Saturday, November 3, 2012

City of Bones chapter 2

In the spirit of "pot, meet kettle" I'm going to point something out. Chapter two opens with this paragraph:

The dark prince sat astride his black steed, his sable cape flowing behind him. A golden circlet bound his blond locks, his handsome face was cold with the rage of battle, and . . .“And his arm looked like an eggplant,” Clary muttered to herself in exasperation. The drawing just wasn’t working.
Think of adjectives as trailers and nouns as cars. Sometimes--like when you're driving a Ford F350--you can hitch the two together without doing too much damage to the car. Other times--it's a H2 hummer--you can't. My point? You don't have to give every fucking car a trailer. Dark prince, black steed, sable cape, golden circlet, blond locks, handsome face, which is also cold. Every adjective added to a noun dilutes the previous...even when its added to a new noun. Also? I get it. I get it. The fucking prince is fucking dressed in fucking black. 

That said, the concept in chapter two's opening paragraph is something I get. See, Clary is an artist. Clary's mother is also an artist, but Clary sees Mom's art as being effortless, and her own as being a lot of work. I had the same relationship with my mother's art. I didn't draw anything seriously until I was sixteen years old and somehow understood that, when you're learning how to draw, it is okay to suck. You get better at it. IMHO the best thing that ever happened to me was working on the Comic Genesis, then Keenspace forums. Because the other artists NAILED me man. They taught me that this shit is never effortless. Now mom swears our roles are reversed. I don't think so. I still need to use the transform tool to make faces look right.

All this would be great, if the previous chapter hadn't ended with Clary wittnessing a murder and then lying about it. 

I re-read the end of the last chapter and I kind of glossed over how unbelievably quickly Clary lies about what she saw. Jace and the other members of the Murder Trio killed a boy--they claimed he was a demon, but he looked human enough--right in front of her, fucking whipped her, and when somebody says "Hey, you said people  came in here with knives," she said "Hey, I guess I was wrong" while the people with the knives were in the room grinning at her. 

She's got no reason to cover for the Murder Trio. Clare tries desperately hard to give Clary a reason, but none of it works. The fact is that the plot demands that Clary not be an idiot by screaming her head off, when that's exactly what a normal human being would do, and the "plot" my friends, requires we give our all. Or whatever.

So now Clary is practicing her drawing after watching a boy get violently killed, right in front of her.

I saw a cat get run over by a car once. Right in front of me. The thing I remember the most was how he didn't die right away. This big old red truck rolled him, and the cat kept running. He actually picked up speed and ran right past me into our flower bushes. I felt relieved. One, that I hadn't seen the cat get killed, and two, that the cat hadn't died. I started screaming at the truck. Only the cat fell into the bushes and started...I guess it was a seizure, but it looked more like the cat was fighting with some imaginary thorn-vine demon for its right to keep living, and losing. My dad realized that the cat was dead, was more than dead, and he tried to keep me from looking at it after that. But I remember looking back as he picked up the pieces, and seeing just a little bit of blood running out of the cat's nose and mouth. His name was Tux, for tuxido, because he had tuxido style markings. We used to throw rocks at him because he was a mean old thing. When Dad was done cleaning up, he realized he needed to do something with me, fast, so he took me to Dairy Queen and bought me a caramel sundae. I couldn't eat it. I don't think I did much more than shiver for the rest of that afternoon. It was that little bit of blood. I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Clary? Sees more than a little bit of blood. And Clary? Doesn't seem to give a fuck.

After failing at drawing for a while, her friend Simon makes a prank call that isn't all that funny:

“Hi, I’m one of the knife-carrying hooligans you met last night in Pandemonium? I’m afraid I made a bad impression and was hoping you’d give me a chance to make it up to—”
Also, Clary's full name is "Clarissa".

Boys and girls, I'd like for you to take one moment to consider the following trend:



I'll spot you one Katness but I'll raise you a Prim
Okay. I'm better now.

Clary decides to meet her BFF Simon somewhere, and then wanders around her own home so we can see what it's like. Also, we find out that she's never met her father, a honorable decorated soldier who died overseas. His name was Jonathan.

Her Uncle Luke shows up! Hey, cool. You want to talk to him about the murder you witnessed yesterday? No? What are you going to talk about, then?

...The Golden Bough. Because a fifteen year old girl who goes clubbing and covers up a murder would totally read really old fashioned fairy tale magic stuff.

And then...oh, my freaking God, given how much the murder thing bothers me, this exchange is kind of incredible:

"What would you do if you saw something nobody else could see?"

