Saturday, July 2, 2011

City of Fallen Angels Review

This is the fourth book in the Mortal Instruments series.  It's probly important to note that the first three books had a set story arc that concluded in the last book, City of Glass, thus this book begins a completely independent plotline, albeit utilizing the same characters we've grown to know and love.  In fact, after finishing City of Fallen Angels, I'm not sure (tho I have a suspicion) why this new story is part of the Mortal Instruments and not a different series in its own right. Regardless, I think this is the best of them so far, although I know I'm in the minority there.

The truth is, that while I liked the original trilogy, I didn't think they were as great as everyone made them out to be. I think part of the problem is that I didn't buy into the setup in the first book, so I wasn't surprised by the twist in the third (in fact, for me, it felt like it was way too long in coming).  The plot was convoluted and tried to be too clever by half.

The other thing affecting my enjoyment was the blas√© attitude toward God.  A bit ironic coming from an atheist, I know, but if you're going to write a series of books focusing on nephilim, angels, and demons then God is a tad more than just a place holder for the unknown.  Despite this, Cassandra establishes that the "shadowhunters" (nephilim, yeah THOSE nephilim... you know... the one's with the angel blood in their veins) belong to no specific religion and are assisted by all of them.  Our teenage protagonists are a little too "teenager-ish" when you consider they hunt demons with special powers on loan from God.  Both Jace and Clary are skeptical about his existence (Jace at one point says something to the affect that if God does exhist, then he just doesn't care), it is heavily implied that neither Jace nor Isabelle are virgins and Alec is gay. Don't get me wrong.  None of these things bother me personally (atheist, remember?), nor does Cassandra's use of violence, language, or alcohol and drug references, BUT it does strike me as somewhat internally inconsistant.

As previously stated, City of Fallen Angels begins a new story arc in the Mortal Instruments and splits the focus between Simon and Clary.  Something is killing shadowhunters and leaving their bodies in the different outworlder territories causing distrust between the various factions; Jace and Clary still haven't come to terms with each other; and Simon is learning to cope with his un-life and new mark.  This book is clearly a setup for at least one more and some reviews I've read have stated that it is the first in a second trilogy.

I like Cassandra's writing style and ALL of the books have been interesting so far. She's pretty good at character building despite my problems with her mythos.  I liked this one better because it felt less contrived than its forerunners.  I am eager to see how she handles the cliffhanger, tho I wish she had gone a different direction with the major bad guy (can't get into this more without spoilers).  All in all an enjoyable read, but could be somewhat offensive if you have strong religious beliefs.

-Chris

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