Thursday, November 29, 2012

City of Bones Chapter 16

This may come as a surprise to those of you who read my books, but I like action.

Starbleached is the way it is (Flash back, flash forward, flash back, flash forward) because otherwise it would have been a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG time before we got to the interesting parts. It was either juggle explaining why the plot was what it was with the actual interesting bits, or bore the utter living shit out of you trying to set everything up. I went with the first option, figuring that Memento: The book wouldn't be annoying as long as it stayed short.

My point with name dropping my own stuff in this review? I like character interactions, too, as long as they are interesting character interactions. There is no action in P&P for example, and yet I love every moment about it. Mostly because every moment is telling us something about these characters. And you know the Kiera Knightly movie? There's one scene that is the most telling moment in it. It's short and it's subtle. Darcy helps Elizabeth into her family's carrage after Bingley's party. She appears shocked, as he's actually touching her. He walks away. Camera cuts to his hand, which he is flexing rather quickly. Short, quick, over in a second, but you know that her presence has affected him, somehow. It allows the next big moment in their relationship (his proposal of marriage in the gondola) to happen with only a couple more interactions between Darcy and Elizabeth (...I think the next time they talk is at Lady De Bough's house, when Lizzie is attempting to play the piano.)

Cassandra Clare? Is not nearly that subtle. She wants to build romance between characters, and I think poor Applebloom will be puking quite a bit in the paragraphs to come.

They go back to the Institute (...infidels being protected by consecrated ground by a God they don't believe in. And Jace says God doesn't care.) and Hodge reads all three of them, Simon included, the riot act. Let's cover all the things Jace has done in the last few hours:

-Involve no less than three percieved mundanes in Clave business (He thought Random Hispanic Dude AKA Raphael the Vampire was a mundie at the time, so it counts for stupid)
-Put Simon's life in danger by taking him to Magnus's party
-Invade the home of vampires who were minding their own business (they thought Simon was their rat)
-Hurt the vampires who were formerly minding their own business, in ways that were possibly fatal
-Possibly break the Accords between Clave and Downworlders by doing the two above items.
-Possibly incite a war between vampires and werewolves, because the two aren't supposed to be ANYWHERE  NEAR each other.
-Steal a vampire's motor cycle and fly it over downtown New York

I'd ground the little bastard two. Preferably into bone meal, because I think he'd be better off as fertilizer.

Then they all troop off to the infirmary, though Clary takes time out for a shower. Jace and Clary exchange sexually laden innuendo and romantic tension. Simon gives her a kiss. And hey, I haven't pointed out descriptive fail in a while:

“Sure.” To her surprise he leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek. It was a butterfly kiss, a quick brush of lips on skin, but as she pulled away, she knew she was blushing.
First of all...

Secondly...and I really hate myself for knowing this...that is not what a butterfly kiss is. I grew up in a borderline Christian fundamentalist household, meaning that Harry Potter was banned, but Terry Brooks and David Eddings were not (Figure that out, sports fans) and the only thing our radio played was Christian Music. Newsboys. Audio Adrenaline. Stephen Curtis Chapman. Mercy Me (who are still awesome). Kendall Payne (who is, no bullshit, the best lyracist I have heard in my entire LIFE. Seriously. Go find "Wonderland" on youtube and listen to it. If by some God granted miracle the Exile books ever turn into an actual tv/ movie thing, that song is the theme song)

Anyway, one of the less awesome acts in CCM was a dude named Bob Carislile. There is mellow, and then there is that shit. And the song that he was best known for was a song called "Butterfly Kisses". Todd in the Shadows, one of my favorite human beings of all time, ever, uses a term "overplay" to describe when a radio station pounds a song into the ground so hard the individual music notes wind up in China. Those of you who do not listen to CCM have no idea what this thing is. If you combined the overplay of "Hey Soul Sister", Kesha and Katy Perry, you'd be about halfway to the level of bone-chilling nausia I felt whenever "Butterfly Kisses" hit the airwaves back in 98-04, when I stopped listening to CCM exclusively. I promise you, it is still on the airwaves. I am embedding the music video for the song down below, but promise me. You don't want to hear it.

