Hello, ladies, gentlemen, and others. No recapping this time, since very little actually happened last chapter. So, let’s get right to it.
The chapter opens up with Clary in Beth Israel Hospital, which is apparently where her mother is being kept. We’re told that the hospital’s interior makes her think of Antarctica, what with its interior being gray, white, or light blue. Okay, fair enough. Then she wonders about how Luke can somehow afford to keep her mom in a private room, and considers asking him when he comes back, as he’s gone to get coffee (which we’re told is terrible, but whatever).
That’s actually a good question. So I won’t be surprised when it goes unanswered.
Clary then turns her attention to her mother, and we’re told how she always feels awkward when she’s visited her mom in the hospital (would have been nice to see this, CC), because apparently the only other times she’s seen her mother’s face that still is when she (Jocelyn) was angry. After a bit of filler describing Jocelyn’s hands, Clary explains why she’s here:
“It’s Simon. Something’s happened to him. Something that was my fault.”
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it’s nice that we’re finally getting to see Clary visit her comatose mother – you know, the only real family she’s ever had. But on the other hand, she’s only here because she feels guilty, and needs to confess to somebody so that CC can justify absolving her of any wrongdoing. And her guilt isn’t even over her mother – it’s over her back-up love interest. So I’m going to give her one of these:
*Our “Heroes”: 1
Clary recaps everything that’s happened, but we’re spared having to sit through the whole mess, thank Yog-Sothoth. After that, Clary says that she’s “screwed everything up royally” – truer words have never been spoken – and goes into this whole spiel about how growing up means having regrets, so that must mean Clary’s growing up now – yeah gonna call bullshit on that – and caps it off by bursting into tears because Jocelyn is in a coma, and thus can’t help or comfort her – the first time in this scene where Clary’s emotions have even vaguely focused on someone other than herself.
Luke shows up and they leave. During the drive, he admits that he overheard Clary’s confession, and we get to giving her absolution. Instead of trying to tear it apart bit by bit, or post the whole thing here, I’m just going to put it in script format. Every word of this is directly from the text – only descriptions and some extraneous bits have been removed.
Luke: “What happened to Simon wasn’t your fault.”
Clary: “It’s a nice thing to say, but of course it was my fault. Everything that happened to Simon was my fault.”
Luke: “Because he was angry at you when he went back to the hotel? He didn’t go back to the hotel because he was angry at you, Clary. I’ve heard of situations like this before. They call them ‘darklings,’ those who are half-turned. He would have felt drawn back to the hotel by a compulsion he couldn’t control.”
Clary: “Because he had Raphael’s blood in him. But that would never have happened either if it weren’t for me. If I hadn’t brought him to that party—”
Luke: “You thought it would be safe there. You weren’t putting him in any danger you hadn’t put yourself in. You can’t torture yourself like this. There’s no point to it. Look, In [sic] all the years I’ve known him, there’s always been exactly one place Simon wanted to be, and he’s always fought like hell to make sure he got there and stayed there.”
Clary: “Where’s that?”
Luke: “Wherever you were. Remember when you fell out of that tree on the farm when you were ten, and broke your arm? Remember how he made them let him ride with you in the ambulance on the way to the hospital? He kicked and yelled till they gave in.”
Clary: “You laughed, and my mom hit you in the shoulder.”
Luke: “It was hard not to laugh. Determination like that in a ten-year-old is something to see. He was like a pit bull.”
Clary: “If pit bulls wore glasses and were allergic to ragweed.”
Luke: *“You can’t put a price on that kind of loyalty.”
Clary: “I know. Don’t make me feel worse.”
Luke: “Clary, I’m telling you he made his own decisions. What you’re blaming yourself for is being what you are. And that’s no one’s fault and nothing you can change. You told him the truth and he made up his own mind what he wanted to do about that. Everyone has choices to make; no one has the right to take those choices away from us. Not even out of love.”
This last bit I’m going to give to you verbatim, because if I had to suffer through reading it, so do you:
“But that’s just it,” Clary said. “When you love someone, you don’t have a choice.” She thought of the way her heart had contracted when Isabelle had called to tell her Jace was missing. She’d left the house without a moment’s thought or hesitation. “Love takes your choices away.”
So, that was CC trying to have her cake and eat it, too – Clary feels bad about what happened to Simon (which she should!), no doubt in an attempt to gain audience sympathy, only to have the Reasonable Authority Figure step in to tell her that “it’s not your fault,” and therefore she shouldn’t feel bad.
Now let’s go through it bit by bit.
