Chapter nine begins about ten seconds after the end of the last chapter, so we get to start off with one of these:
Random Scene Break: 1
That’s something I’ve noticed about CC’s writing – she seems to think more in a film/television format, rather than a book format: she skipped over Clary explaining everything to Simon, and then ended the last chapter with Jace’s big end-of-episode reveal. And while it all makes sense from a dramatic perspective, here’s why it’s random – they only spend about ten seconds dwelling on this before they leave.
Yep. We get a paragraph of Clary’s reaction, and then they’re outside discussing where they’re going. Jace explains that they’re going to hop on the subway. Simon expresses disbelief at this. Jace rightly points out that riding the subway is a lot faster than driving, but Simon’s disappointed:
“I thought it’d be something cooler, like a van with ‘Death to Demons’ painted on the outside, or…”
Dammit Simon, what’s wrong with you? Oh, wait, I know what’s wrong – CC sucked away all your awesomeness so you wouldn’t overshadow Jace. And it make you look really stupid in the process.
Short digression here – I’ve haven’t spent a great amount of time in New York, but from my limited experience, I can confirm that New York City is not a car-friendly city. The streets are narrow and crowded, and finding a place to park is difficult at best. Hence why it would make sense for Jace and the other Shadowhunters to use the subway in preference to a car. That’s a good bit of world-building.
But this scene really makes Simon look stupid since, as someone who has presumably lived in New York for most of his life, he should know that driving a car around in the city is a dumb idea.
Back to the scene. For once, Jace isn’t a rude asshole, and doesn’t interrupt Simon. This isn’t because he’s learned some manners, oh no – it’s because he’s probably contemplating gutting Simon like a very annoying fish. The narration (i.e. Clary) doesn’t say so, instead describing him as “scary-calm” in the most purple way possible. Clary then decides to intervene before Jace snaps, but being the protagonist of a YA Paranormal Romance, does so in such a way as to favor her Designated Love Interest (who she just met less than a week ago, remember) over that of her supposed “best friend”.
Simon takes this about as well as expected, but shuts up nonetheless. As they move towards the nearest subway station, Clary describes the lights reflecting off Jace’s hair as looking like a halo, inspiring me to make a new count:
Both Hands, Ma’am: 1
This will be for any time that any part of Jace is described in such a way that it’s blatantly obvious that it’s only there for CC and her fans to wank over.
As they head down the street, Clary wonders whether the fact that she’s glad that her mother’s kidnappers also killed Jace’s father is a bad thing, because it means she gets to spend more time with Jace.
Our heroine, ladies and gentlemen. Who cares that her mother’s been kidnapped and is in a coma, so long as she gets to hang out with a hot guy!
That gif is surprisingly appropriate, given the author of this drek.
And then we get another scene break.
Random Scene Break: 2
Yeah. All of that – nine paragraphs, amounting to maybe a page worth of text – could have been part of the previous chapter. The only reason for it not being there is because Jace’s little “revelation” seemed like such a perfectly dramatic thing to end a chapter on.
When we come back from the commercial break, the trio is back at Shadowhunter Regional HQ, and Simon is again astonished. This time it’s at the fact that Jace & co. live in a church. Because apparently neither Clary nor Jace bothered to explain that, yes, Shadowhunter HQ is inside an old, abandoned church. Evidently only things the audience has seen can be explained off-screen. I guess they didn’t talk, like, at all between leaving Luke’s place and getting here.
Jace pulls out a key – which gets a whole flowery sentence to explain that it’s old – and unlocks the door, explaining to Simon that, “We find it useful to inhabit hallowed ground.”
What are you, the fucking Highlander? Why? The demons you fight have no real religious origin, so why would they be bothered by things like hallowed ground? And what qualifies as “hallowed ground” in the first place? Is it like and Ogier stedding)#Steddings from Wheel of Time, where it’s always safe, even if the place itself gets destroyed? Or does it have to be used regularly? Does it just have to be recognized as a sacred place? Explain, please!
Plot Hole: 1
Despite Jace’s “explanation,” Simon is still skeptical. Then we get a bit of good writing, which CC ruins by tacking on a stupid joke:
Clary let her mind relax. She imagined herself taking one of her mother’s turpentine rags and dabbing at the view in front of her, cleaning away the glamour as if it were old paint.
