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The Mortal Instruments: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

City of Lost Souls   The Mortal Instruments: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

 

City of Lost Souls is the fifth book in the six book Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. The sextet is actually comprised of two trilogies, the first consisting of City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass; and the second trilogy comprising of City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls, and City of Heavenly Fire, which comes out May 26th

There is also a spin off trilogy called The Infernal Devices, consisting of The Clockwork Angel, The Clockwork Prince, and The Clockwork Princess, which came out last year. There are also two more upcoming spin off trilogies: The Dark Artifices, consisting of Lady Midnight (which comes out in 2015), The Prince of Shadows, and The Queen of Air and Darkness, and, finally, The Last Hours series, which will come out sometime in the future.

There are also three companion books: one of which is a companion guide to the Shadowhunter world: The Shadowhunter Codex, which came out in 2013. There is also Shadowhunters and Downworlders: A Mortal Instruments Guide, which contains essays written by several other prominent YA authors, including Holly Black (one of the writers of the The Spiderwick Chronicles and the author the Modern Tales of Faerie series, which has been featured on this blog), Rachel Caine (author of The Morgansville Vampires series), and Kami Garcia (author of the Beautiful Creatures series).

Finally, there is a series of short stories available on ebook called The Bane Chronicles. This series stars one of the most popular character in the series, Magnus Bane. A printed collection of the stories will hit be available this November.

 

City of Fallen Angels ended with the return of Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern (or Sebastian), Clary’s actual brother and Valentine’s actual son. Because City of Glass told us that Jace and Clary weren’t related. Thank God.

So Lilith, Adam’s first wife and Mother of All Demons, decided that since Clary used her angel wish granted to her to bring Jace back to life, she could use demon magic shenanigans to bring Sebastian back to life, which involved possessing Jace and some good, old-fashioned blood drinking.

Simon Lewis, Clary’s best friend, was able to stop Lilith by using the Mark of Cain, so they thought they had won this round. However, City of Fallen Angels ended with Jace completing the resurrection spell on Sebastian, and City of Lost Souls begins with the search for the two of them.

Unfortunately, it has become clear to Clary and friends that making sure Jace is alive is no longer a priority to the Clave. So, Clary, along with Simon, Jace’s adopted brother and sister, Alec and Isabelle, Alec’s warlock boyfriend, and their werewolf friends, Jordan and Maia, decide that they are going to take matters into their own hands and try and rescue Jace themselves.

And thus, shenanigans ensue.

 

I really think that this is my favorite book in the series so far. I really like shenanigans in a book, and so far, this book has had the most shenanigans. Werewolf shenanigans, demon shenanigans, vampire shenanigans, it was great. It was definitely the most fun book out of the series so far.

That being said, there were moments that were very tense, particularly the scenes between Clary, Jace, and Sebastian. That storyline, for the most part was vaguely uncomfortable, which I can’t fully explain because of spoilers, just be warned that there is definitely a negative vibe in that particular storyline.

Also there are some serious relationship driven elements in this book that are leading up to what has been promised to be an explosive finale to the series. Frankly, I am excited for City of Heavenly Fire. This is one of my favorite series, and there is always some excitement when a series is going to end (for good this time, Clare originally intended for City of Glass to be the final book in the series).

 

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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The Mortal Instruments: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Image    The Mortal Instruments: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

 

City of Fallen Angels is the fourth book in the six book Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. The sextet is actually comprised of two trilogies, the first consisting of City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass; and the second trilogy comprising of City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls, and City of Heavenly Fire, which comes out this May.

There is also a spin off trilogy called The Infernal Devices, consisting of The Clockwork Angel, The Clockwork Prince, and The Clockwork Princess, which came out last year. There are also two more upcoming spin off trilogies: The Dark Artifices, consisting of Lady Midnight (which comes out in 2015), The Prince of Shadows, and The Queen of Air and Darkness, and, finally, The Last Hours series.