First, I got the impression that half the reason Simon stormed off in the first place was because Clary made-out with Jace. And the only reason he was there was because she dragged him along. I don’t even remember why either of them had to go to fairy-land in the first place, other than CC is railroading her characters like a bad DM. As for what happened in the last book, Clary should feel even more guilty, since she “ thought it would be safe” and his life still ended up in danger.
Second, with regards to Simon’s slavish devotion to Clary, that should make her feel responsible for him – if he’s willing to literally go to Hell and back for her, then it’s Clary’s responsibility to make sure she doesn’t do shit like that.
Quick sidebar – I recently finished First Lord’s Fury, the last book in Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. One of the main plot threads is the main protagonist, Tavi, leading a make-shift army to save the remnants of his people from a nasty bug-like race. At one point, one of the side characters thinks something along the lines of “every man in this army would follow Tavi into Hell if he asked them to”. They are that loyal to him. And Tavi feels the weight of that loyalty – when the bugs attack their camp and they only suffer light casualties, he’s still angry, because he’s been leading these men for years, and doesn’t want any of them to die.
Loyalty is a two-way street. Clary might not have forced Simon to do anything, but she should still know that she’s capable of making him do stuff, and should act accordingly.
Also, what the fuck does Luke know about loyalty? He’s only the guy who has lead his own packs into fights that may or may not concern them twice, abandoned his first pack shortly afterwards to chase after his not-girlfriend, and defended the guy who attacked his current pack.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – Luke is the werewolf version of Vidkun Quisling.
Now the counts:
*Our “Heroes”: 5
One for each time Luke explained how it totally isn’t Clary’s fault that Simon’s a bloodsucking creature of the night.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 1
For being reminded yet again of how much Clary luuuuuuuuvvvs Jace.
You Keep Using That Word: 1
For a grammatical error – see that “[sic]” up there? That “In” is capitalized in-text because CC had a dialogue tag right before that, and closed it with a period. Guess she doesn’t know that you can end those with a comma when it’s not a complete sentence.
Oh, and the Kindle program on my computer tells me that 2,225 people have highlighted that “Everyone has choices” sentence. Guess a lot of CC’s fans don’t like being made to feel responsible for other people’s actions.
And speaking of Jace, Luke, for no apparent reason, asks if Clary’s heard anything from him. Because that’s who we should be concerned about right now – not the kid who’s whole life has probably been ripped away from him, no, we need to worry about the moody asshole who thinks violence is an acceptable means of expressing his feelings.
Clary’s response is so sickening I have to share it with you. Because if I have to suffer, so do you.
“Oh.” Jace had called her cell phone several times and left messages. She hadn’t picked up or called him back. Not talking to him was her penance for what had happened to Simon. It was the worst way she could think to punish herself. “No, I haven’t.”
Both Hands, Ma’am: 2
Fuck you, CC. I don’t care how much she luuuurvs Jace – Clary’s basically cut off her own phone privileges. Because I guess grounding herself was too harsh; that’s reserved for if she murders someone.
Oh, and don’t think I missed you referring to this as “penance” either. I doubt that Clary (or possibly you, for that matter) would know what real penance is. Fuck, Clary is such a goddamn over-dramatic teenager. And the fact that I’m supposed to take this seriously only makes it worse.
Oh, but the Jace Wayland pity party is only getting started. Here’s what Luke says next:
Luke’s voice was carefully neutral. “You might want to. Just to see if he’s all right. He’s probably having a pretty bad time of it, considering—”
Considering what? Please, tell me how you were going to finish that sentence, Luke – I really want to know. Considering that he mouthed off to the wrong person and finally had to suffer some form of punishment for it? Considering that his second round of being imprisoned basically amounted to house arrest, and he still got out of that via authorial fiat? What?
I’m going to move on before blood starts dripping out my nose.
Clary tells Luke to call Magnus if he wants an update on Jace. Luke says that Magnus can tell him about how Jace is doing physically, but not mentally, implying that only Clary can get or figure that out. Because they just know each other so well and all. But Clary insists that she’s not going to call Jace, and that Simon probably not doing all that well mentally either.
Nice to see her finally giving a shit about Simon. Too bad he literally had to die to get her attention.
And we come to another bit that must be seen to be believed:
Luke sighed. “If he’s having trouble coming to terms with his condition, maybe he should—”
“Of course he’s having trouble!” She shot Luke an accusing look, though he was concentrating on traffic and didn’t notice. “You of all people ought to understand what it’s like to—”
“Wake up a monster one day?” Luke didn’t sound bitter, just weary. “You’re right, I do understand. And if he ever wants to talk to me, I’d be happy to tell him all about it. He will get through this, even if he thinks he won’t.”
