Before I move on to this wonderful new year, I thought you might like to know what I’ve been up to since my last post (the one about NaNoWriMo not the one about being hacked!). Well here’s part one of what I’ve been doing:
NOVEMBER: Failed NaNoWriMo, Read the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare Instead
At the end of October, my wise sister told me that if I spent half the time I spend reading writing instead, I’d be able to bash out 10 novels before the end of the year (or words to that effect). She was right. I do spend a ridiculous amount of time reading and not doing anything else. Not just books either, I trawl the internet every day for hours reading articles and blogs. It’s getting out of hand. I am the master of procrastination, and reading allows me to tell myself I’m achieving something as I can pretend to myself that I’m doing some form of “research”. 2012 was the year I pushed the definition of research to its very limits.
Anyway, when Anna said this I did feel a little guilty and decided to attempt NaNoWriMo 2012. What better to get me to start writing? I even blogged about it to make sure I actually stuck to it (LOL). It was all going so well, in two days I’d written 2000 words and had a pretty fun love-at-the-end-of-the-world type plot planned.
After the first two days things began to unravel. I went to three different bonfire parties in four days which meant, naturally that I’d left my novel temporarily and promised to catch up in the week. I wrote a little more on my phone after a drunken night out (totally illegible drivel) but after that I had lost the drive to forge on. I told myself I was too busy, I’d catch up next week when I had more time.
The following week, I discovered the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I’d seen them before but thought they looked a little too childish, even for me. However when I saw them recommended on another blog by a grown up man, I thought I’d give them a go. Plus they’ve made the first book into a film and I wanted to check out the books before the films release later this year. NaNoWriMo was a lost cause after that.
I’m not sure why I was worried about the Mortal Instruments series being too young, as they’re similar in feel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Divergent, The Hunger Games trilogy, and many other YA books I have read and enjoyed. I suppose I don’t want to be that person who only reads YA, so I try not to limit myself to it all the time. I enjoy reading all sorts and don’t want to be defined by one genre. Having said that, YA fantasy and Sci Fi is always what I feel like writing about when I sit down to blog. It is an exciting genre that’s getting better and better and I don’t feel as wary of writing critically about it as I do with classics and literary fiction.
Anyway, I read the first three books in the Mortal Instruments series in about a week and a half. The books are City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass, and all follow Clary, a girl who has her world turned upside down after finding out she is a shadowhunter, a demon killer. Clary meets other shadowhunters her own age: Isabelle, Alec and the rather lovely Jace. When her mother goes missing in mysterious circumstances, Clary needs the shadowhunters’ help. Her search for her mother and missing childhood memories takes her all over New York, with her geeky and sarcastic but loveable friend Simon dragged along for the ride. As the books progress, Clary learns more about her past, her parents and the world of shadowhunters, downworlders and demons.
I liked these books because they were plot-driven, super exciting stories with a cracking forbidden love story
(although I did start shouting in frustration by the middle of the third book). What’s more, Simon, who should just be the annoying friend, turns out to be an excellent character. In fact, I’d say that Clare found the perfect balance between keeping the plot moving and exploring and developing the characters. All in all, I bloody loved these books! Even if I am indulging my inner teenager.
The Mortal Instruments series will eventually be made up of 6 books but only 5 have so far been released. Because the third book ended in such a wonderful place I told myself I would leave it there and resist the temptation to pick up the other two until the series had been completed (in 2014!!). Clare has also written another trilogy of books set within the same world but set in Victorian times, these are called The Infernal Devices. Only two of the three have so far been released, so I told myself I would wait until the third book came out before picking up the third. We’ll see how far I got with all this temptation-resisting when I recap on December!
So, that was my disastrous November. Failed NaNoWriMo, went to a lot of parties and read a few books. Any time I wasn’t reading/partying I spent helping my sister photograph a school and generally panicking over my lack of a serious job. But hey! It’s a new year now, so moping is strictly forbidden. Bring on 2013!
Sorry it’s been a couple of weeks, I was ill last week and have also been stuck in a bit of a Murakami-induced rut. But more about that another time (Murakami, that is, not the illness). Now, I know what you’re thinking…”Not more teen fantasy/sci-fi!”. I’m sorry, I can’t help it, I’m addicted to the stuff.
