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The Ninja Reader

High-brow or downright pretentious, good PNR or sparkly vampires, I don't care about the premise so long as it entertains me.

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Bullying: The Social Destruction of Self
Laura Martocci
Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare You know, I don't think there is a book that got so many unexpected, glowing reviews from my GR friends as this one. And I can see where all the love is coming from - Clare is actually improving very much in this installment. The prose is actually very good, and the characters are getting some real-life conflicts. I'm actually very pleased with the turn this book took, and the note it ended on.Two reasons why I didn't give this book five stars then: I love Jem, and I don't particularly like Clare's Disneyfied approach to conflict.Contradictory? Very, but I'll try to explain why I thought so as well as I can. I put the review under a spoiler tag because there is just no other way to explain everything.I love Jem. I think he's probably the best character Clare ever wrote, bar none. For one thing, he's half-Chinese. How cool is that? For another thing, he's been given actual conflict, unlike the Will "My-character-feature-is-brooding" Herondale. He is struggling and angry, but he balances it out with a kind character and genuine love for the people around him, which is why his dark moods never seem forced or contrived.Jem's characterization alone can make the book for me, and this is why I was genuinely happy for his relationship with Tessa. What made me axe a whole star off this book's rating, though is that Tessa (and Clare) obviously favor Will and the third book will no doubt either have Jem killed off, or have him fall in love with somebody else, or some other non-threatening way of getting him out of the picture so that Will and Tessa can be together.That annoys me. Why can't, for once, the sensitive, respectful boy get the girl? Why can't the girl genuinely fall for him, instead of using the nice boy to forget about a douchebag? Why can't she genuinely forget about the douchebag and love the nice boy, instead of staying with him out of duty and honor? This kind of stuff really irks me about this love triangle. The only saving grace is that, unlike any other triangle, this one actually has two guys who genuinely care for each other and who have a great friendship going on (or more. I'd really be impressed if Clare takes her 'no-loving-your-parabatai' thing and expands on it in the last book). Will in particular is a frustrating character for me, and his storyline in this book is the direct consequence of the second thing which annoyed me here - the Disneyfied conflict. I first heard of this in the Nostalgia Chick's Top Ten Disney Deaths review, in which she points out the various ways in which a villain is disposed of without actually having the protagonist guilty of murder. Likewise, Will's (and nearly everyone else's) conflict seems to stem from things which conveniently make them the victim. It wasn't Jem's fault he's an addict, he was tortured by a demon.It wasn't Will's fault his sister died, he was tricked and never thought about looking more into it as the years came. The douchiness and the horrible way he treated others are perfectly excusable. Tessa wasn't really responsible for Nate's death, it was all Henry's device. Charlotte and Henry actually love each other, and everything else was a misunderstanding. This kind of approach is annoying because it actively eliminates all possibility for character development. Nobody needs to address the bad things they do, or come to terms with actual bad decisions, because in the end, it's not their fault (and it can be argued that even if it's not their fault, they ought to address the things they do at least in passing).It also reduces the main tension of the book to the love triangle. Oh, sure, there's the Magister drama, but the man doesn't even make an appearance except for a brief flashback. There is no doubt about what the main characters really care for, and while that is a pretty interesting conflict, it is not strong enough to carry a whole book on its own. Maybe my dire predictions won't come true. Maybe Clare will go against all odds and actually give us something we don't expect. Until then, though, I will relish in my belief that Jem and Tessa are engaged and nothing will tear them apart..........Yeah, right.