City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
This book continues The Mortal Instruments series. The last book, City of Glass, rounded off a trilogy and could have been the end, but Clare (and her publishers and $$$) decided to keep it going. I’m not complaining, though. This book was better than I expected it to be, and sets up the next trilogy-within-a-series to be pretty good.
I was annoyed in the beginning and middle of the book by Clary and Jace’s inability to communicate. I have no patience for people who pointlessly refuse to talk to someone they’re supposed to love, in real life or fiction, and I’ve said it before. Maybe they should get a pass because they’re so young, but it’s such an easily solved problem that it’s kind of boring and frustrating to read about. It seems a pattern with this series (or just its hero, Jace) that the first half of the book is annoying, but the second half makes up for it.
I was more impressed with the ending than I thought I’d be. I said before that I think Clare has improved as a writer since her first book, and it shows here. The villain revealed here is quite formidable, connected to previous conflicts, but revealing new information about the background and taking the gruesomeness to a whole new level.
And the climactic love moment here is probably the best thing I’ve read from Clare yet. One perfect moment of understanding and connection between these characters before the destruction that will be wreaked on them in the next book. It allowed me to see in a more clear way than usual the appeal of romances like these. Since Clary’s point of view is primary, the scene functions as a moment of wish fulfillment for the mostly-female audience. The secret touch is that Clare knows so well what her audience fantasizes about: they (we) want to be saviors. Clary got to be the person we all want to be in our relationships, so perfectly loving and accepting, sparking change and self-acceptance in someone who’s basically good but troubled. Clary comforts the bad boy Jace, washing away his shame in her compassion. She startles herself with her wisdom and feminine strength. She gets to be a saint and say saintly things without being a martyr, without even being chaste. It’s a powerful fantasy because it’s not about being passive or objectified, but about being an agent of positive change in the life of a loved one. It’s what we all want, and it’s one of the only forms of power usually allowed to women.