Gee, I wonder what this chapter could possibility be about?
Much like the last few chapters, this one picks up shortly after the previous one ended. In this case, “shortly” means about five minutes. Somehow, Jace managed to flag down a taxi, and he and Clary are headed… somewhere. Jace is also yelling at the driver, because a guy whose job involves knowing the streets of New York City like the back of his hand couldn’t possibly be a better navigator than the mighty Jace Wayland.
(Yeah, it’s probably not that unrealistic, but I refuse to give this book that kind of credit.)
The driver, like any sensible person, completely ignores Jace, so he decides to pester someone who’ll pay attention to him. So he pulls out his cellphone and – wait, he has a cellphone?
Plot Hole: 1
I know it’s a small thing, but I’m so used to YA fiction where the mere existence of cellphones is in question. This raises a lot of questions. Questions like, why didn’t he call ahead back in chapter nine to say he was bringing Simon along?
Oh wait, I know the answer to that – Jace is a jerk.
Anyway, he calls up Alec and tells him to meet them for breakfast. Keep in mind, it’s gotta be pretty early – when Jace woke Clary up last chapter, it was five in the morning and, despite how it felt, I doubt everything that happened after that could have taken up more than an hour’s time. So I’ll be really generous and assume it’s around 6:30, if not earlier. Jace has just woken up his “best friend” at 6:30 in the morning so he’ll meet them for breakfast. All because apparently there’s nothing to eat back at the base, and Jace is too lazy to actually buy something and bring it back. It’s New York – pick up some bagels or something.
Yep. Jace is a jerk.
They come to a place called “Taki’s,” and it’s some little hole-in-the-wall bistro. And no, I’m not going to make the obvious joke – it’s New York, it’s not that surprising. Plus, Clary points out that the place looks like a hole, setting Jace off about how good the food is. But Clary’s more interested in, you know, the plot and starts asking about Magnus Bane. He’s a warlock, but Jace doesn’t know more than that (big surprise there).
Alec shows up and tells us where the rest of the crew is:
“Izzy’s on her way,” he said. “She’s bringing the mundane.”
“Simon? Where did he come from?” Jace asked.
“He showed up first thing this morning. Couldn’t stay away from Izzy, I guess. Pathetic.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, Alec, but you just got up at way-too-early o’clock to rush out and meet Jace for breakfast. How is that any less pathetic?
Also, could you please not refer to Simon as “the mundane?” I mean, I’ve seen people treat pets with more dignity than you give Simon.
Clary dosn’t take Alec insulting Simon all that well, and contemplates kicking Alec, but doesn’t actually do anything. And with that, I’m introducing yet another new count: the Bitch count. This will basically be for any time I get angry at Clary’s behavior.
I can already tell that this is going to get pretty high.
They head inside, Clary noting that the bouncer has dark-red skin, and she assumes that he’s a demon. And we get a quick description of some of the customers:
Several customers turned to look at her – a boy with blue spiky dreads was sitting next to a beautiful Indian girl with long black hair and gauzelike golden wings sprouting from her back.
Once again, this has the potential to be a good scene. Kinda like the cantina scene from the first Star Wars movie – show just how diverse this world that CC’s created really is. And then she ruins it by doing something totally nonsensical.
It turns out that the bouncer (who’s name is Clancy, btw, which logically means his skin should be brown rimshot) is an ifrit, which in this world means a warlock without magical powers. Now, this causes some problems. For those who don’t know, “ifrits are a real thing”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ifrit from Arabic folklore; they’re a type of jinn, and are made of fire. So how you go from that to just a guy with red skin, I have no idea.
Plus, it feels like CC’s saying that there are only six kinds of inhabitants of her secret world – Shadowhunters, demons, vampires, werewolves, faeries, and warlocks. That’s it. So that whole line about “all myths being true” is complete bull.
There’s mention of kelpies, selkies, and nixies, but since they’re only mentioned, I’m not counting them. Why are they mentioned? Clary wanted to know why there was raw fish on the menu. The same goes for the raw meat, only for werewolves.