There are also three companion books: one of which is a companion guide to the Shadowhunter world: The Shadowhunter Codex, which came out in 2013. There is also Shadowhunters and Downworlders: A Mortal Instruments Guide, which contains essays written by several other prominent YA authors, including Holly Black (one of the writers of the The Spiderwick Chronicles and the author the Modern Tales of Faerie series, which has been featured on this blog), Rachel Caine (author of The Morgansville Vampires series), and Kami Garcia (author of the Beautiful Creatures series).

Finally, there is a series of short stories available on ebook called The Bane Chronicles. This series stars one of the most popular character in the series, Magnus Bane. A printed collection of the stories will hit be available this November.

 

Originally, The Mortal Instruments was going to only be the first three books, and City of Fallen Angels was going to be a standalone book about Simon Lewis, a vampire with the power to walk in daylight and the best friend of the main protagonist, Clary Fray. Eventually, Clare realized that there was a another story to be had, and extended the series.

 

In this book, Simon Lewis is doing his best to live his life normally, despite being a walking corpse that feeds on the blood of the living. He told his friends, he’s keeping it from his mom, and for the most part, everything seems ok.

However, between the fact that he’s a Daylighter (a vampire who can walk around in the sunlight) and that he has the Mark of Cain written on his forehead, there are powers in the world that want him on their side. Including, Camille Belacourt, a very old and powerful vampire that wants Simon on her side so she can take back her clan.

Meanwhile, Jace has started acting really weird. Granted, he’s a kind of odd guy already, but he’s acting weirder than normal, and Clary is getting really concerned. He’s been avoiding her, having nightmares, and just generally acting nervous and skittish, all things that are very uncharacteristic of him.

On top of that, there have been murders of Shadowhunters, and instances of infants being injected with demon blood. For the most part, it’s a pretty bad time to be part of the Shadowhunter world.

 

I really like the direction the series is going now. A few minor characters, some of which are only mentioned in the first series, have come to the forefront in a really good way. You can really tell that Clare has gotten better and more developed in her writing, though some of the scenes between Clary and Jace can get very flowery. Clare’s strong point is developing characters, which shows up pretty well in this book. I really recommend it, and I think you might be able to pick up here if you haven’t read the first three books, though I do recommend reading them first, if nothing else than to catch up on the world building.

 

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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The Mortal Instruments Book 3: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

City_of_glass    The Mortal Instruments Book 3: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

City of Glass is the third book in the six book Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. The sextet is actually comprised of two trilogies, the first consisting of City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass; and the second trilogy comprising of City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls, and City of Heavenly Fire, which comes out this May.

There is also a spin off trilogy called The Infernal Devices, consisting of The Clockwork Angel, The Clockwork Prince, and The Clockwork Princess, which came out earlier this year. There are also two more upcoming spin off trilogies: The Dark Artifices, consisting of Lady Midnight (which comes out in 2015), The Prince of Shadows, and The Queen of Air and Darkness, and, finally, The Last Hours series.

My original plan was to try to review both of the Mortal Instruments trilogies and the Infernal Devices trilogy before the City of Heavenly Fire comes out, but due to scheduling conflicts and finals coming so very, terribly fast, it does not appear that that is going to happen. Instead, I’ll just write about City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls right beforehand, and write on the Infernal Devices afterwards.

There are also three companion books: one of which is a companion guide to the Shadowhunter world: The Shadowhunter Codex, which came out in 2013. There is also Shadowhunters and Downworlders: A Mortal Instruments Guide, which contains essays written by several other prominent YA authors, including Holly Black (one of the writers of the The Spiderwick Chronicles and the author the Modern Tales of Faerie series, which has been featured on this blog), Rachel Caine (author of The Morgansville Vampires series), and Kami Garcia (author of the Beautiful Creatures series).

Finally, there is a series of short stories available on ebook called The Bane Chronicles. This series stars one of the most popular character in the series, Magnus Bane. A printed collection of the stories will hit be available this November.