There it was: the true vision, glowing through the false one like light through dark glass. She saw the soaring spires of the cathedral, the dull gleam of the leaded windows, the brass plate fixed to the stone wall beside the door, the Institute’s name etched into it. She held the vision for a moment before letting it go almost with a sigh.
“It’s a glamour, Simon,” she said. “It doesn’t really look like this.”
“If this is your idea of glamour, I’m having second thoughts about letting you make me over.”
Rapier Twit: 1
You had me for a minute there, CC. But then you had to add a bit of “humor.” Did you do that yourself, or did someone tell you to put that there?
Also, I’m tempted to add a Plot Hole here for Simon’s response. You’d think that, given how he was going on and on about D&D last chapter, he’d be aware of the use of “glamour” in relation to magic, i.e. illusions. Also that he may have heard Clary’s second sentence. Maybe he has a hearing problem.
Whatever. Jace opens the door, and gives Simon this whole condescending spiel about how he should feel honored at being allowed inside, what with him being a
filthy muggle mundane and all. Thankfully for us, Simon seems to have gotten his grove back, and is having none of Jace’s crap, insulting the place’s smell. Clary tries to excuse his embarrassing behavior (isn’t she such a wonderful friend?), saying that he doesn’t have any kind of mental filter, and says whatever pops into his head. And once again, Simon pulls out another quip:
“Filters are for cigarettes and coffee,” Simon muttered under his breath as they went inside. “Two things I could use right now, incidentally.”
CC, why don’t you just let Simon make all the jokes? I think everyone would be happier that way.
This prompts Clary to think about coffee, leading to her reminiscing about her mom making coffee and Luke bringing breakfast. Interesting how she needs prompting to remember that her mother exists. What a wonderful, loving daughter she is.
They hop on the elevator, and meet the cat, Church, at the top. Jace, knowing that the cat is certainly smarter than he is, asks it where Alec and Hodge are, and all three humans fall in behind the feline. Simon comments that he doesn’t like cats, prompting Jace to say this:
“It’s unlikely,” Jace said, “knowing Church, that he likes you either.”
Rapier Twit: 2
Because that’s just not all that funny, and
Plot Hole: 2
Because so far, this cat hasn’t struck me as particularly unsociable. Church isn’t exactly Greebo, where it’s pretty damn obvious that he’s perfectly willing to claw your face off if you bother him.
They continue down the hall, and Simon asks how many people live there. Clary, donning the tiara of the Exposition Fairy, explains what the Institute is for, because she’s such an expert on the place, what with having spent all of four days there, and three of them unconscious at that. She also doesn’t answer Simon’s question, which aggravates him. And since Clary couldn’t answer such a simple question, I will – right now, there are four people living there, but there’s usually between five and seven. So, no, they don’t need nearly as much space as they have.
Also, for being a “research facility,” there seems to be remarkably little research going on. And no, I don’t think Jace trying to figure out how many things he can kill in a minute qualifies as “research.”
Plot Hole: 3
Clary calms Simon down, asking him to trust her. He says he does, but he doesn’t trust Jace, demonstrating that he at least has a functional brain. But Clary asks him to try, explaining that Jace is her best hope of finding her mother. And it has absolutely nothing to do with her getting all hot n’ bothered just looking at him, no sir. Still, Simon doesn’t like the Institute, because it just feels off.
This prompts Clary to remember how she felt when she woke up there (you know, a few hours ago), and how everything felt, “both alien and familiar at the same time.”
Plot Hole: 4
That’s funny, I got the impression that she was just confused.
Clary says that Simon doesn’t have to stay with her, and we finally get an explanation as to what happened during the trip here – Jace and Clary argued over whether they should bring Simon with them to the Institute, with Clary arguing that he might know something useful, what with Simon hanging out in Luke’s bushes for the past three days. I guess Jace isn’t all that good at the whole “investigation” thing.
But Simon says that, yes, he does have to stay with Clary, for reasons that would be obvious to all but the most oblivious of people. So of course, Clary doesn’t suspect a thing.
But enough of that – we have stupid padding and bad comedy to get to!
They come into the kitchen, where Isabelle is busy making home-made soup. The ingredients for said soup include: tomatoes, garlic, onions, cheese, olives, peanuts, and an entire fish. No, I have no idea what kind of soup requires those particular ingredients, nor do I want to.