I first heard about this book when I was on my way to a Halloween ghost tour. I am embarrassingly late in writing this review actually, it seems that everyone else on the internet blogged about it last autumn. Anyway, I was on my way to Croft Castle on a dark and stormy October’s evening…Laini Taylor was on the radio and she was describing the main character of the book, Karou, and it sounded like Daughter of Smoke and Bone was just my cup of tea. And as it turns out, it was. I raced through it in a couple of days and was totally bereft when it came to an end.
Karou is a blue-haired tattooed art student living in Prague. The only family she has ever known are other-worldly creatures called chimaera who have a shop which sells wishes to humans in exchange for teeth. Karou has to balance her classes with errands for Brimstone, who runs the shop and is the closest thing to a father figure she has. Karou doesn’t know anything about her real family or why she has mysterious tattoos on her hands. To her friends at school she talks freely of her “family” and the shop but they assume it is all a product of Karou’s amazing imagination.
The shop where Brimstone works is mysterious in itself, its door can only be opened from the inside, and can open onto several different places around the world. Although Karou grew up in the shop she does not know much about Brimstone and the other chimaera; they have never told her what the teeth are for, or where the other door in the back of the shop leads to.
Strange things start happening; all the doors around the world which lead to Brimstone’s shop are
becoming marked with scorch marks. Then, when running an errand for Brimstone in Morocco Karou is attacked by a beautiful winged man, a seraphim, and she flees back to the shop injured. However, she has trouble returning home and when she gets there Brimstone is absent. Then the seraphim who attacked Karou, Akiva, becomes fascinated with the girl with the blue hair and decides to try to find out more about her. Things really start kicking off after this, but if I carry on I’ll ruin the book completely for anyone thinking of reading it. I’ve probably already said too much! At about the half way mark you won’t be able to put the book down. Karou’s tale is all about discovering who she really is, what the shop and the wishes are for, and (of course) falling in love.
I really loved the book, it was so imaginatively thought out, I could really picture everything clearly, the beastly chimaera and the beautiful seraphim. I loved the settings, Prague, Morocco, Elsewhere. They were different but all so vivid. I also loved Karou, she’s a bit quirky and she can fight well but isn’t without weaknesses, she’s a believable character that you feel for. I also loved the mystery of the book, I was dying to find out about Karou’s past, the other world, and how it all tied together. It all unfolded really nicely and quite shockingly as well, I wasn’t disappointed. I was a little dismayed when it became apparent that I wouldn’t get to find out what happened to Karou and Akiva at the end of this book (I hate being left hanging by a fantasy series!); Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first of a trilogy. It doesn’t look like the next book will be coming out too soon either, I think we are talking about the end of 2012.
One of the main things I loved about this book were the little touches and attention to detail, like the other world’s myths and traditions. The whole book felt well thought out and put together. I sometimes feel that teen fantasy and science fiction lacks some of the detail that their adult counterparts have, but this definitely wasn’t the case with Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I also don’t think the book is particularly young or overwhelmingly fantasy-ish, I think adults who don’t normally read fantasy or sci-fi would still love it. The world Laini Taylor has created is imaginative, but it isn’t as alien or hard to read as some are; she doesn’t get bogged down in long descriptions or spend pages on the history of the chimaera and the seraphim.
There is only one little teeny tiny criticism I have about this book, which seems a shame as I really did enjoy it so much. I found some of it a tad on the mushy side, the love story was a little bit vom-tastic for my taste. But then again, I might just have found it a bit annoying because I’m a bitter and cynical person! I would absolutely not let this put you off reading it though, it is a lot less mushy than the Twilight books. It’s just that occasionally I wanted to shake the main characters and shout “Get a grip! She’s not that lovely!”
Has anyone else read this book? I haven’t actually spoken to anyone who has so it would be nice to hear what other people thought of it. If you haven’t, I’d recommend picking it up immediately! It’s also worth noting that it looks like it will be made into a film soon(ish) as Universal have acquired the rights to it. I’m not sure a film could do the book justice but we’ll have to wait and see!