 

City of Ashes ended with Valentine Morganstern, the big bad guy of the book, gaining control of the second mortal instrument, the Mortal Sword. Between that and the Mortal Cup he stole in the first book, he’s pretty much prepared to take over the Shadowhunter Clave and eradicate anyone he deems inferior to his kind, i.e. everyone not purely Shadowhunter.

In addition, his daughter, Clary, the main protagonist, has been approached by a woman named Madeline, who claims to know how to wake her mother up from her coma. The only thing is, they have to get to Alicante, the main Shadowhunter city, to perform the spell. Clary, along with Jace Wayland, her supposed brother, and his adopted family, the Lightwoods, are supposed to leave that evening.

Except Jace, in an attempt to keep Clary out of danger, lied to her about the departure time and right before they left, tried to make her best friend and vampire, Simon, a part of the lie to protect her.   Unfortunately, the demons attacked the group right before they left, thus killing Madeline and forcing Simon to escape to Alicante.

Only problem is, Downworlders (vampires, werewolves, faeries, and warlocks) are not allowed in Alicante, which means trouble for Simon. It also doesn’t take Clary much time to realize what has happened and to force herself into the action any way possible. When Jace rejects her, she turns to trust another Shadowhunter she meets, named Sebastian Verlac, as she tries to save her mother and keep her father from using the demons to take over their world.

The first time I read this, I was worried over how it would tie together, but I think it did nicely. As with City of Ashes, I spent most of the book more interested in side plots, but the main plot eventually became interesting enough that it got most of my attention in the end. All in all, it was a good end to the series.

Which is kind of funny, considering there ended up being more installments, but it was a nice end to this part of the series. I think Clare’s main strength is her growth and development of characters, while sometimes her writing style and pacing can get a little…. flowery. Then again, one might not consider that a bad thing.

I consider this a good brain candy read, it’s not too complicated, but the story is interesting enough for a good break during the day. (Which was great for me, considering I am also reading House of Leaves and John Dies at the End, both of which require a good bit of concentration and brain power.) This is one my favorite guilty pleasures, and I do recommend it for someone who wants to try a take on the ever popular genre that is YA Paranormal Romance.

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The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Image  The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

City of Ashes is the second book in the six book Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. The sextet is actually comprised of two trilogies, the first consisting of City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass; and the second trilogy comprising of City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls, and City of Heavenly Fire, which comes out this May.

There is also a spin off trilogy called The Infernal Devices, consisting of The Clockwork Angel, The Clockwork Prince, and The Clockwork Princess, which came out earlier this year. There are also two more upcoming spin off trilogies: The Dark Artifices, consisting of Lady Midnight (which comes out in 2015), The Prince of Shadows, and The Queen of Air and Darkness, and, finally, The Last Hours series.

There are also three companion books: one of which is a companion guide to the Shadowhunter world: The Shadowhunter Codex, which came out in 2013. There is also Shadowhunters and Downworlders: A Mortal Instruments Guide, which contains essays written by several other prominent YA authors, including Holly Black (one of the writers of the The Spiderwick Chronicles and the author the Modern Tales of Faerie series, which has been featured on this blog), Rachel Caine (author of The Morgansville Vampires series), and Kami Garcia (author of the Beautiful Creatures series).

Finally, there is a series of short stories available on ebook called The Bane Chronicles. This series stars one of the most popular character in the series, Magnus Bane. A printed collection of the stories will hit be available this November.

 

City of Bones ended with one of the weirdest plot twists I have ever read in YA fiction. If you haven’t read City of Bones (and I feel like you shouldn’t read a review of City of Ashes if you haven’t) please stop now because we are entering spoiler city.

At the end of the last book we learned that Jace and Clary, (the two main characters of the first book, and who seemed like the main romantic couple) are brother and sister. This was one of those I-need-to-put-the-book-down-and-walk-around-for-a-while-twists. Apparently, it actually turned a lot of people off the series, and it’s one of the reasons I consider The Mortal Instruments a guilty pleasure instead of a book I just really like.

