While I’m giving this book the same rating I gave to HUNGER by Jackie Kessler, I’m giving it four stars for very different reasons. I’ve read some of the back-and-forth on this book/series on the web and have to agree with some of the more common criticisms. It is, at points, shallow, contrived, poorly developed, poorly written, lacking in intellectual rigor, lacking in originality, etc. etc.
All of that being said, it’s fun to read, and sometimes that’s all a book needs to be. Each of the entries in this series is 300+ pages, and I managed to plow through two of them in less than ten days without spending more than a couple hours a day reading. The world Clare has created is interesting, the characters likable (if shallow and/or predictable at times) and the storyline, though weak at moments, interesting enough to keep things moving forward. The books move quickly, have entertaining action sequences, and just enough character development to keep things from getting stale. Clare also touches, however lightly, on some social taboos like homosexuality and incest without making the reader overly uncomfortable, which is an admirable feat in an otherwise fairly pedestrian series.
So, if you’re looking for great YA literature or truly thoughtful commentary on modern teen life through a fantasy lens, look elsewhere. If you have fond memories of ANGEL and BUFFY and are prepared to deal with a little teen angst and some moral ambiguity, these books are fun, fast reads to enjoy on a hot summer’s afternoon.
I would highly recommend this series to adult fantasy fans who are old enough to remember the TV shows I just mentioned, and teens age 15 and up. There is some language in these books that parents and librarians/educators should be aware of, but nothing overly explicit. The books read quickly and will lend a great sense of accomplishment to more reluctant readers who may feel some real pride at packing away a 350 page book in less than a week.