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18 December 2008 @ 07:48 pm
come, to the sea  
City of Bones, Cassandra Clare

It's impossible to separate CC's original work from her fannish work. That is what I discovered when I read this. To be fair to me, she could have made more of an effort to write CoB less like a fanfic. On the other hand, I never entered into either the huge hate or the huge love she engendered. I found her fanfic entertaining but too long. I think it reached a stage where you either bashed or worshipped her, and maybe she never got the benefit of any genuine concrit from a disinterested party. That's the feeling I get from the book, anyway. Then again, a lot of first-time authors over-describe and burden their narrative with superfluous metaphors - she's hardly a lone cowboy there.

A lot of people ranted about the fact that Clary is one letter removed from Clare, and ergo Clary is CC. I thought Clary was a horrible name - and Clarissa's not much better; I kept having images of Clarissa Explains It All, complete with eighties jeans - but what stunned me was the idea that, supposedly, Clary's dad's last name was Clark. So technically, her name was Clary Clark. WTF. (Of course, the convolutions of the actual plot made that meaningless - but if you're going to come up with a pseudonym for your child's dad that also uses the same initials as your apparently-dead son, couldn't you pick another name beginning with C? Carter? Connell? Cieslak? ANYTHING?)

I always mark passages in these 'reviews' that either annoy or delight me. (They usually annoy me.) There are thirty-one marks in this book, and you've probably guessed that they didn't delight me. There's no way I'm going to bother reproducing the leaden writing that caused me to highlight them. I'll just pick the juiciest.

Firstly, she overused two words: buttery and unhitched. Butter, I find, is not the nicest thing on its own; a drink of butter would not exactly be delicious. Metal should only be buttery if it’s melting. Perhaps she thought buttery was both the same as 'creamy' and 'golden,' which, um. It isn't. As for unhitched, well. That's something you do with horses. It's such a strong description. Words like pulled or moved are like said - nearly invisible. But every time she used 'unhitched' I took a mental pause to wonder when the character tied their belt around a pole. BAD, in other words.

When Jace opened the greenhouse door, the scent hit Clary, soft as the padded blow of a cat's paw: the rich dark smell of earth and the stronger, soapy scent of night-blooming flowers - moonflowers, white angel's trumpet, four o'clocks - and some she didn't recognise, like a plant bearing a star-shaped yellow blossom whose petals were medallioned with golden pollen. Through the glass walls of the enclosure she could see the lights of Manhattan burning like cold jewels.

This is one tiny paragraph. It contained two similes and one mention of 'medallioned' pollen. The similes are actually pretty good, as similes go - but no matter how much I like Oreos, if I eat an entire packet in five minutes I get somewhat disenchanted with them. That's the same problem with CC's similes. Her editor should ration them to one per chapter, and then they would pack the punch they (individually) deserve. Also? Most of them describe people and scenes that are utterly irrelevant and never seen again. I call padding.

And soap smells like flowers, not the other way round. Unwarrentedly nitpicky? Perhaps, but someone’s gotta be the editor here: her editor clearly contracted selective Alzheimer’s when it came to actually, you know, editing.

As a child of that point, what was up with the constant references to art? It was unbelievably hoity-toity - you mean you don't know who Brugels is, fifteen-year old person who is my target audience? Ho ho, aren't you a stupid little child. Well, fuck that. I did art in school and have read a number of art books and enjoy art, and I still didn't get most of the references. THAT MEANS I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DESCRIBING LOOKS LIKE - AND NOR DOES ANYONE ELSE. It's one thing to liken something to Picasso or Monet. It's another to make your book into a pop quiz of history's less celebrated artists.

I didn't hate everything, though. Magnus was an extremely cool character, with his cat's birthday party. The dialogue was good in places, but mostly it was too much of a set up - like the time Jace says, 'If there was such a thing as terminal literalism, you'd have died in childhood'. Now that's pretty clever, but it doesn't fit in with a) the conversation b) Clary's character or c) the sort of thing Jace would normally say. Therefore, it doesn't work. You could make it work, but a lot more effort would be required - and that's really what this book is lacking.

