Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Books: October 2013

image via Google Books
So this month, I started The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.  I was really excited to read it because Cassandra Clare, unlike E. L. James, is the poster child for why fanfiction is such a wonderful, powerful thing.  Back-in-the-day, writing under the name (I believe) Cassandra Claire, she wrote novel-length Harry Potter fanfiction which was very popular in various corners of the internet because it was so very, very well written.  She used fanfiction properly- as a tool to hone her writing skills.  When you already have an established universe to play in, and you don't have to invent characters or settings or back-stories, a fanfiction writer is free to experiment, receive constructive criticism, and collaborate with a large community of writers and beta readers (the fanfiction world's editors).  Fanfic is like one big creative writing exercise: can you mimic this author's style, thereby learning the elements of style?  Can you write about this pre-existing characters without going OOC (out of character), thereby learning how to write consistently?  Can you develop new and interesting characters and story lines that fit within this established universe, thereby learning how to attract and entertain new readers?  Cassandra Claire practiced writing, became a good writer, and earned herself an internet following by playing in the fanfic world- then she branched out and started publishing original fiction which has done incredibly well- City of Bones was just released as a movie!  E. L. James, on the other hand, is the poster child for what fanfiction writers should not do- she wrote a popular Twilight fanfic, changed the names, and published it as "original" fiction.  That's unethical at best, and it's the kind of behavior that makes fanfic readers and writers nervous, because it threatens to bring the law crashing down on our heads- fanfiction exists in a legal grey zone as it is, but profiting off of what is essentially somebody else's work?  Unethical and lazy, if you ask me. 

But anyway.

City of Bones is a very intriguing read- I was eager to finish it, just to see what happens, and am eager to pick up the next in the series.  It did, however, get off to a rather rocky start, for me, anyway.  While the action launches almost immediately, as the premise unfolds, it feels a bit...cheesy.  Teenage demon hunters?  It took a little pushing to get into it, but once I did, I was glad I stuck with it, because this world is definitely well-written, action-packed, and full of interesting characters.  Again, perhaps I'm getting too old for YA literature, but the love triangle- because every YA novel apparently has to have one- was a bit tiresome for me, and seemed to distract from the overall plot, but, as in real life, love is the driving force behind most of the characters' actions, so I guess you can consider it necessary.  The major love triangle is brought to a messy end through a rather confusing end to the book, which I won't spoil here, except to say that the back-story to this series involves several cases of severely mistaken identity.  I'd like to hope that the dissolution of the love triangle is Cassie Clare's way of stabbing that trope in the heart, so to speak, to prove that it's not necessary for the existence of entertaining YA literature, but maybe that's giving her too much credit?  Either way, I'm excited to follow Clary, the novel's protagonist, through the rest of her adventures in the world of the Shadowhunters, protecting us "mundane" humans from the evils prowling all around us that we can't even see.

Have you read any of The Mortal Instruments?  Did you enjoy it?  What did you read this month?

Much love,
The Geeks

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