Here’s the thing, Luke – Simon probably needs someone to talk to about what he’s going through. As I see it, he’s got two options: you, or Raphael. Now, Raphael might have gone through the same thing as Simon, but he doesn’t really know Simon. So instead of waiting for Simon to come to you, why don’t you get off your lazy ass and talk to him? Fuck, at least you could tell him the same thing you just told Clary.
Clary points out that at least Luke knew vampires and werewolves existed before he was turned – Simon would have to first convince people that vampires are real first. Oh, but Luke’s got that covered: he got Simon a pamphlet – How to Come Out to Your Parents!
I can’t even get mad any more. We’re only four pages on my Kindle program in, and I’m already angered-out.
Clary has the presence of mind to point out that being gay and being a vampire are not the same thing, but Luke persists, suggesting that Simon could maybe fiddle with one of the pre-written speeches.
Before I discuss this, I’m going to get this out of the way:
Rapier Twit: 1
Now, on to the other issue. There’s a prevalence in certain genres (namely Urban Fantasy and certain Sci-Fi works) to treat supernaturals (or mutants, or whatever) as stand-ins for various minorities. And while I commend the authors for trying to use their work as a means of discussing the issues such people face, but there’s one problem (which Clary actually points out) – being a vampire (or werewolf, or mutant, or whatever) isn’t the same as being gay (or black, or trans, or whatever). Mostly because the former tend to have some kind of special abilities that make them more dangerous than the latter. The latter being treated unfairly because of what they are is totally unjustified – doing the same with the former, not so much.
And I guess this means that if I lived in the Marvel universe, I would probably vote for mutant registration. I mean, have you seen what some of those guys can do? You’re damn right I think they should be in a database somewhere.
They finally reach Luke’s house, and find Simon sitting on the porch. Isn’t it amazing how these conversations always take exactly the right amount of time it takes for these characters to drive anywhere? Even if the drive-time is several times longer than it would take to have the entire conversation?
Anyway, Clary decides to act somewhat like an adult and talk to Simon, while Luke, the actual adult, runs off. Oh, it’s presented as him trying to give them some privacy, but I can’t help but view it as him desperately avoiding having to take any responsibility for these children at all. It fits so well with the interpretation I’ve built of him.
Clary has a flashback to them taking Simon back to his house after the last chapter. Why we didn’t get to see any of this firsthand, I don’t know. Guess that would put the focus on Simon and his legitimate problems, rather than Clary and her fake ones.
Oh, and the flashback ends with this:
“Clary,” Jace had whispered, and he’d reached for her hand, but she’d recoiled from him just as Simon had recoiled from the light. She wouldn’t touch him. She’d never touch him again. That was her penance, her payment for what she’d done to Simon.
Because once again, not being able to make out with a guy she has every reason to believe is her brother is such a huge punishment.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 3
Clary says hi, Simon gets up, and it’s described like this:
He stood up in one single smooth graceful movement that sent a chill up her spine. There was one thing Simon had never been, and that was graceful.
The reason I point this out is because this has literally never been mentioned before. If anything, Clary is supposed to be the clumsy one; it was mentioned back in chapter 2 of the previous book. Look:
Jocelyn even had a graceful way of walking that made people turn their heads to watch her go by. Clary, by contrast, was always tripping over her feet. The only time people turned to watch her go by was when she hurtled past them as she fell downstairs.
Clary’s supposed clumsiness was never demonstrated or brought up again (which implies a lack of proper editing or rewrites), but my point stands.
They head inside, and the conversation eventually moves to Simon’s problem hiding his new vampire-ness from his parents – his eyesight is now fine, which he can easily explain as getting contact lenses, but he’s been claiming to have the flu for two days now (so we finally know how long it’s been), and he can’t keep that up forever.
“Clary, what am I going to do? My mom keeps bringing me food and I have to throw it out the window— I haven’t been outside in two days, but I don’t know how much longer I can go on pretending I have the flu. Eventually she’s going to bring me to the doctor, and then what? I don’t have a heartbeat. He’ll tell her that I’m dead.”
“Or write you up as a medical miracle,” said Clary.
“It’s not funny.”
No, Simon, it’s not. Again, when even the characters point out how bad the jokes are, you know something’s wrong.
Rapier Twit: 2
Also, Simon’s developed an unhealthy obsession with blood:
“I keep thinking about blood,” Simon said. “I dream about it. Wake up thinking about it. Pretty soon I’ll be writing morbid emo poetry about it.”
And once again, that’s kinda funny. Even in the depths of despair, Simon’s still the funniest character in this series.
