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Okay overall. (this review contains spoilers)
Let me start off by saying that this was not a bad book. The plot was generally interesting (although I felt that one could chop off several filler paragraphs without materially affecting the story) and the writing was clean enough and moved quickly despite the aforementioned fillers. The reveals of the backstories also seemed quite forced - but they were thorough and tolerable enough. The dialogue could border on painful sometimes, and the book-and-poetry quoting could get annoying.

However, it annoyed me that several characters were very similar to characters from TMI - Tessa is like a snarkier, more 'ladylike' version of Clary - however as heroines go, she was consistent enough, if a little boring. Both Jessamine and Isabelle are beautiful, competent, slightly mean Shadowhunters on opposite sides of feminism. But what annoyed me the most was that Will and Jace could essentially be the same character - only Will just happens to be much meaner and much ruder, and the fact that he was nice one moment and sarcastic the next and then sad and haunted was incredibly irritating. Troubled But Cute or deep dark secret or whatever, it just added to the overall annoyance.

Their relationship also had lots of similarities with Jace and Clary - naive-but-powerful-fish-out-of-water-girl with hot-competent-emo-Shadowhunter guy. It just got kind of old, and I don't see how Will being insanely emo (bipolar or not, it just felt that way) made things any better. It felt rather forced.

I liked Jem, who seemed to have a tangible character at least - despite it being the old kind, handsome but tragically ill Love Interest trope, and his friendship with the brooding Will was a little endearing. However, I severely disliked Nate and the forced, unreal way with which he seemed to switch sides, and his relationship with his sister was not nicely portrayed. The servants and the villains were also pretty cool (special mention to Sophie), and the villains did have a point with the Fantastic Racism which was, sadly, never really fully explored by the book like it was in TMI. Another thing was that the twists were getting very predictable, and there were way too many problems left unexplained - such as the angel necklace.

Overall, the book is lacking in some aspects - but since it's only the first book, there is plenty of time for improvement.
Fair points over all but I have a head-scratcher here: You make the point in your review of disliking Nate and I am puzzled. As Nate is a villainous character and a traitor to his own sister, isn't it natural to dislike him? You might need to do a couple of re-reads. In the Reveal, it's shown that Nate doesn't switch sides... he was working with Mortmain to capture Tessa all along and he had sold her out to the Dark Sisters before she even arrived in London. No, his relationship with his sister was not nicely portrayed. It wasn't supposed to.

I think - I hope the Fantastic Racism will be expanded on in the rest of the series. ID has already branched out from the first TMI trilogy by having a mundane - regarded by Shadowhunters and Downworlders alike as essentially weak and useless - be the Big Bad and a real threat. So that's a point in its favor. COFA did some fantastic work showing the Downworlders perspective in this mythology and I believe the rest of the books in both series are going to keep up the momentum.
comment #7720 cassandraclare 19th May 11
From what I've gathered from your comment, you act as if it is impossible to like villains. Is Macbeth not a likable character? I know quite a few people who have Lord Voldemort as their favorite character as opposed to, say, Hermione Granger or Albus Dumbledore. I dislike Nate merely because his relationship with Tessa was not nicely portrayed. I digress that by "seemed to switch sides" I forgot to point out that he was never on the side of good to begin with. The story is told from Tessa's point of view, and from what she was gathering in that moment, he had, indeed, seemed to switch sides.
comment #7842 Windsong12 31st May 11
then you'll like the 2nd book. jem is getting some more focus and I feel like you'll be pleasantly surprised at the relationship developments.
comment #12026 silvercover 23rd Dec 11
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