I knew an awful lot of spoilers about the book before I started, so I was able to analyse it like it was a second reading. A couple things struck me:

If Valentine was so terrible that everyone was too afraid to fight him (Luke, Hodge etc), then why was there a rising at all? Why didn't everyone just cave as soon as he clicked his - perfectly manicured, I must assume - fingers?

Clary should at least have felt disgusted that Jace turned out to be her big brother, if only for a second. SHE DID NOT.

Obviously I have insider knowledge, but - the photograph of the Circle, the fact that it was called the Circle, the Forsaken, the 'half-bloods' and Downworlders, the hatred of mundies, the shards of broken mirror that showed another place - they were all so obviously Potterverse. Or let's be clear: they're parts of the Potterverse that fans latched on to as cool and constantly brought up in fic. The whole Muggles and purebloods thing was never such an issue with JK as it was for people who shipped Draco.

Except for Hodge, of course, who was Giles. He even LOOKED like Giles. Did she not think people would guess? And when everyone but your protagonist is a bad guy, that kind of takes the suspense out of it. Where Buffy had a poor influence on the book was in the action scenes, which read like a script: hoist this monster here, actor #1 dies on the marked white spot, etc. The part where Simon breaks the skylight would have worked excellently on film! In a book, not so much. It's too hard to visualise. The point is: telly is dumb, books are smart. Aim higher.

It also read like we already knew about the Downworlders and the Lightwoods' hatred of mundies and other things like that. Again, a fault of fanfic, I imagine. I don't have to explain why Harry hates Draco or why Brendon has troubles with his family, but I DO have to explain why Xenair and Woodlee have such a long and tangled history of hate, because YOU don't know who the fuck they are. (I just made them up, by the way.)

These kids were not fifteen/sixteen. No way in hell. Also, from the way they were written, I don't think CC was ever fifteen, either. Nightclubs on a Sunday, where there's enough room to actually touch the floor while dancing? HOKAY NO. Or maybe this is just in New York. I must go there sometime. I'd like to dance without bruising.

This review is random, but so is the book.

Previously, on Book Glomp 2008:
#1Middlemarch | #2Invisible Monsters | #3A Thousand Splendid Suns | #4Love in the Time of Cholera | #5Oscar and Lucinda | #6Kim | #7Breakfast at Tiffany's | #8Atonement | #9To the Lighthouse | #10On the Road | #11Brideshead Revisited | #12Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance | #13Bonjour Tristesse | #14A Passage to India | #15Three Men in a Boat | #16Vile Bodies | #17Prozac Nation | #18The Heart of the Matter | #19Jinx; #20Airhead | #21Doomsday Book | #22The Gum Thief | #23Choke | #24The Stone Gods | #25Beauty | #26Before They Are Hanged | #27The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation | #28Franny and Zooey | #29Girl in a Blue Dress | #30A Doll's House | #31Nation
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Current Music: winter song // eisley
Ria: enchanted-gisellekessie on December 18th, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC)
It's impossible to separate CC's original work from her fannish work.

This is what I figured out after I read my proof copy of CoB. If you've read her fanfic, it's very hard to ignore it while reading her books.


It also read like we already knew about the Downworlders and the Lightwoods' hatred of mundies and other things like that. Again, a fault of fanfic, I imagine.

I actually have to address things like this in my book because I was figuring it out in the first draft. But that's what second drafts are for. :D
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: Marie Antoinettescoradh on December 18th, 2008 08:09 pm (UTC)
I initially thought I would do my best to ignore it, but it was impossible! Then again ... if she'd written a crime novel, I probably wouldn't have heard so many echoes.