If you’re wondering what Simon’s been doing so far, it turns out that Magnus gave him some bottles of blood, which Simon’s been keeping in his private mini-fridge. But Simon’s worried about what he’ll do when he runs out. Luckily, Clary’s here to reassure him:
“You won’t. We’ll get you some more,” Clary said, with more confidence than she felt. She supposed she could always hit up Magnus’s friendly local supplier of lamb’s blood, but the whole business made her queasy.
Wow, what a wonderful friend she is. “I’ll gladly help you, so long as I don’t have to deal with anything gross.”
Our “Heroes”: 6
Clary says that Simon’s going to have to tell his mother about this at some point, but Simon resists the idea. So Clary tries using Luke as proof that Downworlders can still lead normal lives. I’m not sure that Luke is a good example, considering he spent so much time chasing after Jocelyn, and recently got dragged back into this mess. Also, being a werewolf means (or at least should mean) having to put yourself on lock-down for maybe a few nights every month – being a vampire has a lot more restrictions.
And it’s that last bit that Simon’s most worried about – specifically, how it will impact their relationship:
“And what about us? Do you want a vampire boyfriend?” He laughed bitterly. “Because I foresee many romantic picnics in our future. You, drinking a virgin piña colada. Me, drinking the blood of a virgin.”
Rapier Twit: 3
Because that joke was terrible.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 4
Because of course that’s the most important thing – his ability to date the author’s self-insert.
And to top it all off, we get this:
“Think of it as a handicap,” Clary urged. “You just have to learn how to work your life around it. Lots of people do it.”
“I’m not sure I’m people. Not anymore.”
“You are to me,” she said. “Anyway, being human is overrated.”
“At least Jace can’t call me mundane anymore.”
Ooo, so close. You started off good there, CC, with Clary being all nice and supportive. Then you had to ruin it with Simon being a little emo shit. Then you made it worse with Clary’s “being human is overrated” comment – of course she thinks that, she’s thought that since the moment she found out she wasn’t exactly human. And then the cherry on the shit sundae – the idea that Jace not being a racist dick to Simon is somehow a good thing. Not that he’d stop being racist, period, but that he’d stop being mean to Simon. And not even because of something Simon did (like, say, save all their asses from a super-demon), but because Simon isn’t human any more.
Our “Heroes”: 8
One for Clary, and another for CC speaking through Simon.
Simon finally notices the pamphlet Clary’s been holding, and she hands it over. Thankfully, Simon is back to form and treats the idea with all the seriousness it deserves. I’ll just post the whole bit for you guys. Maybe it’ll wash out some of the taste from the other stuff:
“But you have to come out as a vampire,” Clary pointed out. “Luke thought maybe you could, you know, use one of the suggested speeches in the pamphlet, except use the word ‘undead’ instead of—”
“I get it, I get it.” Simon spread the pamphlet open. “Here, I’ll practice on you.” He cleared his throat. “Mom. I have something to tell you. I’m undead. Now, I know you may have some preconceived notions about the undead. I know you may not be comfortable with the idea of me being undead. But I’m here to tell you that the undead are just like you and me.” Simon paused. “Well, okay. Possibly more like me than you.”
“All right, all right.” He went on. “The first thing you need to understand is that I’m the same person I always was. Being undead isn’t the most important thing about me. It’s just part of who I am. The second thing you should know is that it isn’t a choice. I was born this way.” Simon squinted at her over the pamphlet. “Sorry, reborn this way.”
Clary sighed. “You’re not trying.”
“At least I can tell her you buried me in a Jewish cemetery,” Simon said, abandoning the pamphlet.
Gee, Clary, maybe he’s treating this proposal like a joke because it’s a really stupid idea. I thought you understood that back when Luke brought it up. Did you change your mind in the last few minutes?
Simon proposes they try telling his sister first – maybe she’ll be more open to the idea? Who knows – and Clary offers to come along as moral support. Simon asks if she’s serious, but before Clary can answer, there’s a loud noise of a car hitting something outside.
Nice save there, CC.
They go to the window and see that Luke ran something over. At first, Clary thinks it might be a person, then realizes that it’s something under a glamour. Luke jumps out of the car and runs for the house, and Simon figures out he’s running towards Maia, who’s laying on the porch. The description of all this is confusing as hell – at first, I thought Luke had run over Maia and was ignoring her. Not that that’d be out of character for him.
Simon and Clary spring into action, by which I mean run to the porch to stare at the injured werewolf girl. Maia’s got a nasty gash in her shoulder, and is bleeding out. Simon notices this and kinda freaks, because vampire, and Clary pays more attention to this fact than the injured and possibly dying girl. Because of course she does.
Our “Heroes”: 9
Regardless, they manage to get Maia inside and somewhat settled, though no one seems to have done anything about her wound. You’d think keeping her from bleeding out would have been one of the first things they’d do.
