So, here are a few books I've wanted to read for a while but for various reasons haven't. Fortunately, they all managed to be worth the little wait.
Before I get started I have to apologize for breaking all my codes and principles concerning spoilers with this one. So beware, there are SPOILERS ahead.
The last installation of The Mortal Instruments is a huge book. There are over 700 pages and it's also taller than the regular hardcover which means this book contains a lot of material.
City of Heavenly Fire was a good ending to this series but I felt it could have been better. Most of the major events were magnificent and there were excellent themes and thought-provoking solutions but the book suffered from absurd stops and irritating pauses to the really interesting stuff. The prologue and epilogue will be mentioned in my ranting post about said subjects when I get around writing it.
Next I'll mention some of the best things and some of the worst things. Starting with the bad is always good so, here it comes. First of all, Emma Carstairs. No, just no. I can't deal with a third Clary. Emma was not an interesting character and for some reason had a LOT of narrative parts. I mean, what the hell? This is the finale so I want to follow the main characters and know what happens to them! I couldn't care less about an annoying 14-year-old girl who just shouts and broods all the time. What makes it worse is that she will most likely be the main character of the new series and frankly I'm not sure I even want to read it.
The other irritating part was the deaths. Clearly Cassandra Clare had become too attached to her characters and couldn't kill her darlings. Jordan's death was great even if it wasn't surprising and the conversation between Maia and Bat afterwards really made me like Maia a lot more. So pay extra attention to the pages 235 & 236. The others however... We were told that three major characters would die. First was Jordan but the second was Raphael. Although I like him very much I would hardly consider him that important. The third was obviously Sebastian/Jonathan which again wasn't surprising even though it was brilliantly written. I hate to say this but I want more! I am eternally grateful that neither Magnus or Alec died because I would've been terribly angry. I would've wished that Isabelle or Simon or both would've died. I love Isabelle and Simon sort of grew on me but I needed them to die. It would've brought more sadness and brutality to the story. It was simply ridiculous and unbelievable that all of them survived.
I expect plenty of humour from a Mortal Instruments book and this time my expectations weren't met. This one was quite bleak and serious. The truly funny lines came from Alec which was surprising but I felt he did his duty and delivered excellently. Too bad all the other characters decided to be all boring.
Now I can move on the things I liked. The one I feel deserves the first mentioning is from the last chapter before epilogue "Call it Peace". I adore the fact that not everything ended well. The revenge upon the Fair Folk was genius and Magnus' speech was moving. It was so thrilling and striking that I still carry it with me. The horrible decision concerning Helen Blackthorn also belongs to this category. I would even claim that this thing right there was the best offering City of Heavenly Fire had. It was simply glorious.
Next thing I liked was the transformation in Zachariah. It was a bit silly was at the same time I felt that he deserved it after all he's been through. I still don't like Tessa though.
One of my favourite things was also the philosophic parts. We interrupt this silly teen book to bring you deep and thought-provoking conversations and realisations.
Fine I admit it, I loved lots of things about this book and it would take me way too long to mention them all. Just one more, I swear! Clary and Jace finally get to the point! I still can't quite believe it myself.
4 / 6 relationship-saving notebooks given on a roof (where anyone could see)
Cassandra Clare: City of Heavenly Fire, 2014, Walker Books, 733 pages
John Green: The Fault in Our Stars
The main character is Hazel who has cancer. The most troubling thing is the tumor in her lung which makes breathing a bit difficult most of the time. A new miracle drug has stopped it from growing and brought Hazel a little more time. She's still nothing but terminal though. Her life is pretty boring and meaningless until she meets a pretentious but charming boy Augustus in cancer-support group. Together they create their own little world with spontaneous adventures and heavy bickering.
The Fault in Our Stars is a very hard book to review. It was funny and sad while being both silly and profound. The characters felt so very real that this could have been a portrait of true events and people. John Green's writing style supports this reality with it's unpretentious and simple nature. This a book for those who are fed up with perfect characters. I mean their lives are as ordinary as they can be with Hazel having an oxygen tank with her at all times and Gus having a prosthetic leg. I read the second half of this book with one go because it was simply too gripping to put away. I didn't always agree with the philosophy of the characters but it made me think of my own beliefs and the frailty of life. The universe is laughing at us all.
Just don't forget your tissues while reading because you might get emotionally involved...
5½ / 6 car rides to places (Gus is driving)
John Green: The Fault in Our Stars, 2012, Penguin Books, 324 pages
Koushun Takami: Battle Royale
In a dystopian future where Japan won the Pacific war and became The Republic of Greater East Asia a class from Shiroiwa Junior High School are on their way to a study trip when suddenly they all fall asleep on the bus. They wake up in an unfamiliar classroom with metal collars around their necks and get told that their class has been selected to participate in the Program which means that they're going to have to kill each other until only one survivor is left. Shuya Nanahara is sort of the main character even though many others have narrative parts as well. He forms an alliance with Noriko Nagakawa and Shogo Kawada and together they try to escape the entire game.
The Hunger Games has been compared to Battle Royale on multiple occasions and Suzanne Collins has received critique for plagiarism. She has claimed having not known anything about Battle Royale before the accusations and Takami has stated that he believes Collins. It's true that the two books have a lot in common but there are also plenty of differences. However I won't be focusing on those right now because it would be long and off topic.
Battle Royale is brilliantly written and very gripping. You won't find long introductions here. The action starts quickly and continues steadily throughout the book. Just when you think you can relax something unexpected happens. The readers get to see inside the characters' minds and witness their deaths. No one is left nameless and faceless but everyone matters for that short moment which is just enough to feel sorry for most of the students.
Violence wise this book is brutal. There aren't many students who die quickly and without pain. Takami doesn't spare us from blood and gore. Next to Battle Royale The Hunger Games is a children's book. I don't get easily sick reading violent stuff so it didn't really bother me and honestly the raw cruelty completed the story and made it more believable. However, sometimes someone seemed to be conscious for a lot longer than is physically possible at least when it happens on several different occasions but you get used to it. Only the death of Kazushi Niida made me a bit nauseous even though he really had it coming.
I loved the dark but sort of melancholy feel of the book. The happier parts were rare but well written and it made me cherish every little piece of light I was given.
6 / 6 paper fans as your assigned weapon (good luck with that)
Koushun Takami: Battle Royale,バトル・ロワイアル Batoru Rowaiaru, 1999, published in English 2003, HAIKASORU, 576 pages