And again, this is a missed opportunity. Aside from the restaurant having three types of blood on tap, nothing else Clary mentions is all that weird. Raw fish? That’s “sashimi.”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sashimi Raw meat? “Steak tartare.”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartare And yet this is treated as being weird. I don’t know whether I should blame this on Clary or CC, but either way it demonstrates a lack of cultural awareness.
Jace advises Clary to avoid the faerie food, since it tends to make humans act drunk and/or high. This gets Alec very enthusiastically telling a story that both Clary and Jace tune out. Now Clary doing this I can get – she’s the newcomer, so she doesn’t know who or what Alec’s referring to. But Jace? He and Alec are supposed to be
lovers bestest buddies, but Jace is behaving more like Alec is his annoying younger brother.
Isabelle finally shows up, Simon in tow, and promptly tells Clary to make room, and we get more disparaging of Isabelle for no apparent reason:
Isabelle’s hair tickled her face, smelling of some kind of vanilla perfume. Clary fought the urge to assneeze. She hated vanilla perfume. She’d never understood why some girls felt the need to smell like dessert.
I really, really don’t get the Isabelle-hate. Pretty much from the moment they started interacting, Clary’s been hostile and demeaning of Isabelle. The girl loans Clary some of her own clothes, and all she can think about is how slutty they look. Of the three principle Shadowhunters (not including Hodge), Isabelle’s been the nicest so far. So why is it that Clary/CC is constantly bashing her?
Or is CC being like most YA Paranormal Whatsit authors, and using Isabelle as a stand-in for all the girls that were mean to her in high school?
Right, sporking now, speculating about author hold-ups later.
Isabelle asks Clary and Jace what they learned from the Silent Brothers. Jace starts to answer, but then Alec goes all paranoid on him. And we get more of CC’s special brand of “comedy.”
“This place is full of Downworlders. You know that. I think you should try to keep the details of our investigation secret.”
“_Investigation?_” Isabelle laughed. “Now we’re detectives? Maybe we should have code names.”
“Good idea,” said Jace. “I’ll shall be Hotschaft Von Hugenstein.”
Rapier Twit: 1
Oh, the problems with this.
First: Alec, why should it matter that the restaurant is full of Downworlders? Valentine was trying to kill them, remember? If anything, I’d think they’d be pretty eager to help track him down. Plus, by hiding this information it kinda makes it look like you’re protecting him, which would only make things worse.
Second: Isabelle, honey, you’ve confused detectives with spies. Also, you guys make the gang from Scoobie-Doo look like Sherlock Holmes. You had to be told what Valentine intended to do with the MacGuffin Cup, even though it should have been obvious, since you guys know what the cup is used for.
Finally: CC, having a character spout off some random German-sounding stuff isn’t inherently funny. Yes, it sounds weird, but that’s it. And once again, it’s really hard for me to take this situation seriously when you’re characters are busy cracking jokes. I get that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a big influence on your writing style, I do. And yes, the Scoobies would crack jokes, but not when things needed to be taken seriously.
Anyway, the waitress comes over (she’s part faerie or something) and takes their order, and she and Jace flirt a bit. When she leaves, he goes after her, she swoons into his arms, and they go off to make-out for a bit. Our hero, everyone – putting the safety of the world on hold for a booty-call.
Now, I’m sure that this is supposed to make Jace look all suave or something, but it really just makes him look shallow. That impression is reinforced by Alec and Isabelle’s comments about it:
Alec looked at her. “Do you think he means it? That he likes her, I mean.”
Isabelle shrugged. “She’s a Downworlder,” she said, as if that explained everything.
And this is just more of that Shadowhunter racist/classist mentality that CC refuses to actually address. It’s perfectly acceptable for Jace to go out and “slum it” with a Downworlder, but there’s no possible way that he’d actually be in a serious, committed relationship with one. As proof, I give you the conversation resulting from Isabelle’s comment:
“So they’re good enough to let live, good enough to make food for you, good enough to flirt with – but not really good enough? I mean, not as good as people.”
Isabelle and Alec looked at her as if she were speaking Urdu. “Different from people,” said Alec finally.