But I digress: apparently Valentine Morgenstern, the big bad of the series, is assembling the three Mortal Instruments (title drop!), which are weapons he can use against the Shadowhunters (the demon hunter society Jace and friends are a part of). So far, he has the Mortal Cup, which allows him to have some control over demons.

This book begins with the mysterious killings of some Downworlder (non-human) children. Unfortunately, the blame gets pointed on Jace, as a higher up has decided that Jace is Valentine’s secret spy sent to bring down the Clave. So now, not only do our heroes need to figure out what Valentine is up to, they need to prove that Jace isn’t a spy for his crazy father.

 

I think the best part of book is the blink and you miss it moments between Alec Lightwood, a Shadowhunter struggling with his sexuality, and Magnus Bane, the Warlock who originally erased Clary’s memories in an attempt to shield her from the outside world. Their relationship was pretty much in the background, and was only mentioned a few times, but it’s a really interesting side plot that was refreshing to get back to after long periods of talking about the whole incest thing. It was also the main reason I kept reading the series back when it was new to me.

City of Ashes brought a bunch of new interesting elements and characters to the story, such Maia, a kind werewolf girl, and the idea that the parents of the main characters were part of this scary rebellion group that approved of the genocide of many people. The scenes between the adults and the teenagers are really interesting, as you can tell that their time with Valentine seriously affected their lives, and they clearly have regrets for what they did in the past. Which is probably for the best since otherwise our main characters would have been raised by the fantasy version of Neo-Nazis.

That being said, the incest thing can be uncomfortable at times. Most of the time, really. When I was reading it, there were times when I was just going to roll with it, and times when it just kind of weirded me out and I had to put the book down. Please keep in mind that if you decide to read this book, it is a major part of the story.

 

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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The Mortal Instruments: Book 1: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

 

City of BonesThe Mortal Instruments: Book 1: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
City of Bones is the first book in the six book Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. This is also the first published work by Cassandra Clare. There were originally supposed to be three books, City of Ashes and City of Glass in this series, however, Clare has written a second trilogy, City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls, with the final book, City of Heavenly Fire, which comes out in 2014.
There is also a spin off trilogy called The Infernal Devices, consisting of The Clockwork Angel, The Clockwork Prince, and The Clockwork Princess, which came out earlier this year. There are also two more upcoming spin off trilogies: The Dark Artifices, consisting of Lady Midnight (which comes out in 2015), The Prince of Shadows, and The Queen of Air and Darkness, and a yet unnamed series which I assume will come out after The Dark Artifices.
There are also three companion books: one of which is a companion guide to the Shadowhunter world: The Shadowhunter Codex, which came out in 2013. There is also Shadowhunters and Downworlders: A Mortal Instruments Guide, which contains essays written by several other prominent YA authors, including Holly Black (one of the writers of the The Spiderwick Chronicles and the author the Modern Tales of Faerie series, which has been featured on this blog), Rachel Caine (author of The Morgansville Vampires series), and Kami Garcia (author of the Beautiful Creatures series).
Finally, there is a series of short stories available on ebook called The Bane Chronicles, which was originally a set of ebook short stories, and will be put together into a printed collection that comes out this November. This series stars one of the most popular character in the series, Magnus Bane.
Ok wow, there’s a whole lot of books in this series. Let’s talk about the actual book.

City of Bones starts off with the main character, Clary Fray, a fifteen year old artist who lives with her single mother in New York city, and her best friend Simon Lewis going into 16 and up club. While she is there she sees three teenagers dressed all in black with weird tattoos follow lure another teen to the back of the club.
Suspicious, Clary follows them, just in time to see them murder the teen- except when they do, the body dissapears in a puff of smoke. The teenagers (Jace Wayland, Alec Lightwood, and his sister, Isabelle Lightwood) Also, when she tries to call security, she finds that she is the only one who can see them.
Simon and Clary leave, with Clary hoping to forget about what happened. However, when her mother is kidnapped by a demon, she is forced into the world of the Shadowhunters- a world filled with mystery and danger.