I really hope this was the first draft of CoB. The idea that after multiple edits you're left with that is pretty disheartening.
queen of pain: harry potter: slytherin: sarcasmn_isfor_neville on December 18th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
I did art in school and have read a number of art books and enjoy art, and I still didn't get most of the references. THAT MEANS I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DESCRIBING LOOKS LIKE - AND NOR DOES ANYONE ELSE.

Haha. I recently read the only published book by a Harry Potter fanfic writer. There were so many references to foods and wines I've never heard of, that it really just became a pain to read. It was like 200 pages and and it didn't even get interesting until the last 40 pages. I'll admit that I never went to culinary school, but I'm sure most of the people who have picked up the book haven't either.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: deerscoradh on December 18th, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC)
There are plenty of fanficcers with published books, though? I can name four off the top of my head (although I probably shouldn't - they all choose to distance themselves once it happens).

I think writers should stick to bread. Everyone knows what bread is.

Edited at 2008-12-18 08:16 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - kessie on December 18th, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - n_isfor_neville on December 18th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on December 18th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - n_isfor_neville on December 19th, 2008 05:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
fat girl rules the worldfatgirlrules on December 18th, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you did a write up on this one. I only read a bit of Clare's work when she was in the fandom, but I tend to be turned off by writers that try to come off as being smart, so I mostly left her alone.

I was slightly curious about her book, though. Mainly because of all the wank about her plagiarizing large portions of her fanfic, and then filling the rest with Buffy quotes. I wondered what publisher would touch a writer who had already gotten caught ripping off other people's ideas...but not enough to read it.

Hey, speaking of original fiction, when are we going to get to read more of yours? *Hint hint*
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: blue bustierscoradh on December 18th, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
I came to a point where I was reading her fic to get to the end, where she listed all the quotes ... and realised that's all I was reading it for. Still, she turned me on to Terry Pratchett, Blackadder and Red Dwarf, so I can thank her for that, I suppose.

Jace was undoubtedly fandom!Draco. The Alec/Jace part was a nod to her H/D stuff, which was always subliminal in the Draco Trilogy (I think). I don't know who Clary was - possibly she was so many people she ended up as nothing. Seriously, a character who just watched stuff happen. Fun. I couldn't tell you if she stole quotes, because I've only seen 2 1/2 seasons of Buffy - that was probably just in her fanfic?

LOL! When I write some! :D (You could read my bandom stories as original fic...?)
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every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: pre-raphelitescoradh on December 18th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
I had a lot of boring lectures! Don't judge me! :P
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(no subject) - scoradh on December 18th, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - scoradh on December 21st, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
trichinopoly ash: gale: cockaldehyde on December 18th, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC)
i wrote some pretty extensive reviews of the first 2 books of her trilogy earlier this year, and i had similar things to say.

overall, i liked the stories but i felt like they had the potential to be much better. i also felt like the plot was a hodgepodge of already popular series/movies like star wars, buffy, harry potter, etc which diminished my enjoyment of it b/c it kept feeling like FANFIC instead of proper literature. i mean, i kept reading about jace and picturing fandom!sirius and draco, or picturing luke skywalker at certain times [this happened more when i read book 2].

i do think though that if i wasn't part of the hp fandom and hadn't read her draco trilogy, i might've enjoyed these books a lot more. i mean, i'm still considering re-reading them b/c i liked certain aspects of the story a lot, and i'm actually looking fwd to the last book. but i can't be fully satisfied with them.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: fishscoradh on December 21st, 2008 09:17 pm (UTC)
See, I differ from you in the sense of whether or not I'd have appreciated them more if I didn't know about her fanfic. Everything I wrote above, I'm almost certain I would have thought just as much as if she were a stranger to me. You only have to read the rest of the 'reviews' to see that I hate easily and without mercy.

The funny thing is, I didn't even hate this book. It struck me as a little pathetic, in that CC didn't have enough faith in her own storytelling skills to move away from the all-too-easily recognisable SF tropes.