It doesn’t help when Jace comes back to offer his two cents. And for once, I’m going to spork this line by line.
“It’s not one-way,” he said. “We may not always like Downworlders, but they don’t always like us either.
Well, considering that you, you know, kill them, you can hardly blame them. So really, most of the blame falls on you guys.
A few hundred years of the Accords can’t wipe out a thousand years of hostility.”
First, you do know that there’s only ten centuries in a thousand years, right? So, how long have the Accords been around? Two-hundred years? Three? Five? You’d think after that long (especially considering that the Shadowhunters have only existed for a thousand years), things would be relatively friendly.
“I’m sure she doesn’t know what the Accords are,” Isabelle said around her spoon.
That’s a good point, Isabelle! Why not explain them?
“I do, actually,” Clary said.
No, you don’t, because no one’s bothered to explain them to you, beyond the very basics.
“I don’t,” said Simon.
Another good point! Why doesn’t someone explain the Accords to Simon?
“Yes, but nobody cares what you know.” Jace examined a fry before biting into it.
Fuck you, Jace. Simon’s asking a perfectly valid question, so why do you have to be a dick about it?
“I enjoy the company of certain Downworlders at certain times and places. But we don’t get invited to the same parties.”
And that’s it. That’s all the explanation about Shadowhunter-Downworlder relations we’re going to get. No explanation about the all-important Accords, no questioning whether the current status of Shadowhunter-Downworlder is good or bad, nothing.
Oh, but we do get something else – a forced way to get the plot moving again. Jace’s use of the word “parties” reminds Isabelle of something. She asks for the name again and pulls out a flier she got waaay back in chapter one, at the club. It’s an invite to a party hosted by one Magnus the Magnificent Warlock, the High Warlock of Brooklyn.
How exactly does one become a “High Warlock?” Do you get elected? Appointed? Or is it just something Mr. Bane made up to sound impressive?
It’s sad that I’m more interested in a character we’ve never met than any of the main cast.
Now, I have mixed feelings about this particular plot-twist. While it’s a nice Chekov’s gun (I remember mention of someone handing out fliers back in chapter one), it also raises some questions. Questions like, why is a guy who’s obviously pretty big in the supernatural society advertising his party at a random club? Because, as we’ll soon see, this party isn’t exactly safe for mundanes. Is Bane trying to cause an incident? Or do the Shadowhunters only care when mundanes get killed?
Scene break and we’re back at the Institute. Jace and Alec promptly disappear into the weapons room (gee, that’s kinda dripping innuendo) while Isabelle plans to take Simon to Central Park and show him some faerie circles (and that’s gushing innuendo). Simon asks if Clary wants to come along (dude, come on, at least wait a little while before going for a threesome) and this pisses her off, and she turns the offer down.
Honestly, she’d just kill the mood, Simon. Bringing a friend along on a date? How stupid are you? I mean, you seem to have a pretty good thing going with Isabelle. Why are you so set on ruining it?
Clary wanders around for a while and eventually ends up in the library. She pokes around in Hodge’s
copy of Mein Kampf Circle of Raziel rulebook and finds a photo of the Order of the Phoenix Circle stuck inside. She immediately recognizes her mom, because like most YA Paranormal Whatever protagonists, she’s an exact photocopy of her same-gender parent. She is, of course, draped over a guy, which gets Clary thinking about how weird it is to think about her mom being involved with someone other than her dad.
Hodge pops up from nowhere and starts identifying the people in the photo – the guy Clary’s mom is clinging to is obviously Valentine, along with a young Hodge, Luke, the Lightwoods, and Jace’s dad, Michael Wayland. Clary points out that Jace doesn’t look at all like his dad. Hodge hand waves this by saying that he takes after his mother. Who is conveniently the only parent of our group of young Shadowhunters that’s not in the photo.
I’ll just ignore the fact that Jace also happens to look a lot like Valentine. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.