I’m going to be honest here- this is one of my favorite books. It can be a little cheesy at times, but it makes up for it with really compelling characters and imaginative world.
That being said, there is a really big secret twist at the end of this book. So far I’ve noticed that there are typically two reactions to it: either one runs out to get the next one, or they just kind of go “well… ok then” and don’t continue the series.
That being said, I really recommend this book for anyone who wants something a little different from the usual teen supernatural fare.
There is also a movie adaptation based on City of Bones that came out last August. It was… not very good, and I don’t think there will be any more adaptations of the series in the upcoming future.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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Web comic Showcase: Homestuck, written and drawn by Andrew Hussie

homestuck

Web comic Showcase: Homestuck, written and drawn by Andrew Hussie

A good comic book can be a very enjoyable experience, as they uniquely combine literature with a visual medium.  Between superhero comics and newspaper funnies, people having been enjoying comics for centuries.

With the advent of the internet, comic writers have found a new way to host their creations.  And thus, the era of web comics is upon us.

Since literally anyone can post a web comic on the various free hosting sites online, yes, there are some… not so good representations of the medium out there. There are some real gems out there… but they can be very hard to find. That’s why I am starting this series, Web comic Showcase, to share some of my personal favorites, beginning with one that really takes advantage of the online medium: Homestuck.

First of all, it should be said that Homestuck is one of those things that people really love or they really hate (or they get bored and quit way too soon. We’ll get to that).  And truthfully, it is a very odd story, with odd characters, an odd writing style, and a very odd art style.  I can totally understand why there are people who do not like it.

That being said, there are elements to this series that are truly unique and fantastic, which is why I am a huge fan of it. Unfortunately, due to the oddness of it, Homestuck can be  very hard to describe. But hey, I’m going to give it my best shot.

Homestuck is about four friends, (from right to left) John Egbert, a goofy and sometimes simple prankster, Rose Lalonde, a sly and ridiculously smart horror addict, Dave Strider, a kid whose  main passions are his music and his ironic persona, and Jade Harley, a cute and ditzy girl who loves her dog.

homestuck-beta-kids-correct

From left to right, John, Rose, Dave, and Jade.

A new and super cool video game has premiered, and the kids are ready to play it. But when John loads the game, things get really weird really fast.

The game starts affecting reality and the kids are sent off to an entirely new set of planets to fight their way to victory.  They also meet other players of the game, the grey skinned and horned alien race called the Trolls, the Trolls deceased ancestors, and teenage versions of the kids guardians.  Worse, every time they think they’ve can finally beat the big bad guy, a bigger, even worse villain shows up.  It is filled with twists and turns, moral arguments, and a whole lot of adventure.

The story can be slow at times, and often a little silly, but I believe the good qualities greatly outweigh any negatives. That being said, the biggest flaw this has is the very slow beginning. The author uses the first act of the comic to introduce the main character, John Egbert, his life at home and his relationship with his online friends.  Which is fine thing to do, but Act One is mostly John checking the mail to see if the game has arrived, chatting with someone online, avoiding his dad, checking online again, etc. Not much actually happens, and because of that, many people quit before the story really starts. And to be honest, I was one of those people.

A few months later, I kept seeing people talking about Homestuck on tumblr, and I thought that surely it gets good at some point. So I went back and made sure to stick it out this time, and I do not regret it at all.

One last thing: Homestuck is in its final stretch of content, and Hussie has decided that he was going to post the rest of the content all at once, so any day now, it could be done.

Now that I think about it, I’m queuing this ahead of time, so it really could finish before this posts. That would be weird.

Yeah, that probably won’t happen. Anyway, Homestuck is great, simply fantastic, one of my favorite web comics of all time. It really took advantage of the medium, adding animation, music, and even allowed the reader to take control of the characters at times to drive the story forward. It really is a lot of fun and I recommend checking it out.

There are printed versions of the comic, but I recommend reading it online first to get the whole experience.

