Saturday, April 16, 2011

City of Fallen Angels: Everything that is Wrong with YA Today!

City of Fallen Angels debuted at #1 on the New York Times Children’s Bestsellers list this week. This news is terribly disturbing to me on many levels, not least because this is a terrible book. But that is not the only reason I am focusing on this book. It is also because, quite simply, CoFA is the symbolic representation of several things that are wrong with the YA industry today, trends that have worried me deeply and which have now culminated in this supreme waste of paper and money.

#1: MILKING THE CASH COW DRY

Jillian wrote a brilliant piece a while ago on the sequel syndrome and the death of the stand-alone novel. It’s true that series have become the norm in YA publishing these days. In fact, I can’t think of a single YA paranormal that has released this year as a stand-alone. But CoFA has taken this to a new level.

I don’t know how many people remember that Eragon was originally supposed to be a trilogy. But the unexpected success of Books 1 & 2 spawned ambitious dreams in the minds of both author and publishers, and the series was extended and renamed The Inheritance Cycle. Worst. Mistake. Ever. The series, which may just have been readable in a 3-book format, had to suddenly be stretched to cover an additional book, with the result that the third book, Brisingr became a mish mash of slow moving plots that served no purpose other than to bore most readers to tears.

Now CoFA has taken this to a new low. The Mortal Instruments Trilogy, which was concluded, wrapped in a bow and boxed for all eternity in City of Glass, was suddenly revived when Clare and her publishers realised that the series could well continue to be a money maker. In the wake of talks about a film adaptation of the trilogy, it was announced that The Mortal Instruments Trilogy would now be extended to an additional three books.

Here is where things become dicey. Most readers were given the impression, initially at least, that the new trilogy would be a sort of spin-off of the original, focusing on the Daylighter Simon, and his struggles with his new life as a vampire bearing the Mark of Cain. This sounded good to most people, since it would have new protagonists and new plotlines. But no. Instead of following through on these hints, CoFA makes Simon a peripheral supporting actor to the big drama of Jace and Clary’s love lives. Which leads me to the second problem.

#2: FANGIRLS DON’T CARE ABOUT STORYLINES

The problem, I have found, with successful series, is that authors seem to think that as long as their favourite characters make an appearance, nothing needs to actually happen. There are series that have been extended way beyond the lives originally allotted to them, notably the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristen Cast, which is now weighing in at a whopping eight books, with another four in the works. Considering the plot bunnies went rabid at around Book 4, there is no excuse for the continued massacre of trees for the publication of this series. What do these books contribute to literary society, apart from slut-shaming themes and endless teenage angst about a variety of hot boys?

And now we come to the grandmomma of them all, City of Fallen Angels. This book has NO plot. I am not exaggerating here. There is, quite literally, no reason for the existence of this book, apart from pure greed. This is a classic example of fan exploitation. Toss in a few familiar characters, write enormously long descriptive passages about what each person is wearing, and how painful their love lives are, bring in a convenient villain towards the end when you have no choice BUT to set the hook for the next book, and send it off to the publishers. The author seems to be working on the assumption that as long as her name is on the cover, anything will sell. And the sad part? She’s being proven right.

#3: ONCE YOU’RE A SUCCESS, YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT QUALITY WRITING

Here’s the deal. I actually thought the original Mortal Instruments trilogy was entertaining, even if it wasn’t ground-breakingly original. The plot moved quickly, there was a certain amount of chemistry and tension between the characters, and it was a satisfying read for a rainy afternoon. CoFA, on the other hand, is a regression to fan fiction-quality writing. The editorial input in this book was nil, I’m assuming, because I find it hard to believe that any editor would allow her author to get away with sentences like "Of course, she also couldn’t believe he was also dating Maia Roberts [...]” and “Shadowhunter.” The creature on the left spoke in a hissing whisper. (Umm, Clare, you can’t hiss if there are no sibilant syllables. Writing 101.) “We did not know of you in this situation.”

