she’s not the only one: the goddess Artemis is believed to have been kidnapped. But who is powerful enough to kidnap a goddess? It’s up to Percy and his friends to find out. They must rescue Artemis before\ the winter solstice, when her influence on the Olympian Council could swing an important vote on the war with the Titans. But first, Percy will have to solve the mystery of a rare monster that Artemis was hunting when she disappeared-a monster rumored to be so powerful it could destroy Olympus forever.”

***Watch out! Spoilers ahead!***

Another bravo for Rick Riordan for continuing to develop his characters in the Percy Jackson series. I enjoyed the introduction of Bianca and Nico because it adds another dimension to the prophecy that one of the Big Three’s children will determine the fate of the Olympians. First there’s Thalia, Zeus’ daughter, Percy, son of Posiden, and Nico and Bianca are the children of Hades. Plot thickens!! This book to me was more emotionally charged (I know…a cliché term) with Percy’s guilt for Annabeth disappearing, the hunt for Artemis with a dangerous prophecy attached, and trying to figure out what the heck is the Titan’s Curse.
Another character I found really interesting was Zoe Nightshade. She is smart, determined, and for a “fourteen year old girl” very mysterious. I felt she was a mirror for Percy in his actions. She made him reflect on his actions and who he is as a person. I was so bummed when she had to die at the end. But she got her reward from Artemis by being placed among the stars.

So the Titan’s Curse? What is it? Well, I’m going to tell you: it’s Atlas having to hold the weight of the world on his shoulders. I loved the idea that Atlas has gotten free and forcing Annabeth and then Artemis to hold the world on their shoulders, allowing him the freedom to serve his lord Kronos. Oh! And Zoe is Atlas’s daughter! Such a great plot twist.

My only complaint with this book is Bianca’s death. I felt it was undeserved. I get that in the prophecy that one will be lost in the desert, and I get that her death was heroic in that she was saving Percy and the others, but come on…she had to die in a robot foot? And it’s not very clear in the book what happens to hear. We get to the end of the book and suddenly Nico is asking what happened to Bianca. But, I did enjoy that by Nico freaking out on Percy that we learn that Nico and Bianca are Hades’s children.

I cannot wait to get my hands on Battle of the Labyrinth, to get one step closer to finding out what happens with the battle between the Olympians and Kronos.