Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wicked Lovely Series Book Four: Radiant Shadows

Radiant Shadows (Wicked Lovely, #4)

Radiant Shadows , the fourth installment in Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series, has some very cool new facets (Steeds!), however it is what it is, which is a vehicle for any finishing touches, additional characters, and other set-up for the fifth book, which completes the series.

I'll admit I'm less invested in any WL storyline not primarily involving my personal favorite characters (Ash, Keenan, Donia, Seth, and Niall), and I'm sure that plays heavily with my 'meh' reaction to the book. I felt it was an unneccessary side-trip away from the "real" story, the brewing wars between the various fey courts. If the series weren't set up for each of its key players to have their own volumes, I'd have said Ani's story could have just about filled in two chapters of another book. However, I did see the need for Ani's love interest, Devlin, to have a book to himself, as he is the tie that binds the two strongest of the conflicting fey courts.
I enjoyed the handling of Ani's struggle to become her own person, even when she didn't fit anywhere, and even more Devlin's internal battles regarding his creators and his feelings for someone not precisely of his home realm. The book had the same dark, sparkling aftertaste of all Marr's novels, which I've always liked, and the new characters it adds to the mix for the upcoming book certainly create a whole new set of variables to the final outcome, so I look forward to that.

This is book is sitting right on the border between Buy and Borrow. If you already own the other series books, add this to your collection, but if the others have already come into and gone out of your life, follow suit and Borrow Radiant Shadows from a library or book buddy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel

As a big fan of Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments trilogy, I was thrilled to receive an Advance Reader Copy of Clockwork Angel, the first installment of Clare's upcoming Nephilim prequel series, The Infernal DevicesClockwork takes place around two centuries before TMI series, and deals with that series' predecessors.

I've always adored both Jace and Simon from TMI, loved their sarcasm, sharp insults, and intelligent humor, so it was a difficult for me to really dig into the extremely similar character template of Clockwork's Will (though in the fourth TMI novel, City of Fallen Angels, Clare has one character point out these similarities, so obviously the commonalities were at least somewhat intended).  Unfortunately, for me the ways Will resembles Jace made the book feel repetitive to me.

On the other hand, Clare leaves us dead in the middle of several questions at the end of Clockwork, and if Will's actions indicate anything, it's that he has more of a fighter's spirit than Jace; Jace tends to fill himself with snark to cover over what he sees as his inevitable fate. In short, for now Will reminds me too much of Jace, and Jace did it better, but there's a definite possibility Will could surprise the daylights out of me.

Tessa, the heroine of the series, struck me as a little bland. She was likable enough, but so little of her personality was allowed to show it's hard to really identify with her, and while she seems the focal point of the story, I almost felt as if she were a throwaway character, only there to act as an extra for the real plot-makers, Will and Jem. Let's hope she gets less apathetic about her own role in the following additions.

And speaking of Jem, um hi, LOVE (if you haven't seen it by now, Jem's on the cover of book two in this series, Clockwork Prince, and it might be my favorite cover/coverboy EVAR). Jem's calm, almost-zen-like handling of both his own problems and Will's brawling temper are completely endearing. Unfortunately, Clare likes to twist our hearts, so I wouldn't at all be surprised if she intends to make us fall for the pale, gallant boy just before she breaks us with something monstrous about him.

In general, Clockwork Angel didn't snag me as much as the books of the TMI series, but it's early days, and if there's one thing Cassandra Clare has mastered, it's messing with a reader's feelings, and that is a WONDERFUL kind of catharsis, and that alone is worth giving this new set of characters and conflicts a chance to wrench our guts.

Clockwork Angel gets a Buy rating, due to it's relationship to other Nephilim novels, and in the hopes of subsequent installments adding to its quality.