Our “Heroes”: 10
Instead, they start interrogating her. Maia was walking across the lawn, then got attacked by something, but she didn’t see what. Luke did see the thing following her, and tried to warn Maia by yelling out the window.
Okay, how oblivious are these people?
First – Luke? Yelling out the window of your truck? I’ll let K9 field this one:
Cars have this amazing thing that drivers can use to get people’s attention – it’s called a horn. Use it, dumbass.
Second – Maia? How did you fail to notice the truck coming towards you? I doubt it’s one of those super-silent electrical or hybrid cars, and the lights were on, as per the description after Luke hit the whatever-it-was.
Our “Heroes”: 12
One for each of you.
And speaking of the whatever-it-was, we finally get a name for it – it’s a Drevak demon. Apparently they’re blind, so they track by smell. Okay.
Clary looks out the window and sees that it is no longer underneath the wheels of Luke’s truck, but she isn’t worried about this, since the narration kindly reminds us that demons go back to their native dimensions when killed. Personally, I’d want to confirm that it didn’t just slink away, but I’m cautious like that.
Then Clary asks why such a thing would attack Maia, and wonders if it was sent by Valentine. She even goes on to explain why Valentine might attack Maia. But Luke shoots that idea down:
“I don’t think so,” Luke said, to her surprise. “Drevak demons aren’t bloodsuckers and they definitely couldn’t cause the kind of mayhem you saw in the Silent City. Mostly they’re spies and messengers. I think Maia just got in its way.”
Not sure why that first bit’s there – no one mentioned anything about it having attacked the Silent City. And who else would send a demon to spy on your house, Luke?
Luke finally gets around to dealing with Maia’s wound, and discovers that several of the demon’s spines (because apparently they have spines instead of teeth) broke off in Maia’s shoulder. Oh, and the spines are poisonous, and they need to get them out quickly to save Maia’s life. Good thing we didn’t waste any time on stupid shit, eh?
Our “Heroes”: 13Simon comes back in (he left at some point – it’s not important) and notices the spines in Maia’s shoulder. He responds accordingly:
He dropped the blanket when he saw Maia’s arm, and took an involuntary step back. “What are those?”
Unfortunately, Maia’s character gets ruined for no apparent reason:
“Squeamish about blood, mundane?” Maia said, with a small, twisted smile.
Goddamnit, CC, I liked Maia. Hell, she actually seemed to envy Simon being a plain-old human. And she knows his name – so why would she call him “mundane”, let alone be smug about it?
*Our “Heroes”: 14
We’re almost done, folks.
Luke pulls out a knife and gets ready to start cutting the spines out, but first Maia says she doesn’t want Simon or Clary to see it happen. Because that’s what’s important – not saving your life, no, but making sure your peers don’t see you in any pain. Maia, you could die. This is not the time to worry about your street cred.
Also, what if Luke needs help? Doctors don’t perform surgery alone, you know – there’s whole teams of people involved in even minor procedures.
But Luke acquiesces, and tells Clary and Simon to call the Institute and have them send someone over to help. Oh, and for added tension, we learn that Maia’s arm is turning purple.
Which would be a whole lot more effective if we hadn’t wasted so much time before hand.
Our “Heroes”: 15
And that’s it for this chapter.
I have a few thoughts before I close this entry out.
Now, I’m okay with having a chapter devoted solely to responding to Simon becoming a vampire. It’s a big deal, so it shouldn’t be brushed aside.
That said, this book’s been meandering since the beginning of part 2, which was waaay back in chapter 8. Instead of advancing the main plot, we’ve gotten bogged down in this sub-plot. It’s like an RPG, where you spend a couple hours finishing off all the little side-quests before moving on and advancing the main storyline.
Except that’s excusable in an RPG, because A) people doing that are likely trying to get the fullest experience of the game, and B) they aren’t forced to do that, and can move on at any time. That’s not the case here. Here, we have to wade through four chapters of this crap before seeing even the slightest hint of the main plot.
Anyway, we’re not about half way through this mess. With any luck, it’ll all be downhill from here.
But I kinda doubt that, because I’m not that lucky.
Entirely Pointless: 0 (Total: 29)
Un-Logic: 0 (Total: 28)
You Keep Using That Word: 1 (Total: 52)
Shoddy World Building: 0 (Total: 27)
Rapier Twit: 3 (Total: 42)
Our “Heroes”: 15 (Total: 92)
No Shit Sherlock: 0 (Total: 6)
Both Hands, Ma’am: 4 (Total: 60)
A Word from Our Sponsors: 0 (Total: 5)