So what is a Butterfly kiss? It's where you hold your eyes really close to someone's cheek...and blink. Fast. Like Bella in the "WTF is Human?" scene in BDpt2. So that the other person feels like a butterfly is tickling their cheeks with their eyelashes.

Hold on...

Okay, better now.

So yeah. It is not a "there and gone again" kiss, Clare. Look this shit up.

Clary, of course, misses the ENTIRE POINT and decides Simon's showing off for Isabelle.She wanders off. Alec follows her and then...*sigh*

The biggest problem I have with this book is one I can no longer ignore. Not that I've ignored it all that much, but here goes. Jace is Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter. Fandom Draco, where he's suave and dashing and not the constipated little shit from the real books and movies, but for all intents and purposes, The HP fandom took Draco, brushed his hair and taught him how to sit up straight, and then Cassandra Clare repackaged him for this book. Which would not be a huge problem IF Cass's hero worship of Draco wasn't oozing out of every page. This is her perfect human being and oh holy fuck does it ever show. Clary is a perfectly beautiful person NOT because the main character has to be perfect for her own self, but because only a perfectly beautiful person is worthy of Draco Malfoy. It's that pretty girl door prize that all boy are promised.

The problem? He's still a constipated little shit. He's just got better lines this time around.

Seriously. Jace is a terrible human being. He's a bigot. And by bigot I don't mean the "the black people are worth fifty points" game my racist relatives used to play. I mean he actively hates the visibly different so much he becomes homicidal around them. He says hideously insulting things to EVERYBODY around him. I have glossed over the number of terrible, terrible things Jace has said. He's a bully, he's so self-absorbed unrequited love directed at him only amuses him. He makes Ted Bundy look like a well adjusted human being with a few small anger issues. And this book worships him.

However, the last couple of chapters? Have been less than flattering for Mr. Weyland. First, he brought a mundane to a magical party and lost him to vampires. Then he broke his system's own rules going after the mundane he lost. Then he came very close to restarting a civil war. Then he got his ass rightfully chewed by his boss for doing the above stupid things. He also reveled that he's a religious bigot as well as a racist one. And as any author worth their salt will intuit, he needs some salvaging. Normally, this would be where the character is required to make some great sacrifice, preform some good deed, or otherwise do something to make up for being an utter asshole during his screen time. He would do something that would require significant character growth, promising that eventually, his asshole bigoted nature will go away.

Clare does not allow him to do this, because if he stopped being a racist, bigoted little shit he would stop being a direct clone of Draco Malfoy. So instead, she sends Alec after Clary to tell her, and by extension, the rest of us, what a fragile, precious little snowflake Jace really is.

“You don’t understand,” Alec said. “You don’t know him. I know him. He thinks he has to save the world; he’d be glad to kill himself trying. Sometimes I think he even wants to die, but that doesn’t mean you should encourage him to do it.”

You know who else thought they were saving the world? Hitler and the SS. No bullshit. Find a documentary on them, ANY documentary, and see for yourself. The power of thinking you're on the side of the angels is the kind that blinds you to your own terrible actions. The road to hell isn't paved with good intentions, kids. It's paved with self righteousness and bigotry. Combine the two, and everyone around you is fucked.

And I haven't gotten that vibe from Jace at all. I've gotten suave ladies' man. I've gotten murderer. I've gotten abused plaything. I haven't gotten superman.