The sheer number of similes in this book made me want to poke my eyes out. “She folded into his arms like delicate silk."; “Wind blowing leaves like handfuls of thrown confetti.” And my personal favourite: "Leaves rattled across the pavement like dry bones."

There are factual inconsistencies galore. A Coca Cola sign flashing “blood red and navy blue” (where is the blue in the Coca Cola logo, again?); a character who first has “black hair in longish curls”, which later magically transforms to "light brown" *facepalm*; a Shadowhunter who can’t recognise Sesame Street, or a bloody mango, but makes a pop culture reference to I’m with the Band.

There are $.99 self-published books available on Amazon that are written better than this. And provide more entertainment. There appears to be a certain sort of hubris prevalent in very successful YA authors today (Stephenie Meyer, I’m looking at you) that seems to imply that as long as your books are selling in the millions, there is no need to actually work on your art. Do I even need to explain why this is so very wrong?

#4: CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT = WANGST

There are just way, way, waay too many YA novels these days that seem to equate character development with endless internal monologues about tru wuvv. We’ve discussed this before, but here’s a quick snapshot. Look at most of the YA paranormal characters you have come across in the last few years. What do you remember best about them?
Bella Swan: Her undying love for the animated corpse who wants to kill her
Nora Grey: Her undying love for the psycho immortal who wants to kill her
Luce Price:  Her undying love for the overprotective asshole who wants to smother her personality
Schuyler  Van Allen: Her undying love for the cheating vampiric angel who’s betrothed to his sister
Clary Fray: Her undying love for her cocky, arrogant brother

Are you seeing the theme here?

Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. What do you remember best about Katniss Everdeen? Her courage? Her intelligence? How about Rhine Ellery? Her love for her brother and her overwhelming desire for freedom? And Sophie Mercer — her sparkling, sassy personality is what really stays in your mind.  So, you see, it’s not impossible to write characters with personality, and relationships with real chemistry and tension. Instant, undying love is just a get-out-of-jail-free card that lazy authors use to not have to deal with the trouble of endowing their heroines with a personality.

City of Fallen Angels is all about lazy characterization. Again, I find that Clare has regressed as a writer, instead of progressing. Her characters had the saving grace of being somewhat likeable and relatable in the first three books. In this book, you can’t stand any of them. There’s Jace, who seems to have lost his trademark cocky charm, drowning instead in a morass of angst about a silly nightmare and pushing Clary away time and again. There’s Clary, angsting endlessly about whether Jace is going to leave her. Then there’s Simon, poor Simon, caught in a love triangle between two girls, neither of whom seem to strike the slightest spark in him. There’s Alec, who returns three-quarters of the way into the story to immediately begin angsting about Magnus’s former love life. In short, this book would have been better named City of Endless Angst.

There is no life to any of these characters. You could pick them up and put them in the middle of Any YA Paranormal, and you wouldn’t be able to spot the difference.

#5: CHEATING YOUR WAY INTO A SERIES: THE CLIFFHANGER

There is nothing, NOTHING! that annoys me quite so much as a cliffhanger at the end of a truly terrible book. I am no fan of cliffhangers, but if the writing is truly exceptional, and the cliffhanger ending makes sense, I am willing to forgive it. But the serious overuse of the cliffhanger ending in YA books is testing my (admittedly limited) patience. So far this year, I have read Demonglass, Bumped, Queen of The Dead, Starcrossed, Blackveil, Catching Fire and Jealousy, ALL of which end in a cliffhanger. If I tear out any more of my hair, I will be facing severe baldness.

But City of Fallen Angels, once more, takes this to an extreme. The book drags on and on, with meaningless insertions and endless description, before suddenly realising in the last fifty pages that the reader needs some motivation to come back for the next helping of sludge. What to do, what to do? Put in a cliffhanger, of course!