Homestuck is written by Andrew Hussie and drawn on MS Paint.  It can be found here: http://www.mspaintadventures.com/

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The Demonata: Hell’s Heroes by Darren Shan

Hell's Heroes    The Demonata: Hell’s Heroes by Darren Shan

Hell’s Heroes is the tenth and final book in the ten book series The Demonata, his second major Young Adult horror series, after the Cirque du Freak series (also called The Saga of Darren Shan, for anyone outside of the U.S.).

 

There’s always a whole lot riding on the end of a series, particularly ones that are considered long, like The Demonata.  When someone spends a bunch of time and money invested in a story and characters, they want the last time they encounter them to be memorable, right? Sometimes they can fall flat, like the ending of The Pendragon series, and sometimes they can be spectacular, like The Infernal Devices series. However, they often times just kind of end up in the middle, much like the ending to the Harry Potter series (which some thought was a nice ending, but others found to be a little too fast and a little too flat).

I felt like I had more expectations with this book than I normally do going  into a final book in a series, because this series was introducing some really big themes in the last couple books, such as how far should you go to help people before it becomes too big a sacrifice, and just how far should one go before it becomes a pointless effort.

 

The series centers around three teenagers: Grubbs Grady, a magician who has voluntarily fallen under the family curse of lycanthropy, Kernal Fleck, who has the mysterious power to see magical lights (the remnants of the universe that existed before The Big Bang) and can put the pieces together to create windows into the demonic universe, and Bec McConn (I apparently forgot to write her name in the past few posts), a priestess who sacrificed herself to save the human race the first time the demons tried to cross over to her world.  They are all part of a ancient weapon called the Kah-Gash, which is the conscious leftover of the universe before The Big Bang. They originally thought that this weapon could destroy the demon universe, but it was revealed in Dark Calling that it can actually put the universe back to how it was before The Big Bang, which would keep the demons in their separate universe, unable to harm any other creature.

Unless the demons achieve their goal, which would put the original universe back in place, but would allow the demons to become all powerful and destroy the other creatures. It is up to Grubbs, Bec, and Kernal to band together to save what is left of life in this universe and activate the Kah-Gash, thus putting the universe into a state of peace.

The problem is that Grubbs has decided that Earth is the only planet that needs saving and refuses to work with the Ancient Ones, and has blinded Kernal and forced him to help him, while Bec seems to have stopped caring about the human race entirely. Time is running out, and the demons are becoming more powerful by the day. The only chance of survival comes from Grubbs and Kernal convincing Bec to rejoin them, but first they must fight their way through mountains of demons to the center of Lord Loss’s kingdom.

 

I talked earlier about the importance of the final book in the series, and I feel that Hell’s Heroes ended on a very good (and surprisingly positive) note. I feel like it properly tied together all the threads of the series, while providing a good ending to the main characters. And I’m going to be honest, I was getting worried for a bit. There just didn’t seem to be a happy way for this series to end.

 

Rating: 8 out of 10.

 

About Darren Shan’s writing as a whole: I bought the Cirque du Freak series and The Demonata series at the same time, because I thought The Demonata series sounded super interesting, but I had also heard good things about the Cirque du Freak series.  I decided to read Cirque du Freak first because Shan wrote that series first.

That may have not been my best idea.  Cirque du Freak was a really… simple.  I did an in depth review of that entire series last year, so I don’t want to go into it too much, but I had problems with it as a whole.

Though I could see some of the same problems in the first couple of books in The Demonata, the series as a whole seemed better and more thought out. I don’t know if it’s because the different characters narrating the story or if it comes from a more experienced author, but I consider The Demonata miles better than Cirque du Freak.

Of course, that’s my personal opinion. There are many who love Cirque du Freak, and there are good things that come from the series.  There was a snippet from the next book Darren Shan wrote after The Demonata ended, called The Thin Executioner, which has gotten good reviews.