Second, Alec's whole rant is way, way, way WAY off the mark. He says nobody asked her to get involved and she should just go home, and that's the biggest load of horse pucky this book has thrown at us so far. Clary is not here by her own choice. She's stayed here by her own choice, but she didn't even walk into the Institute for the first time under her own power. Clary got involved in Clave business because Jace hunted her down after the murder episode in the night club. If he hadn't gone to find her, if he had just ignored her being there, worst case senario is she would have faced the ravener demon and the demon cops outside her apartment on her own. Given that Dorothea was there with a magical doorway, there's a good chance that Clary could have survived with a little extra Downworlder help. Which, as this book will soon reveal, she definately would have gotten. Alternatively, she could have grown a spine and gone home in time for her and her mom to escape Valentine together. But Jace showed up, after everyone, Hodge included, had told Jace to drop it and leave Clary alone. So her being involved in the Clave? It's Jace's fault. Jace brought Clary to the institute the first time, Jace decided that Clary needed to go see the Silent Brothers, Jace decided that they then needed to go see Magnus Bane, Jace allowed Simon to tag along, and then left him alone with Isabelle and Alec, whose anti-mundane retoric should definately have disqualified them as babysitters. Jace decided to go after the vampires without backup. Clary hasn't even had a clue what the fuck is going on half the time. Jace has been in control the whole way. But what does Alec say?

“You mundanes are completely selfish, aren’t you? Have you no idea what he’s done for you, what kind of personal risks he’s taken? I’m not just talking about his safety. He could lose everything. He already lost his father and mother; do you want to make sure he loses the family he’s got left as well?”
Right. Because it's selfish to want to understand where your mother went. Because it's selfish to ask for protection from the people who probably inadvertantly exposed Joycelyn to her enemies (again. Clary's mom has been on the run for sixteen years, and she is kidnapped within twenty four hours of Clary meeting Jace. In fact, given what I know about the other characters involved? Mom getting abducted is Jace's fault too, because he mentioned this Shadowhunter-seeing mundane girl to the wrong person.) It's selfish to expect the boneheaded moron who got your best friend turned into a rat and then kidnaped by vampires due to his not giving a shit to go out of his way to fix things.

And then? The book loses me. Because this is not characterization, kids. this is Clare slamming our heads into the wall, screaming "JACE IS A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE! JACE IS A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE!" Clary decides that Alec is "partly right".

This is victim blaming.

That Fundie household I grew up in? Sometimes, and not all the time, but sometimes, it could be emotionally abusive. I did wind up blaming myself for things that were not my fault. I remember once clearly believing that my asking for toys had caused my parents' bank account to become overdrawn. The victim's most natural self-protective reaction when faced with emotional abuse is to blame themselves for the abuse. It allows them to modify their behavior into something that will get them out of the situation alive.

This is not what Clare is going for. Instead, Clare gets angry because Alec is right, and her life is so unfair and everyone else is so mean to her, and she says ugly things back at Alec. And not just ugly things. Weaknesses and secrets that Jace shared with her in confidence, trusting that she would not use them against one of his own oldest friends. And then her own observation that he's in love with Jace. I have had this done to me, and sadly, I have done this. It is the ugliest, most underhanded thing a person can do short of doing physical harm.

So Alec ups the ante by hitting her and telling her never to bring it up to Jace, or he'll kill her. Well, boys and girls, if Clary were a decent human being? She wouldn't have brought it up with Alec.

So she goes to bed, scribbles a little, has a big cry about how her whole life has been a lie (Newsflash: Your mother had to keep secrets from you. You were a kid and she was in hiding, and if she hadn't kept things hidden you would have blown it. Her mistake was in keeping those secrets too long, not in having them in the first place.) and then Simon shows up to comfort her. They say sweet things and it is all friend-romantic.

Unfortunately Simon falls asleep in her bed, so she has to go off and find somewhere else to sleep, and who should show up but Jace!

Yeah. Literally. She pingpongs from one boy to another. Because we haven't hinted at this enough, it's time to develop it into a full-fledged nightmarish thing.

Of course, where Simon is an adorable teddy bear, Jace is perfect. Except for one tooth, which is "endearingly chipped".

...I can't use the Applebloom picture again, can I?

She asks him why he's here, and he spouts off some metaphysical bullshit to show us how uncomfortable he is with his feeeeeeeelings. Then he produces a basket, tells Clary he just found out from Hodge that it's her birthday--how would he know this?--and takes her up to the roof for a romantic rooftop picnic under the stars, to celebrate her birthday.


Next chapter: I need more cutesy romance-induced puking macros, because it's entirely possible Applebloom might die before chapter 17 is over.

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