Clary still doesn’t get how or why her mom would be involved with something like the Circle, and Hodge has to explain that, oddly enough, some Shadowhunters don’t really like the whole idea of not hunting Downworlders. Gee, I would never have guessed. And that Valentine was also super patriotic. And since Clary has the attention span of a hyperactive chipmunk, she latches onto why Shadowhunters all have such a hard-on for the place. He gives some spiel about how it’s the one place where Shadowhunters “can be their true selves, a place where there is no need for hiding or glamour.”
Oh, so Shadowhunters are like superheroes, only racist. Now it all makes sense.
And once again, Clary decides to jump to another topic. This time, it’s about her dream – namely, whether they have dances in Idris. And they do, on a weekly basis. Because that was just so damn important to find out.
Clary heads out, but asks one more question before leaving. Though this one is actually semi-pertinent. Hodge heard back from Shadowhunter high command, and they are sending some guys to investigate, but they won’t be coming to the Institute because they’re pretty sure Valentine is keeping tabs on the place. It might also have something to do with the fact that one of his former minions lives there, but that’s hardly something they’d just come out and say.
And just before leaving so the scene can end, Clary asks for something to help her sleep. She claims that she “[keeps] thinking too much.” I sincerely doubt that her problem is that she’s “thinking too much.”
After a quick scene break, Clary gets her potion and heads back to her room.
Random Scene Break: 1
She heads inside and finds none other than Jace waiting inside. And he’s flipping through Clary’s sketchbook. The guy clearly has no understanding of personal space. Why do so many tween girls seem to find this attractive?
Clary drops the potion in surprise, and is more upset by this than the fact that Jace is again in her room without her permission, and Jace is more apologetic about making Clary spill her sleep aid than being caught peeking through her stuff. But he has a solution:
“If only Simon were here. He could probably bore you to sleep.”
Clary was in no mood to defend Simon.
Rapier Twit: 2
To quote Gurney Hallek, “Mood’s a thing for cattle or making love or playing the baliset.” You could at least groan at Jace’s comment.
Clary’s ADD kicks in and they start talking about her sketchbook, which she describes as a sort-of visual diary. Which Jace of course brings back around to himself:
Jace looked wounded. “A diary with no drawings of me in it? Where are the torrid fantasies? The romance novel covers? The-”
“Do all the girls you meet fall in love with you?” Clary asked quietly.
The question seemed to deflate him, like a pin popping a balloon. “It’s not love,” he said after a moment. “At least-”
“You could try not being charming all the time,” Clary said.
Um, I’m sorry, are we talking about the same Jace?
It’s not just breaking the “show, don’t tell” rule, it’s the crappy writer gimmick of “show, and tell the opposite.” I can claim that the sky is green and grass is blue, but that doesn’t make it true.
In a rare moment of vaguely human-like behavior, Jace offers to tell Clary a bedtime story to lull her to sleep.
I’ll give you guys the short version. A boy gets a pet falcon from his dad, and gets told to train it. The boy takes care of the bird, and eventually tames it. He shows it to his dad, and the dad promptly kills it, essentially saying that the boy made the bird soft. Jace says the moral of the story is something about how love is ultimately destructive.
Clary’s reaction is actually believable, if understated:
“That’s an awful story,” she said indignantly.
Is it ironic that Clary said that, or just meta?
Jace, being a psychopath, doesn’t get why Clary thinks that, so she points out everything wrong with it (how meta) – namely that the father’s horrible and an abusive parent.
We get a very purple description of how the light looks on Jace’s face
Both Hands, Ma’am: 1
before he tries to defend his story. He argues that the father was trying to teach his son to be tough and inflexible. Clary points out that being inflexible makes you more likely to break, and Jace comes back with this brilliant retort:
“Not if you’re strong enough.”
Jace leaves, and it’s at this moment that Clary remembers him mentioning that his dad once gave him a falcon, and only now considers the possibility that the boy in the story was him before passing out.
No Shit Sherlock: 1
Can’t say I blame her for passing out. Jace’s story was stupid and boring. Just like Jace seems to think Simon is. Is that irony, or just a coincidence?
When are we going to get back to the plot, anyway?
Another scene break, and Clary’s being shaken awake by someone. Clary sits up too fast and bonks said someone in the head.