Isabelle turns around and is flabbergasted that Jace brought “another mundie” into the Institute, and I can’t help but see the potentially racist undertones of that word. Why am I supposed to like these people again?
Simon tries to stand up for his basic human rights, but gets ignored because he’s a “mundie”. Isabelle gets similar treatment from Jace, who’s mad at the cat. And Church, much to my amusement, could not give less of a shit about Jace’s opinion.
You know, that cat’s starting to grow on me. I mean, he’s not Mister, but he isn’t half bad.
Isabelle’s still pissed about Jace bringing Simon, but Jace deflects this by mentioning seeing the two red cloaks in Luke’s place.
Clary, meanwhile, is wondering about the soup. Can’t say I blame her. She’s brought out of this by noticing that Simon is ogling Isabelle like a character in a Hannah-Barbara cartoon. This causes her to shift into catty-bitch mode, and she contemplates dumping the aforementioned soup on Isabelle.
Clary, what the hell is wrong with you? There’s two problems with your response here:
First, you are not Simon’s girlfriend. He very clearly would like you to be, but until you’re actually in a non-platonic relationship with him, you have no right to get upset at him looking at another girl. It’s the same as with the blonde at the coffee shop – just because you aren’t interested in Simon doesn’t mean no one else should be, or that he should be forced to remain celibate.
Second, why are you so antagonistic towards Isabelle? You’ve only known her for a day, but you’ve already decided that she’s your rival or something. Is it because she snagged Blue-hair away back in chapter one? Because I believe we quickly established that he was actually pretty dangerous, and would probably have shanked you in the alley while you were clumsily trying to make-out. So really, she did you a favor.
Back in the world of semi-plot related stuff, Jace and Isabelle have moved from Simon’s presence to the aforementioned bad comedy. Jace complains that Church is getting fat when Isabelle feeds the cat a bit of fish, which leads to Isabelle complaining that no one else eats her cooking, to which Jace makes a quip about Isabelle being a bad cook, she gets pissed, and Jace makes a half-hearted attempt to cover his ass.
Rapier Twit: 4
Double count for Jace’s comment about Isabelle’s cooking and the response to said comment.
This is the sort of thing I expect to see on a stupid sit-com. Here it feels awkward and forced.
Don’t get me wrong, juxtaposing the extraordinary with the mundane can be kinda funny. For example, in one episode of the Justice League animated series, Flash and another member of the Green Lantern Corps are poking around the apartment of John Stewart, Earth’s Green Lantern. While there, it’s revealed that Stewart’s favorite movie is Old Yeller. There’s nothing inherently funny about this; the humor comes from the context.
In this situation, there is no context. Why is it funny that Isabelle is a bad cook? Because she’s a girl? What?
Back to the “comedy.” Jace goes to the fridge to get something to eat. Clary’s pissed, probably because she’s no longer the center of attention, and goes after him. Then, because evidently the cooking bit wasn’t enough, we get to see the inside of the fridge:
The inside of the fridge was filled with milk cartons whose expiration dates reached back several weeks, and plastic Tupperware containers labeled with masking tape lettered in red ink: HODGE’S. DO NOT EAT.
“Wow, he’s like a crazy roommate,” Clary observed.
Rapier Twit: 5
Why? Just… why? Why should I view this as weird? Why should I find this funny? Why did CC decide to include this scene? Why does she continue to put the plot on hold for stupid comedy? Why?!
Okay, moving on. More food talk, and Clary of all people reminds us that, hey, weren’t we going to meet with the Generic Mentor Figure? Jace practically has to be dragged from the room because he’s just that lazy.
Meanwhile, Simon has actually been hitting it off with Isabelle, unintended racial remarks aside. Wow. It’s amazing what he can accomplish when Clary isn’t “helping” him. But, being a good friend, when he sees Clary leaving, he asks where she’s going. Isabelle asks if Jace is going to tell Hodge about the red cloaks, but he’s ambivalent. But before the plot train can get moving again, we get one last serving of what CC thinks is comedy:
[Isabelle] shrugged. “All right. Are you going to come back? Do you want any soup?”
“No,” said Jace.
“Do you think Hodge will want any soup?”
“No on wants any soup.”
“I want some soup,” Simon said.
“No, you don’t,” said Jace. “You just want to sleep with Isabelle.”
Simon was appalled. “That is not true.”