And so, to set the hook for rapid sales of the next book, CoFA ends in the world’s stupidest, worst-thought out cliffhanger. I find it hard to imagine what purpose this “shocking” ending serves – after all, since CoFA was a random, meaningless collection of incidents with no overarching theme, Clare is going to have to rebuild the plot from the ground up for City of Lost Souls. Maybe she’ll do it, and do it well, but you can be sure I’m not going to be waiting for that miracle with bated breath.

#6: “I DON’T BELIEVE IN ‘MESSAGES’”

I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I believe strongly in the power of subliminal messaging in YA books. Whether you believe in messages or not, the fact remains that as an author, you have a responsibility towards your readers to make sure you aren’t sending the wrong signals.

I’ve never liked the use of the Shadowhunter term, ‘mundane’. The Oxford dictionary defines mundane as “lacking interest or excitement; dull”. The Shadowhunters’ use of this word is contemptuous and derogatory. In short, racist.  They are conveying the message that people without power are beneath them, and that this is decided by birth, rather than merit. You, and I, are mundane – people to be looked down upon because we aren’t born with the advantages of power.

There is a singular lack of humanity in the characters from the Mortal Instruments. For example, in the opening scene of CoFA, Isabelle describes to Simon the way in which human are made into vamp subjugates. Instead of feeling horrified by their de-humanized condition, Simon uses it as an excuse to make a quip.

Similarly, there is a scene at a bridal shop where Luke explains to Jace that white is the color of weddings for mundanes. Now I’m assuming that mundane is a universal term for everybody without magic, including the Japanese and the Indians, for whom white is NOT the colour of weddings, but of mourning. Way to be multicultural and inclusive, Clare.

This may seem like I’m nitpicking, but in fact, it is symbolic of a larger problem with YA fiction, the assumption that everybody is set in what Ceilidh calls the default mode. For the majority of Western civilization, white is the color of weddings; ergo, it must be so for the rest of the world. There is a term for this, and it’s called cultural imperialism.

So in the end, City of Fallen Angels is not just a terrible book. It is a terrible, exploitative book with a host of uncomplimentary underlying messages. It is not the only offender, as I have demonstrated, but the overwhelming success of this book, coupled with the sheer number of disturbing trends it exemplifies, makes it stand out. It is the symbol of all that is wrong with the YA industry today – the greed, the lack of quality, the assumption that readers are cattle who will accept whatever is fed to them. So maybe, instead of enabling this consumerist frenzy, it is time we took a stand and said, ‘we want better books’?

 [Please note: The views expressed in this post are mine alone, and not representative of the opinions of my co-bloggers. In addition, this is not a vendetta against anybody, it is merely an expression of my concerns and opinions regarding the YA industry.]


43 comments:

  1. I'll say it: My single biggest problem with this author is that she is a known plagiarist who never should have been given a publishing contract.

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  2. Excellent assessment, Vinaya. Also: depressing.

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  3. Alas this confirms what I have been feeling for the past few days. I have just finished City of Ashes after buying the books based on the glowing recommendations of many reviewers. I am really frustrated as I actually bought the books and now regret it immensely. And now your review of the 4th book only confirms my disappointment with the series. So far I have struggled to finish the books. i found them to be lacking in originality and constantly compared it to HP books and I mean Valentine...come on thats not even a scary name. Despite all the reviews I just cannot like this series, the similaritites to HP, a very passive and boring heroine, lack of actual tension or even an original plot (i.e. a villain that wants to maintain a pure society by getting rid of mudbloods, oops sorry I mean downworlders). I'm more disappointed with this series compared to other readers but I shall persevere and finish City of Glass...only because I have already bought it. Thanks for the review as it has helped me in deciding whether to buy the 4th in the trilogy, as I like to call all books/films that purport to be trilogies and then consequently pop out another.

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  4. Actually I'd call it Eurocentricism before I call it cultural imperialism. Actually, cultural imperialism is definitely the wrong word for that as it implies an actual process probably more tied to the processes of globalization/Westernization (ie McDonald's in Taiwain kind of thing) which is a whole nother thing that you're talking about. But yes, I agree.