Yeah, I won't be reading any more. :D There's plenty of better books out there to keep me occupied.
land of godless sodomites: chiwa2pixxers on December 18th, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC)
Ahaha, she sucks. Harder than LKH, which is truly an accomplishment in suckitude. :D :D
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: bands Katy Perry yellow bathing suitscoradh on December 21st, 2008 09:18 pm (UTC)
I really should finish the first book in that Anita Blake series ... or even get past ten pages, lol. Just so I can have a firm basis for saying 'Jeez, THAT was crap.'

(aww, kissing doggies! :D)
Kladyphoenixia on December 18th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
I liked her fanfics, I must admit. They were the things that brought me into the HP fandom in the first place, long after all that kerfuffle about plagiarism, and I enjoyed the stories and waited eagerly for the next installments.

And... to me, too, the book read way too much like her fanfic. You could SEE the characters and some of the lines from the fanfic, heck, one particular segment was lifted straight out of her fanfic (the one about a pet falcon?) and didn't reeaaally fit the book, I think she just added because it was one of her favourite bits of writing.

Have yet to get around to reading the others, but no real need to... is it bad that this has made me a little dubious of all fanficcers-turned-authors?
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: bands: PATD: Brendon/Ryan backwards hugscoradh on December 21st, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC)
Mmm. As I said above, all I remember liking about them was the quotes that were from other places. I didn't realise that for a long time, obviously - it was only with my 'retrospectoscope', as doctors love saying, that I saw it. I also tried collecting quotes and weaving them into fic, and jesus CHRIST is that hard. It warps the whole story. I wonder if that's where she fell down? - because this book in no way gelled for me; its aims were a mystery. She needs to develop the courage to CUT CUT CUT, which I find hard to do even in fic - you write past the point, and even if it's good, it needs to go. Um?

I was eagerly awaiting mistful's book before it ever existed, but ... there's definitely one fanfic author whose professional stuff does nothing for me. IDEK.

Edited at 2008-12-21 09:25 pm (UTC)
Gin: CRACKER RAPPER.backinblack on December 19th, 2008 12:19 am (UTC)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: orange fairyscoradh on December 21st, 2008 09:28 pm (UTC)
HAHAHA. The girl who leant it to me was all, DON'T WORRY ABOUT GETTING IT BACK TO ME. I was trying to ask her what her next rotation was, because our class isn't all together again till March. Her response was basically: sweetie, you can KEEP it.
JRevalangui on December 19th, 2008 12:19 am (UTC)
Mmm... interesting, so her fic reads like original fiction and her original fiction reads like fanfic. What a mess!

Thanks for the review, I suppose, it did make me wince but also prevented me to be tempted to read CoB. I actually liked that story of hers in "Chicks in Chains": "Guide to Defeat a Dark Lord" or something like that so I thought her original fiction could be alright.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: Bollywoodscoradh on December 21st, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
See, I do think she has the potential to be a good writer ... if she could just forget about the star following she USED to have in fandom and develop her own voice. I daresay that story you mentioned was far better than anything else she's done, simply because it wasn't cogged from a fanfic base.
(no subject) - evalangui on December 22nd, 2008 12:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on December 22nd, 2008 07:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - evalangui on December 23rd, 2008 03:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - evalangui on December 22nd, 2008 01:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
HD Darkensawhdluff4eva on December 19th, 2008 12:19 am (UTC)
See, now, I dunno. I did like parts of it. I did find it read like her fic trilogy, but I found enough differences in the characters to not make Alec and Jace into Obvious Harry and Draco. I don't know, but when I see them in my mind, I see them as two (four??) different people.

I also have a very vivid mind. I tend to see things as if they were a movie, and that might be why I liked it. I could see the light from the sky window, and the monster coming out of the portal.

It could have been way better, though. Valentine's mostly a younger, less evil Voldemort with two kids, apparently.

