Thursday, 5 May 2011

City Of Fallen Angels by Cassanda Clare

City Of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
Release Date: 5th April 2011
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 432
Buy The Book: Amazon

"Someone has been killing the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle and leaving their bodies around New York City in a manner designed to provoke hostility between Downworlders and Shadowhunters. Internecine warfare among vampires is ripping the Downworld community apart, and only Simon — the Daylighter who everyone wants on their side — can decide the outcome; too bad he wants nothing to do with Downworld politics. Meanwhile, Jace and Clary investigate a mystery that has deeply personal consequences for them — consequences that may strengthen their relationship, or rip it apart forever. Love, blood, betrayal and revenge: the stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels."

As an avid fan of what used to be the Mortal Instruments Trilogy, and an excited follower of Clare’s other series, The Infernal Devices, I had mixed emotions when I learned that there was to be a fourth MI book. The complicated plotlines and even more complex characters have proven themselves to make a compelling read, and part of me felt that the more books of Clare’s on offer, the better. I’d sit and read the telephone book if she’d had a hand in writing it. However, City Of Glass was one of the most striking books I’ve read in a long time, in that the ending was so perfect without being nauseating or too perfectly tied-up a la J.K.Rowling’s ’19 Years Later’. I put down CoG with both tears and a smile on my face. Every character got the ending they deserved, and in the strangest way I didn’t want to read any more about them. I wanted Clare to leave them alone and let them have their happy ending. They’d been through enough!

It was with a dubious anxiety that I picked up CoFA, and after devouring it in less than 24 hours, I think I was right to be dubious. The book lacked the witty spark I always associated with Clare’s work – in almost all of her previous books there have been numerous lines that I’ve insisted on reading out to people because they tickled me so much. I had always admired that, even when placed in the most depressing situations, the characters in MI seemed to be able to say something that would put a smile on my face. There is much less comic relief in CoFA.

Character wise, Clary, although showing flashes of brilliance with her angelic talent for creating runes, seemed oddly ‘fanfiction-ish’. You’d think that after almost single-handedly bringing down an evil dictator such as Valentine, a girl might have some confidence. You’d be wrong. Despite still being the most talented Shadowhunter on the planet, Jace has lost his irresistible dangerous edge, turning into a sort of Edward Cullen-style mopey martyr, too worried about hurting Clary and forever moaning about what an awful person he is. Simon, whose battle against and acceptance of his new vampire status is a major theme of the book, is disappointingly pedestrian for a ‘Daylighter’, although this can also be viewed as one of his better traits. Isabelle and Maia are a breath of fresh air in the face of Clary’s woeful lack of self-belief – the relationship between Maia and her ex-boyfriend Jordan is definitely one to watch in the upcoming books.

Concerning the plot and the storyline, I had previously thought that it would take a pretty special baddie to eclipse the Voldemort-esque Valentine. But Clare has succeeded, creating a villain of literally Biblical proportions in Lilith (and bringing back an old one who never quite got what he deserved). However this new enemy is only introduced in the last few chapters – the rest of the book is a lot like City Of Bones in that it very much lays the groundwork for the books to come. As readers, we spend a lot of this book piecing together cryptic clues that won’t make any sense until the end of the book (or even the next books in the series). A lot of the time I didn’t feel ‘in the know’, I was just plodding along and hoping it would all become clear to me at the climax of the novel.

I don’t want to be entirely negative about the book. I genuinely enjoyed reading it, as I always do with Clare’s novels. They’re very well-crafted, imaginative (probably an understatement) and intuitively written. I got a little thrill out of seeing Camille and Will’s names mentioned (characters from Infernal Devices, the companion series) and I always enjoy scenes which feature Magnus. It would have taken a pretty incredible book to topCoG and I don’t think CoFA has managed that, but I am looking forward to the rest of what looks to be another hit series for Cassandra Clare.

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