    I think in terms of default positions, a good person you can read is Franz Fanon or Richard Dyer, particularly his work "White". Sara Ahmed is really good here too - actually there are a lot of great social theorists that discuss this. Bell Hooks and Toni Morrison, Angela Davis etc.

    But I digress, great great post and you're right CoFA represents everything that's wrong with the current YA industry. Not that that'll hurt her sales, but I'm glad someone's speaking up. Honestly, you should spread this a round a bit more - people need to read this. Don't fear trolls because what can they do to you beyond writing poorly constructed comments with bad spelling and grammar for the purpose of insulting you, on the assumption that you'll care?

    Anyway, I also want to note that the 'fantastic racism' in the books towards mundanes was mind-boggling. You'd especially expect someone like Clary to be the most opposed to human-bashing since she spent most of her life as one. Her and Simon should be the ones to reign the other SHs in when they start bashing mundanes. She should also feel some kind of a dilemma of being liminal - on one hand she's a Shadow Hunter and know's she'll never be like a regular human, and yet on the other she SHOULD feel more like a human than a SH. That's an actual psychological conflict that Clare could have delved more into to make both Clary and Simon (with Simon being a vampire) feel more like rounded characters with actual struggles outside their love lives. I think she tried to do this with Simon but failed utterly with Clary. Clary is Jace. Her entire world, her thoughts, emotions, motivations and concerns are all Jace. That's not enough.

    Anyway, time to end this rant, so many good points you brought up and yes I do hope you try to spread this around so a wider audience can read it. Hey, if the YAMafia thing can blow up surely a few intelligent YA readers who've had enough can start the ball rolling on something like this. I'm hoping you guys do, because the industry/YA comm has no right to police this shit as if this ISN'T the internet.

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  5. I wonder how long it would take Clare to start including slut-shaming in her novels. Can't be too long, what with everything else....

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  6. This sucks. I am such a fan of this series and the thought of COFA being a big disappointment really worries me. I don't like the sound of Jace loosing his trademark snarkiness, it's what made me adore him in the first place. The fact that you mentioned her writing isn't on point is also worrying. I suppose you are right, when an author gets the popularity they may feel they don't need to make half the effort because of their fan base. That fan base is only going to stick though if you provide them what they want. City of Endless Angst LOL :D Thank you for the honest post!

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  7. I haven't read the book so I won't comment on that, but this is pretty much where the market is these days - the buying market is dominated by the "I never liked books until Twilight" crowd, and, while there are plenty of books that don't stick to the "girl who is just like you (only born somehow 'special') loves her first bf forever despite a terrible secret" formula coming out, few of them are selling well (without awards or a heck of a marketing plan). Increasingly, it seems that the girls who want anything else are going to other sections, along with pretty much all of the boys (who probably account for about 2% of YA sales right now). I'd love to blame BN or the publishers for all this, but the real problem is just the state of the market at the moment.

    I can't criticize people for doing series books when the chance comes up, though; having a long term, multi-book contract can feel like job security (which is hard to come by in this business).

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  8. As soon as Clare said something along the lines of "I always planned for this to be a 6 book series," I called BS and knew I wasn't buying this one. Now, I like book series, but only to an extent. When they start getting drawn out merely to make money instead of being an actual complete work I can't take it anymore.

    Like you, I bought and read Blackveil this year after, what . . . 4 years of waiting? And it wasn't worth it. Nothing happened in it except melodrama that I've stopped caring about. I'm tired of authors thinking it's clever to milk the cash cow. I won't be getting the next Green Rider and I won't be buying anything else from Ms. Clare. When it stops being fun, why should I continue with it?

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  9. I was about to go get this book. IM so glad that you just wrote this.

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  10. Bummer - I just bought this for my daughter. I know she read and loved the first three books in the series, and when I saw this at Target, I figured it was something she'd like. But after this review, I'm thinking I not only wasted money and encouraged the trend of poorly written series but have given my kid crap to read. Well, worse than normal crap, that is.

