Friday, November 23, 2012

City of Bones Chapter 13

You know, one thing that still bothers me about this book? How much talking everybody does. In the first chapter the Murder Trio and their victim exposited about things they had no earthly reason to talk about--EVERYONE WANTS TO KILL EACH OTHER--so that Clary can understand. In chapter two Clary and her mother talked about how unfair life is, and how they have a sudden burning need to be anywhere else in the world, other than right here. In chapter three, Clary and Jace talked. In chapter four we had action, no talking required. Chapter five? Talking. Six? Talking. Talking. Two chapters ago there was a wild carrage ride I didn't mention because they spent the whole time talking. 

And yet for all of that we know very little of who these characters actually are.

There are two kinds of characterization. One is purposeful, and the other is indvertant. Both are done through their character's actions and words. Bella Swan is a great example of inadvertant characterization. The author intended her to be a good person, but because Bella had all the character traits the author associates with goodness (virginity, modesty, a quiet and retiring nature) she never bothered with purposeful characterization. And so Bella comes off as being a manipulative, controlling, self-centered worthless cinder of a misbegotten human being. In the absence of purposeful characterization, the reader's mind latches on to anything that might resemble a character trait. And if your main character's first action in a book is to mentally sigh and roll her eyes over how childish her mother is, "ungreatful bitch" is going to be your character's first character trait.

The problem with this book? We don't even really get that. We get that Clary is stupid because she goes after Murder Trio without trying to find an adult, something that Simon does. We get that Clary is a terrible friend because of how she treats Simon, and we get that she has truely shitty taste in men because she chooses a verbally abusive, manipulative sociopathic murderer AKA Jace to be her primary love interest. But all Clary does is ask questions about things and whine. She has taken it upon herself to act exactly twice in the book so far. Once to follow the Murder Trio, which may mean her mom getting kidnapped is doubly her fault, and once to go through the magical door into the total unknown that turned out to be Luke's backyard. The rest of the time? She follows Jace around like a good little lamb and thinks judgemental things about the other characters in the book.

The most interesting thing? She has not once, NOT. FREAKING. ONCE. thought about trying to find her mother. She went through the door because she wanted to see where her mom would have gone, implying she knows damn well Mom ain't there. She goes to the party because she wants to get the block out of her memory. She wants the block out of her memory because the Shadowhunters want to know what's so dangerous she can't remember it. Never once does Clary go "hey, maybe this can help me find my Mom!"

I say all this because the first chunk of pages in this chapter is Clary, Jace and Magnus Bane talking about why Mom put the block in Clary's memory. Something any reader with two brain cells figured out three chapters ago:

Clary's mom is Magical Eva Braum, she's deeply ashamed of her having slept with evil incarnate, even more concerned that she's having Evil's baby (Clary) and she badly wants to hide and have her kid be normal. Her kid is not normal, and having a kid who can see things no one else can see is very bad, given the magnitude of secrets Mom is hiding. So she mind-blocked Clary to protect her from the massive number of things that would like to kill her, seeing as how she's Valentine's fucking daughter. 

Even if you left out the part about her being Valentine's daughter--which should have been revealed a long time ago--the rest of Joycelyn Frey's actions make perfect sense.

And of course, we have to have Clary go on a long rant about consent and mind rape, something I have no sympathy for whatsoever, given that Clary had magical sight back for one fucking day before Joycelen got kidnapped and Clary wound up with the absolute last people she should be talking to. Should Joycelyn have been upfront and honest with her daughter, once Clary was old enough to keep the secret? Fuck yes. But you know, given Clary's maturity level, I think Joyce was planning on telling Clary as soon as they got to whatever safehouse she had squirreled away. Clary had to have the block replaced every couple of years, and she was over due enough for Magnus to drop by the Frey place. Mom's too careful to let that happen. So probably she was trying to wait for Clary to display thoughtfulness and foresight, she realized that was never going to fucking happen, and she decided that Clary needed to know things even if she is an idiot.

So after Magnus info dumps things we really don't need to know about, he tells her that the block will wear off and Clary will regain her memories on her own.

So the last three chapters? WERE UTTERLY FUCKING POINTLESS.

And so is what happens next. They go out into the party and Simon has drunk a magcial potion that turned him into a rat.

After screaming at Isabelle, who should have been watching them, Clary hauls Simon out from under the bar. Jace goes for Magnus, who tells them the spell will wear off in a few hours. Clary bitches about how much trouble it'll be to get a rat home on the subway.

Uh...isn't this New York? I'm sure rats have used the subway before.

Anyway, somebody starts a fight and Magnus moves on to stop it before it gets out of hand. Given that there are Phooka and Nixies and the like here, that's a good plan. It turns out to be vampires--uh, getting them taken care of instead of rat-boy is a VERY good plan--who are pissed because they can't find people. Magnus promises to send everyone home and ends the party.

The one cool thing about this scene is, Magnus's cat is named Chairman Meow. I think this is awesome.

And then Clary's mom...uh, sends a telepathic message or something through Magnus, telling Clary not to waste all her sacrifices by trying to save her. Thus justifying Clary having NOT GIVEN HER MOTHER A SINGLE THOUGHT since she got kidnapped.

You know, these moments are when the writer's subconsious is screaming "YOU ARE NOT DOING THIS RIGHT". Just saying.

Moving on.

So Clary leaves the building with the others, smiles at the vampires who are watching her for some reason, gets to whatever vehicle the Murder Trio are using for the night, and discovers that Simon-the-rat is no longer in her backpack.

She compares losing her best friend in rat form to losing her wallet on the subway.

Moving on.

So they go back to Magnus's place, and he tells them that he saw a vampire leave with "a brown rat" that he obviously thought was one of their own. Because of course he did.

Magnus's parties must be AWESOME. Just sayin'.

Moving on.

they ask for the location of the lair. Magnus says no, he won't betray the others to Shadowhunters. Clary sticks her foot in the door and says, "Hey, pretty please" in an attempt to have substance. Magnus tells them where the hotel is.

Finally Jace demands the location of the nearest church, because they're gonna need weapons.


The chapter ends.

So yes, boys and girls. This is really happening. We're taking one fuck of a plot detour involving rats and vampires. Because allowing ANY of this to be related to the kidnapping of Joycelyn Frey--remember that? Clary's Mom?--is asking far, far too much of this author.

Tomorrow: The hotel the vampires stay at is the "Hotel Dumort". It is not the hotel Transylvania, and things go as well as you can expect. MURDER. MURDER EVERYWHERE.

1 comment:

  1. Crunchy here to tell you that, while I have not read this book, "Chairman Meow" is referenced in a television series called Psych. One of the main characters had a cat by that name which comes up fairly frequently in the first few seasons, which I believe came out before or around the same time as Cassandra Clare's first novel. Just sayin'... >_>