My list of books I mean to read, not just want to but mean to, is getting a little obstreperous. And then there is the guilt. Books I’ve been meaning to read for a while. A long while. And books gifted to me for Christmas.
It’s time to read more and that’s fun to talk about. I went through a bit of a fluff jag there in summer, reading YA novels that were all about impulse reading. I read two back-to-back that were very similar in concept and audience, but only one satisfied.
I started with City of Bones, book one of the Mortal Instruments series. The display at the library really sucked me in. The cover design on these is great – it’s got what seems to be the currently obligatory ‘photo of human’, but the focus on the body rather than the face, the texture added to the photos, and the cityscape all combine to make a compelling design. The premise: teenaged Clary discovers that beneath the facade of normalcy that we all assume is reality there is a whole world of magic and demons. Sounds familiar? Yeah. Also: she might be a Chosen One in the Fated Fight to Save Us All. Sure it’s been done before, but it’s awesome if done well.
My biggest disappointment with this book is that it read exactly like fan-fic for Buffy, but without the strong female, witty dialogue, or unpredictability. There was only one plot point which surprised me in all 500+ pages. And Clary was a bit of a bonehead. She’s one of those protagonists (cannot bring myself to call her a hero) that makes you want to shout at the book, “Have you not read a single book or seen a single movie?! Can you not see the bleeding obvious?! Oh, hell, did you really just ignore all those clues and flashing arrows ? Yes, yes, you did. Fine.”
My next read was Wicked Lovely and coming on the heels of City of Bones this one seemed to be a lesson in how to do urban fantasy correctly. The premise: Aislinn can see faeries, but suddenly the rules that have kept her safe from them aren’t working. I liked it. Aislinn’s got grit and determination. The world she’s drawn into felt familiar but not rehashed; unlike City of Bones, where I felt like I was walking a path that hundreds of writers and directors had turned into a freeway, this maintained the feeling of a track in the woods. The familiarity was more like entering a place in a dream and the dream narrative tells you it feels familiar, and with a faerie story that’s a good thing. Most surprising of all was the romance, which felt real but played out in ways that surprised me. Now, I haven’t read a lot of YA romance, so this is coming from someone remembering YA romance from back in the day as well as her own teenage romance. But the moments felt real.