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The Demonata: Dark Calling by Darren Shan

The Demonata   The Demonata: Dark Calling by Darren Shan

 

Dark Calling is the ninth book in the ten book The Demonata series by Darren Shan. Darren Shan is also the author of the Cirque du Freak series (alternatively titled The Saga of Darren Shan for anyone outside of the U.S.), along with some adult horror books. This is his second long running series for teens. He has also written some other horror themed books, including a prequel series for Cirque du Freak called The Saga of Larten Crepsley, and a stand-alone novel based on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, called The Thin Executioner.

 

The Demonata series has three protagonists, Grubbs Grady, who narrates Lord Loss, Slawter, Blood Beast, Demon Apocalypse, and Wolf Island, the first, third, fifth, sixth, and eighth book in the series, a teen magician also struggling with lycanthropy, Kernel Fleck, who narrates Demon Thief and Dark Calling, the second and ninth books in the series, and has the talent to see mysterious lights that can be put together to make windows to the demon universe, and Bec, who narrates Bec and Death’s Shadow, the fourth and seventh book in the series.  The three of them posses a piece of the mysterious weapon called the Kah-Gash, which they can use to destroy the demon universe.

Well, actually, it’s a little more complicated than that.  Dark Calling is all about the Kah-Gash, and what exactly it’s function in the universe is. Dark Calling picks up about a quarter through Wolf Island.  One of the Ancient Ones, a group of beings older than Earth that have given humans the ability to fight back against the demons, kidnaps Kernel and takes him to an alternate planet to tell him the history of the Ancient Ones and their war against the demons, along with his place in the fight.  They say that everything is coming to a climax, and that the fate of the universe falls into the hands of Kernal, Grubbs, and Bec.

Kernel becomes faced with a choice: does he go through with the Ancient Ones plan? Or does he return home and try to stop his planet from being taken over by demons?

 

An interesting thing about this book is that the first third of it is mostly talking, which feels a little odd in the otherwise action packed series. Not to say it wasn’t interesting, I thought the story of the Ancient Ones was one of the coolest parts of the entire series.  The thing about this book is that it raised the stakes really high for the end of the last book, Hell’s Heroes.  Hopefully, it won’t disappoint.

 

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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100 Banned Books Series: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest   100 Banned Books Series: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

 

What is it about?

A classic from the 1960s, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey is a novel set in a mental institution run by the infamously strict Nurse Ratched and her loyal staff, as they hold control over the patients there, all of which suffer from some sort of mental illness. The book focuses on two patients in particular: Chief Bromden, the narrator of the story, who is huge, but very timid, Native American man who has convinced the staff that he is deaf, and therefore not worth noticing.  The other is the hero of the story: Randle “Red” McMurphey, a man committed for statutory rape, and dedicates his time at the asylum to helping the other patients against the tyrannical Nurse Ratched.

The novel mostly tells of the war between McMurphey and Nurse Ratched, and the consequences that come from it. At first, it simply  comes from McMurphey’s reluctance to adhere to Nurse Ratched’s rules, though eventually, he gets several of the other patients on his side. Throughout the novel, McMurphey learns more about the power system in play, and what exactly can drive a man crazy.

 

Why is it controversial?

The main reason for this book’s controversy comes from the fact that it’s use of course language and unsavory themes that many parents would rather not have their teenage children reading about.  Also, there is much talk of sex, since a major theme of the book is how sexual repression can damage a person, using Billy Bibbit (whose overbearing mother kept from reaching sexual and emotional maturity) as the main example. There is also some crude language, including derogatory terms for people of color.

 

My thoughts?

The thing I find most interesting about this book is that there doesn’t seem to be a true good guy in it. Though, McMurphey does do things that helps the other patients, it’s implied that he’s only really doing it to help himself, and that he is a narcissist.  We never really find out whether or not this is true.

Also, though I wouldn’t call Chief Bromden an unreliable narrator in the traditional sense, one should note that, because of his mental illness, he does not see the world the way regular people do, and because of that, it is up to the reader to interpret what is really going on.

