Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Prince

I have read each book in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series twice. Clare’s The Infernal Devices, is a prequel series to The Mortal Instruments and Clockwork Prince is the second in that series. 

Cassandra Clare has created a new race of superheroes which she has donned as Shadowhunters. Shadowhunters are a race of Nephilim-people who are half angel and half human. They have special abilities that include increased strength and agility and the power to create and bare ancient runes. These ancient runes possess many magical powers and when inked onto the Shadowhunter like a tattoo, transfer that specific power to the wearer. They do this with a special tool all Shadowhunters have. The powers are endless-providing energy, speed, keen sight, or even healing powers. Some marks are temporary and some are permanent, but all are sacred to the Shadowhunter world. 

Shadowhunters protect mundanes (humans) like you and I from all manner of dark and evil creatures. 

Now, besides the unique concept of the Shadowhunter world, there is infinitely more to love about Clare’s books. 

Clare has the uncanny ability to write characters that leap off of the page and into your heart...or under your skin. Even her minor characters leave impressions on the backs of your eyelids. Clare gives her characters more than just description and dialogue, she gives them a strong pulse and sense of realness that you can practically feel their sweat through the pages. 

Such is the case for Clockwork Prince the second installment in The Infernal Devices series. This novel is riddled with characters worth writing about-but for sake of not wanting to gush over every one-I’ll stick to the ones that I swoon over. 

Will, Jem, and Tessa. Three main characters of the story which all have instances where the third person Point of View (POV) focuses from their vantage point. Clare uses the third POV throughout her novels, allowing the readers into the minds of several different characters. Her technique is flawless and never once have I had to stop and wonder ‘ok whose mind am I in now?’ The transitions are effortless and the train of thinking is easily followable. Now for the characters. 

Will and Jem are two 17 year old male Shadowhunters who live in 18th century England.  They are blood brothers sworn to protect each other in the line of duty (fighting demons, etc.) Each one is gorgeous in their own right and each one has a personality that is starkly different from the next. Will is sharp as a razor. Jem is as comforting as a warm blanket. And both become the object of affection for the third main character Tessa. Tessa happens to be a downworlder (a name for warlocks, werewolves, vampires, etc) yet they aren’t sure what type of downworlder she is-except that she is a good one and on their side. She lives in the institute with the Shadowhunters, acting as a sort of liaison-aiding the Shadowhunters in their mission to take down an evil man trying to kill them all off. Her character is witty, sympathetic, and easily relatable. She is thrust into a mythical world she could never have imagined and above all that, she has fallen in love with two boys-both of which love each other like brothers. 

This is one of Clare’s more genius plot lines. She has taken the typical “love-triangle” and turned it on its head. Here we have a balanced love triangle-one where there is no hate that plays into it. Jem and Will love each other like blood and both love Tessa (though neither knows of the other’s feelings) and Tessa loves each in their own way. Clare’s use of this storyline gives the novel a certain immediacy-you’re dying to turn the page because you don’t know what will happen. As a reader, we love all three characters...there is no clear winner as to which person Tessa should end up with. This is part of Clare’s brilliance in writing-like I said before her characters are so real you find yourself hopeless worrying over them! 

Another strength of Clare’s is setting. She describes 18th century England so magnificently I feel as if I had a past life there. Clare weaves sentences together with descriptors and emotions and complies them in a way to reveal the entirety of the place through the characters eyes. We see as they see and feel as they feel. This is true of many novels, but none that I have experienced have been as strong as Clare’s. She makes you smell the rain in the air and feel the bite of the wind blowing through England. 

Clockwork Prince turned out to be another classic Clare novel-brilliant. Clare puts you in the story and as a reader you have to force yourself out-I mean there are things to do during the day and night that don’t involve reading-but Clare makes it awfully tempting to shirk responsibilities and bedtimes. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kimberly Derting's THE PLEDGE

       I picked up Kimberly Derting’s The Pledge because I had fallen in love with her Body Finder series. Derting did not disappoint with her new line-up of characters. The story is told in a multi-narrative structure-most of the story follows the main protagonist Charlie-but the point of view switches to secondary characters in some instances, giving the novel a richly textured plot. 

Derting is brilliant in constructing believable and sympathetic characters-in both this novel and her Body Finder series. Charlie, a teenage girl living in a futuristic dystopian setting, is  compelling even without her supernatural gift of comprehending all forms of languages (something that is forbidden in the class-system setting of The Pledge) She has compassion, strength, and is even daring in a world where the normality is blending in. If for no other reason I fell in love with Charlie because she sneaks a piece of candy to her four-year old sister. In this one elegant paragraph we get to see Charlie has an endearing side that makes us route for her. 

I was thrilled that Derting didn’t make the love interest of Charlie-aka Max-a jerk. So many young adult novels are saturated with male leads being jerks and the female leads continue to fall in love with them. I understand that the trick is to convey the males as unsettled by being forced to feel something for a girl, but come on! Derting didn’t do it in the Body Finder series or this novel and I love her for it. It’s refreshing to see an instant connection between Charlie and Max, even if it is shrouded in mystery. They are obviously from different classes and this presents a forbidden nature to the feelings the characters are having and this in turn makes the reader route for them more. Max is a confident male lead who knows what he wants and goes after it, regardless of laws, social norms, or the class he was born into. And Charlie can’t help but be drawn to his effortless charm, quick-witted remarks, and his genuine interest in her life. 

To avoid major spoilers I’ll conclude by saying Derting has produced a romantic dystopian young adult novel filled with exciting tension, action scenes, and characters you love to be around. The only complaint I have is that there wasn’t near enough kissing scenes between Max and Charlie (of course that is just my opinion lol) 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Writing Great Books for Young Adults" By Regina Brooks

I've just completed this instructional book on how to craft the next best-selling Young Adult novel. It was a wonderful read full of valuable information. It sets itself apart from other books on writing because while Brooks explains the basics, she adds in snippets from her experience as a successful agent. Nothing is clearer than hearing the words straight from an agents mouth or reading them from the pages of a book they've penned. These are the people who I'm trying to get into contact with-in attempting to be a YA author-and reading advice, suggestions, and success and fail stories sheds light on the experience. Whether you're about to start a YA novel, have one or even several completed, or are simply entertaining the idea of breaking into this market, I recommend this book. Brooks introduces concepts you might not have considered and they are easily applied to a ready manuscript. It never hurts to apply a fresh polish to it either.

I'm going to try and gear this blog toward reading and writing. I'm an avid reader of the genre I love to write in-Paranormal/Fantasy YA and read as many books as I can get my hands on. I'll post reviews and recommendations soon and I'm open to any you might have as well.

Good Reading :)