Also, the whole sister/brother thing... I don't even get how they could be related!!! The way they're described, they look nothing alike. I can see how Clary favours her mother, and Jace, his father, but as brother and sister, the imagery doesn't work.

Oh, and the teen club thing... I think we may have a teen club in my city... Uhm... Keep in mind, under 17's tend to be worried about judgement when they dance and party. I snuck into a club once when I was 16 (gotta love fakes!!) and was so scared of moving from my barstool. Once I turned 18, it was a little better, but I was still terrified about what others would think of me, and what if I make a fool of myself, and OMG people are brushing against me!!!

I dunno. The club sounds like a typical teen dance club. People kinda moving in the same spot, mostly talking, and drinking pop.

My fave bit about the book? the whole "Turning pictures into real life" and "Get the cup from the terra deck!!"

And Magnus. He's shiny.

I'd say read the second. It's better, IMO. It's a bit less fluffy, and there's a bit more angst and depth to the second one. And I think it's a but better written, reads slightly less of fanfic.


every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Scene girls: black tiarascoradh on December 21st, 2008 09:34 pm (UTC)
The main thing about this book is, of course, that it's Young Adult fiction - and while I'm a Young Adult all right, what they really mean by that is teenagers. Maybe I would have enjoyed it if I were younger (a lot younger, considering I was reading ASOIAF when I was ten). The OTHER important thing, which I probably should have mentioned, is that the subject matter doesn't interest me in the slightest. Demons, eternal curses, quests ... yawn. I prefer fantasy perverted, a la Terry Pratchett or Patricia C Wrede.

Well, clubs in Ireland - even underage clubs - are far more crowded and much more with the grinding. Also the drinking, regardless of what age it's supposed to be for - I mean, people in my class still bring naggins of vodka and whiskey in their bags or in their socks and order pints of orange juice at the bar. And I'm twenty two.

Ah, I shan't be reading any more of this unless someone else happens to lend it to me. For one thing, I'm pretty sure it's not published here.
(no subject) - hdluff4eva on December 22nd, 2008 02:56 am (UTC) (Expand)
R.J.'s Talkback Plebe Radioluciusmalfoy on December 19th, 2008 08:26 am (UTC)
I don't comment on the books of people I know or read my blog, but I should mention that Clary is a very lovely woman, definitely not CC, and who I drank a gigantic beer with in London. If you're wondering where the name came from.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: owlsscoradh on December 21st, 2008 09:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, I never thought CC named her protagonist after herself. I think I even read somewhere about the existence of a real-life Clary - which struck me as odd, simply because I would never be able to separate my characters from their real-life dopplegangers if I named one after the other.
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every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Bands: Katy Perry parasolscoradh on December 21st, 2008 09:40 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I think the whole bestseller thing is a bit of a scam, because do you know who else is a bestselling author? WAYNE ROONEY. And freakin' Jamie Oliver. If you're: a) a footballer b) married to a footballer or c) cook on TV, you're guaranteed a bestselling book. So. Personally I'd prefer the approbation of people like you and tiny sales, but that's because I have a Career Path thingy.
Allika: incense catallika on December 20th, 2008 10:12 am (UTC)
Bravo to you. I actually couldn't finish the book, partly because I accidently spoiled myself early with the whole brother/sister thing and got weirded out, and partly because I put it down, and nothing about the book made me want to pick it up again. Also, Clary bored me and got on my nerves.

I actually really liked CCs fanfic (The Draco series was my first, actually) but the love died quickly when I realized Harry and Draco were obviously meant to be together, and I couldn't read about them being so close without actually snogging.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Bands: MCR Mikey go awayscoradh on December 21st, 2008 09:43 pm (UTC)
I knew about that, but even with the knowledge I wasn't enamoured with the Jace/Clary dynamic ANYWAY. And I couldn't hate Clary: she was so empty, there was nothing to hate.

Yup. I mean, the greatest fanfiction in the history of HP, and it's HARRY/HERMIONE?! WTF!