Rapier Twit: 3
The someone for some reason feels the need to point out that Clary bonked them in the head
No Shit Sherlock: 2
and we find out that the someone is Isabelle. Does no one in this place understand the concept of personal space?
CC then decides to give us an in-depth description of how Isabelle looks:
She seemed to shimmer in the lamplight – she was wearing a long silvery skirt and a sequined top, and her nails were painted like glittering coins. Strands of silver beads were caught in her dark hair. She looked like a moon goddess. Clary hated her.
Why? Because she looks pretty? How petty can you get?
Clary bitches a bit about Isabelle leaning over her, and asks what Isabelle wants. She explains that it’s almost time for them to go to the party, so she needs to get dressed. Clary says she wasn’t going to change, but Isabelle insists. Clary tries to weasel out of it by pointing out that she doesn’t have any nice clothes, so Isabelle says she’ll let Clary borrow some of her stuff. Clary tries to turn down the offer, and we get this from Isabelle:
Isabelle’s smile was as glittering as her nails. “I insist.”
Is this supposed to come across as vaguely sinister? I know that sort of thing has been done for comedy, but for that to work we actually have to know the character is kinda fashion-focused. We know almost nothing about Isabelle, so this feels like forced characterization on CC’s part.
Scene break, and we’re in Isabelle’s room
Random Scene Break: 2
Clary’s still trying to get out of this, insisting that she’d prefer her own clothes. And Isabelle’s response is actually pretty good:
“Well, you can’t,” Isabelle said. “You look about eight years old, and worse, you look like a mundane.”
Now, I’m wouldn’t be surprised if this was intended to make Isabelle sound like a Mean Girl Fashionista, but since I actually kinda like Isabelle, I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt.
We get a description of Isabelle’s room, and find out that she painted it herself, which I think is a nice detail. Isabelle tosses Clary some article of clothing that get’s referred to as a dress. I’ll explain the fallacy of that it a minute. She comes out to find Isabelle putting on toe rings and anklets. Isabelle makes a comment about how Clary’s lucky to be flat-chested, as she can’t wear that “dress” without a bra. Clary complains that it’s too short. Wait for it. Isabelle insists its fine, and tosses Clary some boots and tights.
And then the ball drops:
“If it’s this short on me, how short must it be on you?” she mused aloud to Isabelle.
Isabelle grinned. “On me it’s a shirt.”
Isabelle, if it’s a shirt on you, then it’s a shirt on Clary. Just because Clary doesn’t quite possess your “assets” doesn’t change what that particular article of clothing is. Ladies, tell me if I’m wrong.
God, at least find her a pair of shorts or something.
Clary ignores this and puts on the tights and boots. Isabelle gets to work fixing Clary’s hair, and apropos of nothing, Clary asks if Alec is gay. And instead of telling her something like, “that’s personal,” or “that’s something you should ask Alec,” Isabelle almost breaks down in tears.
It turns out that, yes, Alec is gay, and Isabelle insists that Clary can’t tell anyone, especially Jace. She doesn’t say why, but I think we can guess. Let’s just say that the term “‘parabatai‘”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_Band_of_Thebes#Composition and his general treatment of Clary make a lot more sense.
Why is this a big deal? Well remember, culturally speaking, the Shadowhunters are only up to the mundane world of the 1980s at best. There’s no actual “no gays aloud” rule (unlike marrying mundanes, I might mention), but a lot of the older Shadowhunters tend to favor keeping that sort of thing a deep, deep secret.
Clary agrees to keep Alec’s secret, and asks if Isabelle’s going to be bringing any weapons. So Isabelle shows of her anklets – one’s made of electrum (good against demons, for some inexplicable reason), and the other is blessed iron (for vampires and faeries). There’s an exchange about demon hunting and fashion going together, and the scene ends.
After the scene break, we’re meeting back up with the rest of the crew. During the break, Clary picked up her backpack for some inexplicable reason. Probably so CC has an excuse for her to have it. Despite Isabelle’s comments about Clary’s outfit from before, the only one of the guys to get any description of his clothing is Simon, which consists of changing his pants and turning his shirt inside out. Because that won’t look stupid at all.