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  11. Can someone clear this up for me? Is Cassandra Clare the same Cassandra Claire that wrote those epically long Harry Potter fan-fictions? (not that I used to read Harry Potter fanfiction.... *looks away*)

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  12. Actually... blue used to be the traditional wedding colour (in Europe) until Queen Victoria's love for white dresses made white popular. Which makes the author seem ignorant not only of other cultures, but of her own as well.

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  13. I've never read these particular books, but a lot of what you say rings true for another non-YA series I read years ago, right down to the lazy writing and nonexistent editing. In the case of that series, the author basically did come out and say she doesn't bother with anything more than a first draft nowadays, because she "doesn't have to...[readers] will buy it no matter what." How insulting. That was the last I read of her.

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  14. ooooh, really? Gossip! Who, who? Damn this public forum!

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  15. It's as though people are afraid to try something different in case their fans don't approve. Personally, I'd rather anticipate a new story from a writer as opposed to another book in a series that is starting to drag on for too long. I'd never be tempted to read (or pay for) the work of a known plagiarist such as Cassandra Clare and the news that she's reviving an extending a completed trilogy makes me even more determined to avoid it.

    Some writers can make a series work for them, though. Terry Pratchett's Discworld combines the best of both worlds: a familiar setting and a few familiar characters forming the backdrop for new stories and ideas every time.

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  16. I have to agree with a lot of what you say. I relish a good book that doesn't have a 'to be continued' on the back page. I thought Time Riders was a fabulous book but can't see where it can be different in book two. I enjoyed the Mortal Instrument trilogy but feel no need to read CoFA. I think the worst culprit of spinning a story out is definetly the Houe of Night novels, and I got so fed up with the references to pop culture and modern technology that I actually stopeed reading the latest one half way through.

    Maybe teenagers today are completely different from what i was like (i'm only 31) and they need the drawn out storylines and don't want a story to end with the last page.

    Its interesting that librarians, some authors and adult fans of YA literature note that there are few stand alone books but teenagers love the 'series' and feel cheated if there is not a 'to be continued'.

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  17. The Eragon thing is not over with Brisingr!? ...But I was so happy about the fact that when I read Brisingr, the mess in Eldest would be settled... I'm just sad now.

    Good thing I don't have the intention to read C.C or The House of Whatevers.

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  18. I have to say I was laughing as you listed the characters and what we remember about them. That is so true. There is nothing more you can really say about them because they were so poorly developed.

    Great post! Thank you for pointing out why YA novels (series especially) have been grating on my nerves so badly lately.

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  19. Whenever Starcrossed is mentioned, I get all giddy, thinking it is another book from last year called StarCrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce. Because that is a book I loved, and am waiting impatiently for the sequel of.

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  20. And the reason she used that name was just so that people who knew her as a BNF could find the book. I think the reason she lost the I is because there was a thing where cassandraclaire.com linked to her exploits as a plagiarist. Sadly, that website is gone.

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  21. I agree to everything that you have said in this post.It's a shame that such terrible books are being published when there are better authors/books who deserve a chance.

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  22. I agree with everything that you wrote.It's a shame that such terrible books are getting published when there are better authors/books that deserve a chance.

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  23. Really!But writing fan-fiction isn't exactly plagiarism,Is there something else to this that I'm missing?

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  24. Sadly, I have to agree that this book was a disappointment/waste of paper.
    Great post, Vinaya.

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  25. She stole quotes from TV shows as well as used an entire passage from a novel by Pamela Dean.

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  26. I've been feeling many of these same feelings about YA for a long time. I recently had a couple hundred bucks from doing odd jobs on weekends, and chose to spend it on books. The sequel syndrome killed me. I bought between 15 and 20 books. Every single one of them had a sequel! Even the ones I thought were stand-alone plugged sequels at the end. It's exasperating! And the inconsistencies in CoFA distracted me from the story, which made it difficult to even tolerate, much less enjoy. I was hung up on Kyle's description for far too long (the black hair that changed to brown). Ugh. But thanks for finally voicing all these problems with the current YA market. :)

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  27. She stole huge amounts of text from other writers. As in, entire passages taken verbatim from published authors. As far as I'm concerned, everything she puts on paper that's worth reading has a real potential of being someone else's work.