“How flattering,” Isabelle murmured into the soup, but she was smirking.
“Oh, yes it is,” said Jace. “Go ahead and ask her – then she can turn you down and the rest of us can get on with our lives while you fester in miserable humiliation.” He snapped his fingers. “Hurry up, mundie boy, we’ve got work to do.”
I’m not going to give that a count, because that rapidly shifted from Bad Comedy to Bad Drama. And it’s scenes like this, where Jace is just such an overwhelming asshole that really make me wonder how anyone can be attracted to him. Yes, he’s hot, but after talking to him for five minutes, I guarantee you’ll want to break his nose.
And so what if Simon’s interested in Isabelle? That has nothing to do with you, much like it has nothing to do with Clary. You know who it does concern? Simon and Isabelle. Who knows? Maybe Isabelle’s interested in Simon – so far, he’s been more of a gentleman than you, Jace, no matter how much more physically attractive you are. At least he’s willing to put some effort into the relationship first; you apparently expect any girl to get on her knees and start blowing you when you snap your fingers.
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: Fuck you, Jace.
And either the sheer obviousness of Jace acting like an asshole was just so damn obvious that even Clary, the densest girl this side of Bella Swan couldn’t ignore it, or someone pointed out to CC that Jace was being an exceptionally insensitive jerk.
Well, either that or CC planed for this to happen, but what are the chances of that?
So, Clary snaps at Jace, who snaps right back before storming out. Clary, of course, goes after him, while Simon wisely goes “Fuck this” and decides to stay in the kitchen, soothing his possibly injured ego with crappy soup and good company.
Clary catches up with Jace, and we get the following exchange:
Clary frowned at him. “Why are you always such an asshat?”
“An asshat?” Jace looked as if he were about to laugh.
“What you said to Simon-”
“I was trying to save him some pain. Isabelle will cut out his heart and walk all over it in high-heeled boots. That’s what she does to boys like that.”
And I’m sure the fans will point to this as proof that Jace isn’t such a bad guy – see, he’s not a jerk, he’s trying to save Simon from getting his feelings hurt! That doesn’t make his behavior any better though, because he was still being a jackass. Good intentions aren’t enough to negate bad behavior. It’s really not helped by the fact that he never apologizes for his behavior – in fact, Clary apologizes to him. Look:
He looked at her. “What?”
“I’m sorry. For snapping at you.”
He chuckled. “Which time?”
“You snapped at me, too, you know.”
“I know,” he said, surprising her. “There’s something about you that’s so-”
Yes, they’re obviously meant for each other. And notice that Jace still hasn’t apologized for his behavior. Which, as I’m sure I’ve already mentioned, is one of the markers for psychopathy. Why is it that so many Designated Love Interests have a lot of those traits?
They talk some more, because apparently CC still hasn’t padded this chapter out enough, discussing Isabelle’s cooking skills, or rather lack thereof. As it turns out, Isabelle’s mother, Maryse, is actually a great cook. The reason she didn’t teach her daughter to cook is because she was part of the first generation of women able to fully participate as a Shadowhunter, namely actually hunting demons and such. Seems that until relatively recently, they were largely relegated to doing all the support work. Isabelle’s mom didn’t teach her how to cook because she was afraid Isabelle would be told to “stay in the kitchen”
That explains so much – socially, the Shadowhunters were an incredibly conservative bunch until about 30-40 years ago. No wonder the word “mundane” feels like an ethnic slur.
This still doesn’t explain why Isabelle apparently does the cooking while her mother’s away, though. I mean, what, are Jace, Alec, and Hodge too ‘manly’ to learn to cook?
So, after twelve pages (according to my Kindle, anyway), Clary and Jace finally find Hodge – turns out he was hanging out in the greenhouse. When they enter, we get a good, if somewhat purple description of how the place smells:
Clary exhaled. “It smells like…” Springtime, she thought, before the heat comes and crushes the leaves into pulp and withers the petals off the flowers.
It’s bits like this that convince me that, despite my misgivings, CC is a decent writer. If she weren’t so enamored with her characters, she might be a good one. Well, one can dream…
So, Hodge is chillin’ in the greenhouse, and Jace tells him about all that’s happened since they left back in chapter six. And unlike with Simon, we don’t get a scene break. Go figure.