While I do think that this is a very good and important work, I feel the need to point out that this book is at times very misogynistic. The main theme of the story is what makes a man go insane, and apparently a woman being in power is one of them.

Granted, Nurse Ratched is a terrible human being, but still, there are many instances where male characters treat female characters as sex objects and attempt to use sex as a way to overpower them. Hell, the reason Red is in the asylum at all is on a statutory rape charge.

That being said, it is an important read.  Like many of the other books in this series, there’s a reason this book is considered a classic. It’s a great read, has compelling characters, and really helps with getting into the mind of the mentally ill.

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The Demonata: Wolf’s Island by Darren Shan

Wolf's Island    The Demonata: Wolf’s Island by Darren Shan

Wolf’s Island is the eight book in the ten book long series The Demonata series by Darren Shan, who also wrote the Cirque du Freak series.  This is the second major book series he has written, also about the supernatural, but while the Cirque du Freak was about vampires, The Demonata is about demons and werewolves.

Also, the first half of the series has been told in a non-linear format, with the first four books told by three different protagonists (Grubbs Grady, Kernel Fleck, and Bec) from different time periods that are all part of the same mystical weapon called the Kah-Gash, which can be used to destroy the entire demon universe.

Lord Loss, Slawter, Blood Beast, Demon Apocalypse and Wolf’s Island are all told from the point of view of Grubbs Grady, a teenager whose parents were killed by demons in an attempt to cure his sister of lycanthropy, a curse that has been affecting his family every since an unfortunate union with a demon thousands of years earlier, and has been affecting Grubbs himself since Blood Beast, the fifth book in the series.

Demon Thief, the second book of the series, was told by Kernal Fleck, a teenager who has the power to see magical lights that could open portals to the demonic universe and is currently in the service of the ancient magician, Beranabus, the reluctant leader of the mage group dedicated to fighting demons, The Disciples.

Bec and Death’s Shadow were told through the point of view of Bec, a young priestess from thousands of years in the past, and sacrificed herself to stop demons from passing through a tunnel. This tunnel was later opened by Grubb’s younger brother, the now deceased Bill-E, thousands of years later, which prompted her soul to take over Bill-E’s body and return to the modern world to once again stop the demons from destroying humanity.

 

Wolf’s Island ties in the story line of the Grady curse, which was a plot point that pretty much only revolved around Grubbs, which is why it makes sense that only his books deal with it (Though Bec did touch on it, as Bec is one of Grubbs ancestors, though she herself was unaffected by the curse). I really did like how this book tied the Lambs and lycanthropy plot points very well, despite the fact that they seemed to have nothing to do with the main plot.

 

This also begins kind of in the middle of Death’s Shadow, which was told in the point of view of Bec, who was attacked by werewolves at the beginning of her book. Bec, along with Grubbs’s uncle, Dervish Grady, and Meera Flame, a family friend meet up with Grubbs, Kernal, and Beranabus, who were off trying to figure out what the uniquely terrifying monster at the end of Demon Apocalypse was. Once Grubbs finds out that someone is using werewolves as attack dogs, he, along with Meera and another Disciple, Shark, decides to leave the group to figure out what was going on.

This leads them to the main complex run by the Lambs, a group of family members that are affected by the Grady curse and try to use science instead of magic to cure it (which in all honesty has done less to cure the werewolves than magic has, but still, it’s a valiant effort). They are also used as executioners for family members whose children have turned.

When they get to the compound, Grubbs and his team find out that the Lambs haven’t quite been honest with what they were doing with the werewolves, and learns that the leader of the Lambs has become involved with demons. While trying to stop him and save members of his family from a horrible fate, Grubbs himself changes to what he was meant to be all along, and learns more about his fate and how it ties into the world around him.

 

This, as did Death’s Shadow, felt like another middle of the series book, though this one had more of an identity than the last one did.  It felt very much like an action adventure, since a good majority of the book was breaking into the Lambs complex and figuring out the plot that went on there. All in all, it was a very enjoyable read.

 

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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