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  28. Outstanding essay, Vinaya. :) I've never read this book and I don't intend to (especially after I've read this), but you very persuasively tied City of Fallen Angels to the failings of the YA genre. Great job.

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  29. THIS.
    I loved the first books (read: I love Simon Lewis with an undying passion) but COFA took it too far ... I must confess i enjoyed the interaction (read: bromance) between Simon , Jace and the new guy...and Izzy and Maia.
    I love the characters more than i like the actual books , well writing fanfic would do the trick for me after this last book...

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  30. What a post! Now, I have not read this series yet, so I can neither agree or disagree. However, I can say that even if I end up disagreeing with this post, I am pleased to see a different type of post on a very popular book right now. Different views are very important to the literature world. I will agree that some series go beyond their life expectancy, which obviously exist as a form of "cash revenue". However, I do think even such books/series do serve the literary community in the sense that people are reading. I think that as long as someone reading one book, they are more likely to read another book, whether that be from the same series or a different series or author. I think this a positive! I would rather people read books that I may not necessarily read than not read at all - reading helps the horrible literacy rates in many ways.

    Character Development - this is KEY for me in any book. In all my reviews I speak about Character Development and the author's level of success in this. For me, if a book's characters are underdeveloped I automatically think less of the book and author. If characters are developed properly, the plot seems to fall into place much better, along with many different aspects of the book.

    All that being said, I can think of one series that I ABSOLUTELY loved!! This series had AMAZING character development, plot lines, excitement, tension, romance, etc. = Vampire Academy. I purposefully didn't read this series until this year because of all the hype (too much hype turns me off) but I found myself kicking myself - it was amazing!! I also think Richelle Mead did a fantastic job in ending the series and creating a spin-off series, which from all the news and blurbs sounds like it will be a completely different series.

    Well, I don't want to ramble any more lol but I will again say - even if I don't agree with this post after I read this series (whenever that may be - probably not for some time) I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! Great post!! - - FB Liked too!!

    <3 Happy Reading!
    Patricia @ Patricia's Particularity

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  31. I really like your comment: ""girl who is just like you (only born somehow 'special') loves her first bf forever despite a terrible secret" formula" - this is soo true!

    <3 Happy Reading
    Patricia @ Patricia's Particularity

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  32. After reading this I just wanted to give you an standing ovation.

    You put into words all my thoughts they way I could have never done so, and you're very brave to do so (considering the thousands of murderous fan girls that are probably tracking you down right now).


    I can't express how depressed all those things happening in YA right now make me feel.

    It feels like the point of reading nowadays is to get a new obsession (and a movie out of a book, and countless books in the series that if put together they make the plot for 1).

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  33. Me too! I loved StarCrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce.

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  34. I really liked the first cycle in the Mortal Instruments. And then I got CoFA, read it in 4 days (which is long for me) and felt like: "Is it just me or is there something seriously wrong? Are we talking about the same characters? Everybody seems so excited with 5* reviews - I'm just seriously bored."
    Obviously it isn't just me.

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  35. This is the most interesting and thought-provoking article about YA I've read it a very long time. Thank you, Vinaya. It's also good to see such well-informed and articulate comments. I've read all Clare's books, including CofFA. I also follow her on Twitter, and judging from the adoring comments she retweets, there's no doubt that her fan base is going to buy anything she puts out as long as it has Jace (or Will, from her 'prequel' series) in it, however thin and badly-written.