The tape gun fell out of Luke’s hand, and hit the tiled hearth. He knelt to pick it up, not looking at her. “You mean if I were the only witness to a crime, that sort of thing?” 
“No. I mean, if there were other people around, but you were the only one who could see something. As if it were invisible to everyone but you.”
Clary. Honey. YOU ARE THE ONLY WITNESS TO A CRIME. Yes. In the universe of the Murder Trio what they did was justifiable. YOU DO NOT KNOW THIS. And you have decided to completely IGNORE a murder because the guy doing it was kind of hot. Google "Karla Homolka" to find out how this usually ends, okay angel cakes?

Then Mom shows up and we find out that Mom is gorgeous and Clary is short and everybody says she looks like Mom but that's not true because Mom is pretty and Clary can't be pretty and blah blahMarySuefreaking blah. She's hot, okay? She just doesn't know it. 

One of my favorite books as a kid was Jennifer Murdly's Toad, by Bruce Corville. Jennifer was not pretty. By the end of the book she has a chance to become pretty and chooses not to. It was probably one of my favorite books because Jennifer wasn't pretty.

There is a really ugly irony here, and I feel like a bitch for point it out, but I kind of, you know, am, so I'm going to do it anyway. The author is not skinny. Personally I think she looks cute, but she's definately not, to directly quote the book she wrote, "willowy and tall". For some reason, western culture has a "thing" where women have value when they are eye candy, and have little value when they are not. The author, who definately has a horse in the "conventional beauty" race, had a chance to do something interesting with beauty standards, and instead chose to go all Glenda the Good Witch, "Only Bad Witches Are Ugly" and hey, let's pile MORE image issues onto YA audiences. And this is a running theme in the book. It's not even Good Guys are Beautiful, Bad Guys are Not, it's more...only pretty people are worth even getting cast in the book, let alone being given a supporting role that doesn't make you want to eat your shorts. The only primary cast member who has any imperfection at all is Simon (Glasses) and as I've already established, he is this book's Ute. He deserves all the things and he will not get one of them.

It's not a huge deal, but if your character is going to aingst about not being pretty, don't make them pretty. It gives them a little depth, and depth is something this book needs. Badly.

Moving on.

So because of what happened last night--which, remember, Clary has lied about, repeatedly. BECAUSE IT WAS A MURDER--Mom has decided to move everybody out of town for the rest of the summer. And Clary, who witnessed a murder and thus has a VERY good reason to get the fuck out of dodge, is all like BUT MY FRIENDS!!!! ALL SUMMER???? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (/darth vader) 

So Mom--whose real name is Joicelyn--and Luke have a stage whispered conversation about how somebody is out of town, and what's Mom going to do, she can't keep Clary locked up all the time, and Luke reminds her how Clary isn't Jonathan. And then Simon shows up and Joycelyn lets her daughter run off with him without putting up much of a fight.

If I pulled half that shit with my parents at fifteen, my ass would have been grounded.

Hey, how much family does Clary have?

Clary sucked in air to cool her burning mouth. “I mean, she never talks about herself. I don’t know anything about her early life, or her family, or much about how she met my dad. She doesn’t even have wedding photos. It’s like her life started when she had me. That’s what she always says when I ask her about it.”

Yeah. We're totally not hiding anything from our daughters, now are we?

Also, Clary sees a random cat dude and does nothing at all about it. Her mom tries to get her to come home, but Clary decides to do things with her friends instead. We're now losing television privleges in my home. They discuss band names for Simon's band, and I would totally love a band called Lawn Chair Crisis, but apparently that's not "Cool" enough for a world where clubs and murders happen in church basements.

And then Simon pressures Clary to become his girlfriend.

“Which means,” Simon continued, “that I am the last member of the band not to have a girlfriend. Which, you know, is the whole point of being in a band. To get girls.”
 “I thought it was all about the music.” A man with a cane cut across her path, heading for Berkeley Street. She glanced away, afraid that if she looked at anyone for too long they would sprout wings, extra arms, or long forked tongues like snakes. “Who cares if you have a girlfriend, anyway?”

Contrived plot is fucking contrived, folks.

After ignoring her mother's calls yet again, (At this point, my father would institute a point card system if I ever wanted to see the outside again) Clary goes off to a poetry reading (REALLY?) and the chapter ends.

TOMORROW: Bella Swan ain't got nothin' on Clary in the bitch department.

No comments:

Post a Comment