Isabelle and Clary come down the stairs, and it’s the typical post-makeover scene. You’ve seen it before, you know how it goes.
Oh, wait, I spoke too soon – we do get more description of how the guys are dressed:
Even half in demon hunter clothes, Clary thought, [Simon] looked like the sort of boy who’d come over to your house to pick you up for a date and be polite to your parents and nice to your pets.
Jace , on the other hand, looked like the sort of boy who’d come over to your house and burn it down for kicks.
Um, CC, I don’t know if you realized this, but you pretty much came out and admitted that Jace is a psychopath. And most people don’t find that particularly attractive. So, fail.
Jace “unhitches” from the wall and complements Clary’s dress/shirt.
Weird Word Choice: 1
That word still looks stupid to me.
Jace then decides that the one thing that would make Clary’s ensemble perfect would be a weapon, so he gives her a dagger. Which gets a bit of a purple description.
Clary points out that she has no idea how to use the thing, but Jace says she’ll be fine because it’s “in [her] blood.” Do I even need to point out how stupid that is?
Isabelle says that she can loan Clary a thigh sheath, but Simon strongly disapproves. Clary shoots him a nasty look (understandable, but why do I think she’d agree if Jace said the same?), but turns the offer down, sticking the dagger into her backpack. Because that’s where you should keep your weapons – safely tucked away where you can’t easily get to them.
Jace then pulls out the magic-hairpins keeping Clary’s hair in place, completely undoing all of Isabelle’s work, and the chapter ends.
So, what was the point of this chapter, anyway? Most of it’s just pointless padding. Of everything that happened, only one is of any real importance to the plot – Clary getting tat old photo. The breakfast scene? Padding, with a pinch of info dumping. Jace’s little bedtime story? Pointless padding. Isabelle’s make-over? Padding, with a touch of CC trying to be “edgy” by including a gay character.
Let’s take a closer look at those last two points, shall we? This is a particularly egregious bit of padding, because I remember reading somewhere that that bit was more-or-less copied directly from one of CC’s Draco Trilogy fics. And while it’s certainly not bad writing, it doesn’t really belong here. It doesn’t do a great job of informing Jace’s character, which is probably what it was intended to do. All we learn is that Jace’s dad was kinda crazy, which at best explains why Jace is such a violent sociopath. He’s not a person, he’s a weapon.
Now, this could be an interesting plot – Jace is great at killing things, but not much else. Clary comes along and helps him develop into a fully realized person. Unfortunately, CC is too enamored of her psychotic Draco clone to notice how utterly broken he is as a person.
On to the make-over scene, specifically the big reveal about Alec being gay. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against gay characters. Heck, one of my favorite characters is Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. He’s a vampire, and a flamingly gay one at that (though some of it might be that the books are set in the Victorian era). But here’s the thing – Akeldama being gay isn’t his sole defining characteristic. Yes, he’s gay, but he’s also one of the most influential vampires in London, if not the entire British Empire, and he heads one of, if not the most wide-spread and efficient information gathering organizations in London. Oh, and he has a sort of fetish for technology.
What’s there to Alec? Well, he’s a Shadowhunter, but so are Jace and Isabelle. He’s Jace’s partner, but given how Jace treats him, that bond doesn’t seem to really mean anything to Jace. Alec being gay is about the only thing that differentiates him from the other characters. Beyond that, he’s a dark-haired clone of Jace. And as near as I can tell, CC only made Alec gay is because she knows her fanbase, and that at least a portion of her target audience is into yaoi.
Oh, and before I finish up, I should point out hat the chapter’s title was entirely pointless – Bane is discussed, but only briefly. Again, CC doesn’t seem to understand how naming chapters should work. She should have stuck with just numbering them.
Weird Word Choice: 1 (Total 53)
Rapier Twit: 3 (Total 24)
No Shit Sherlock: 1 (Total 19)
Plot Hole: 1 (Total 44)
Random Scene Break: 2 (Total 6)
Both Hands, Ma’am: 1 (Total 7)
Bitch: 5 (Total 5)