    I think there is more than one problem here. First is, as you say, publisher/author greed. But there's also a problem within publishing--and that is the current calibre of editing skills. Of course, there are brilliant editors out there who know what they are doing. But in general, because grammar and language skills are not considered important any more, most editors haven't the all-important 'eye' they used to have. As a children's editor in the 80's, the first thing I was given to read, mark and inwardly digest was Butcher's 'Copy-Editing'. Now that I'm on the writing side of the fence, I am obsessive about checking my own work for linguistic howlers because I can still hear my old boss's voice in my head. "A myriad of rainbows? I don't think, so. There is no 'of' after myriad," was an often-repeated complaint. But I read too many books from good and well-respected writers with the most appalling howlers left in them which are also badly edited from a plot perspective. Clare's books are not alone in suffering from sloppy editing.

    I do want to add a note of hope though. My teenage years (and those of my friends) were spent reading the most god-awful crap in the way of books (admittedly with some good stuff thrown in too). Mills and Boon and Barbara Cartland were staples, and I've had a horror of using the ubiquitous .... ever since! We all grew out of them and moved on to better things. I'm hoping that the same will happen to the current crop of teenage YA readers.

    Lucy Coats at http://scribblecitycentral.blogspot.com

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  36. City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass... City of Fallen Angels? One of these things is not like the other...

    A shame, really, since I'm a fan of the original trilogy. Was there really any need to stretch the story to six books?


    I don't want to think about the state that the plot will be in by the time the last one comes out. That is, if there still is a plot. :|

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  37. I haven't read any of this series or the Twilight books, for that matter, but I'm glad you highlight that it is possible to write a YA series (paranormal or otherwise) with strong characters and a kick-ass plot in every book. The key is knowing the life-span of the series and standing your ground when you reach that final The End.

    I'm actually giving a talk at the UK Romantic Novelists' Association conference this year on the rise of the bad boy in YA lit and whether we are sending the right messages to our teenage girls. This post has added fuel to the fire, so thanks.

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  38.  I really enjoyed City Of Glass, I thought the ending was brilliant and a great end to an entertaining series. Wish I'd never read CoFA. I couldn't have summed it up any better than you have in this post, you may aswell have taken the words straight from my own brain. No plot, no character development, so much angst I wanted to rip the thing in half. Lazy, fan-fiction style writing lacking the zip and bite of her previous work. Won't be buying the next one.

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  39.  I really enjoyed City Of Glass, I thought the ending was brilliant and a great end to an entertaining series. Wish I'd never read CoFA. I couldn't have summed it up any better than you have in this post, you may aswell have taken the words straight from my own brain. No plot, no character development, so much angst I wanted to rip the thing in half. Lazy, fan-fiction style writing lacking the zip and bite of her previous work. Won't be buying the next one.

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  40. I felt exactly the same, it was such a let-down. Felt like rushed fan-fiction. Such a shame, I loved the first cycle. 

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  41.  I agree for the most part, but I did like the Simon story-arch more or less and the introduction of Jordan, as annoyingly cliche as it is. I do think she did a good job with developing Izzy's character, albeit through brief scattered interactions. I thoroughly enjoyed the new layer and depth she added to Izzy. It was something long overdue.

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  42.  Although I do agree that CoFA was the slowest book of the series, I wouldn't call it terrible. I genuinely liked the first three books very much. When I heard that Clare was stretching out the series, I was a little skeptical. She should have just left it when she was very popular, not tried to stretch it out the way she did. CoFA did come as a disappointment to me, a little bit, but I do think you're judging it a little harshly. It's not as if Clare scribbled down whatever came to mind and then published it. She obviously put a lot of work into it (she worked on it for almost a year, after all.) She isn't an incompetent write. And just because she writes fan fiction, that doesn't mean you should compare her actual books to it. Fan fiction is a hobby, writing is a job. And I disagree that the characters have no personalities. I did find myself laughing out loud many times during CoFA. I know this is just your opinion, but I think that maybe next time you shouldn't read the book with such a critical eye. If you go into a book with your mind already made up about the author or the series, you're not going to judge it fairly. Although I don't think that CoFA is a great piece of literature, I don't think it warrants this much negativity. I'd like to see you work hard writing a book and then receive tons of negative judgments about it plastered all over the internet.  

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