Saturday, August 2, 2014

City of Heavenly Fire

Sometimes I just can't write without spoilers, and for that, I apologize. I'll try to keep them out of the first paragraph. Of course, this is the sixth book in the series, so if you haven't started The Mortal Instruments yet, stop reading now- everything is a spoiler (but not so spoilerly as the movie which pretty much blew the entire plot of the next few books... so, if you haven't started, and you think you want to, go ahead and do it. I've stuck with it for six books. It's not Harry Potter, but it's high-drama paranormal adventure, and positively pwns Twilight, even when it's uncomfortable to read).

Now on to the spoilers, because Spoilers make this book what it is- not so much in that the plot turns that make the reader gasp need to be pointed out, but because I feel like it could have been about 150 pages shorter, and a lot of what made it needlessly long was Clare writing around things in that almost spoil the Infernal Devices series. No, that's not true, they really do. When you say to someone who hasn't read the other series "oh look, here's these characters, alive all these years later, with complex relationships that turned out this," when that's the end of the other series, yeah, that's a spoiler. Rather than come out and say who those characters are, Clare spends a multitude of pages writing around who they are so that those who have read it will know, but those who aren't won't- but it becomes redundant and verbose. Yes, it's nice to see characters I loved from the other (my preferred) series return, but cutting to the heart of it wouldn't have hurt anyone. Actually, it might have saved my wrists some strain.

Now, on to the meat of the story. This plot focused on solving problems for everyone more than Clary's internal struggle regarding, well, boys, and the struggle between grasping for your own salvation and self surrender. I liked that. However, once again, her mother proves to only be good at being a plot device who gets herself kidnapped. Really? Can't we go another route? I admit, I'm tired of people getting kidnapped. It was like we'd come full circle back to City of Bones. Clary's mom gets kidnapped by relatives, Simon gets kidnapped by vampires... yeesh, haven't we been there and done that?  The motion of the plot was forward, but the elements were backward.

Again, the main themes were ageism, racism, and whatever ism we use when talking about the extra damaging bigotry that surrounds non-conforming sexuality. If the Shadowhunters have anything down, it's kyriarchy. Although, it sure is nice to see that the younger generations of Shadowhunters are making some positive steps toward a more inclusive and accepting future.

City of Heavenly Fire opens by introducing an entirely new cast of characters who later integrate with our central band of taciturn teenage warriors, and I hope to see them again in subsequent writings by Clare. She has a tendency to recycle characters within her world, and really, theirs was the only story left open in the end.  I particularly liked Emma Carstairs, and hope that things with her and her best friend don't turn to ash because of secret reservations in her heart, and that, right there, is what Clare does best. She creates characters that make you care deeply about them. That is why I still go back for more, even if the whole "kidnapped by Morgensterns" trope is wearing thin. I go back because I care about what happens to the people who inhabit her world.

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