We get back to the dialogue when Jace tells Hodge about the red cloaks at Luke’s place (including Luke’s real name, Lucian Greymark, which I got wrong last time). When Hodge hears their names, he goes all dramatic:
“It is as I feared,” he said, half to himself. “The Circle is rising again.”
PAHAHAHA!! Oh my gods, are you kidding me? I can’t wait to see that in the movie – there’s no way anyone’s going to be able to take that line seriously.
Also, I’m going to give it one of these:
Weird Word Choice: 1
Because honestly, what kind of person names their evil organization “the Circle”? Even semi-benign organizations have names that mean something – for example, the real name of the Serbian nationalist group commonly called The Black Hand) was “Unification or Death,” and the term “Bolshevik”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolshevik comes from the Russian word for “majority.” Heck, if you wanted to use “the Circle,” could you at least give me a little more? Like, say, the Circle of the Black Thorn from the last season of Angel – at least that sounds nasty. But just “the Circle”? What, are they really into geometry or something?
Clary is just as confused as I am, but for different reasons, so Hodge decides to explain stuff.
We get another scene break, and we’re in the
exposition pit library. While I appreciate skipping the walk, I have to wonder why Hodge had to wait until they got to the library. What, does he need to sit in his Comfy Chair? So, yeah, I’m counting it.
Random Scene Break: 3
Hodge pulls out an old book and reads the following from it:
“I hereby render unconditional obedience to the Circle and its principles… I will be ready to risk my life at any time for the Circle, in order to insure the purity of the bloodlines of Idris, and for the mortal world with whose safety we are charged.”
According to Hodge, this is the oath of loyalty to the Circle of Raziel. Clary’s unnerved by it, saying they sound a bit fascist. Which, as it turns out, they are:
“They were a group,” [Hodge] said slowly, “of Shadowhunters, led by Valentine, dedicated to wiping out all Downworlders and returning the world to a ‘purer’ state. Their plan was to wait for the Downworlders to arrive at Idris to sign the Accords […] They planned to slaughter them all, unarmed and defenseless. This terrible act, they thought, would spark off a war between humans and Downworlders – one they intended to win.”
So yeah, the bad guys are essentially Nazis. Or at least, they’re supposed to come across that way. Honestly, they just sound more pro-active than the rest of the Shadowhunters – going after the monsters instead of waiting for them to break the rules. If nothing else, they seem to want to actively protect non-Shadowhunters, rather than just sneering at them. I mean, we can argue about this going into Van Helsing Hate Crimes territory, but at least they’d be doing their job – you know, protecting the non-magical people?
Since this situation doesn’t involve killing anything, Jace’s brain can actually focus on what’s going on, and he asks the obvious question – why, exactly, does Hodge have a copy of a loyalty oath to a quasi-fascist organization?
The answer? Hodge helped write it!
But Hodge manages to top that revelation, because he says that Clary’s mom was too. Clary protests this, but Hodge has an iron-clad reason for this – Clary’s mom was Valentine’s wife!
(There certainly have been a lot of Dramatic Reveals with the past two chapters, haven’t there?)
And that ends the chapter, along with Part 1.
Honestly, this chapter is at least 70% padding. It’s sixteen Kindle pages long, and only the very beginning and the very end do anything to progress the plot, and the first bit could have been tacked-on to the end of the previous chapter. That whole scene with Isabelle in the kitchen served only three purposes – pad out the word count, provide an excuse to get rid of Simon, and let CC force in some more “comedy.”
I’m not sure who to blame for this – CC, or her editor. On the one hand, the editor might not have said anything. On the other, CC might have chosen to ignore that bit of advice. Either way, it was a mistake.
And I think we can clearly state that CC is not one of those authors who should use chapter titles – while we did get mention of “the Circle,” there was no mention of any “Brotherhood.” It’s probably a remnant of an earlier draft that just didn’t get fixed.
But that’s it for the first part of City of Bones. It’s taken a while to get here, but with any luck I’ll be able to keep up a decent pace with getting these sporkings out. I’d like to be done by the end of the year, at the very latest.
Weird Word Choice: 1 (Total 47)
Rapier Twit: 5 (Total 16)
No Shit Sherlock: 0 (Total 15)
Plot Hole: 4 (Total 39)
Random Scene Break: 3 (Total 4)
Both Hands, Ma’am: 1 (Total 1)