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Ranting Review: City of Fallen Angels

Warning: major spoilage ahead.

I don’t actually post all the books I’ve read in my spiritual library (on the blog or my Goodreads account) as I like to keep my bibliotheca centered on relevant pagan spirituality and religious research. Besides, if I did post everything I’ve read that had even a little something to do with witches and gods, there would soon be room for little else. I’m a big fantasy- and science-fiction fan. These days, almost all my reading is dedicated to this genre. As such, it can be hard to discriminate between relevant and irrelevant content sometimes. Occasionally, I get a real squeaker: a book that has some interesting information, reminiscent of or relevant to paganism, but is otherwise un-related or sheer literary imagineering. This book is not an example of this kind of dilemma, but it really got me fired up about a particular pagan aspect of the book. So I would like to take a moment to rant about the latest novel in the (expanding) Mortal Instruments series: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare.

I’ll quickly address the main issue that everyone who has read this book is talking about: it sucks. Ms. Clare really should have left it alone. The trilogy was wonderful and complete—that is until the popularity of the series tempted Clare to continue and therefore “fix” what wasn’t broken. We now have an amazing amount of teenage relationship twaddle to wade through, which seems to be her solution to the unnecessary “Now what?” issue. There are some horrendously dysfunctional juvenile plots floating around that never resolve, or change, or give even the slightest hint of letting up anytime soon: he loves me, he loves me not, we’re meant for each other, he won’t talk to me, we have to come together to defeat the super evil, we have to stay apart for the good of humanity, he needs me, he hates me, let’s fight, let’s talk, let’s have sex, let’s avoid each other like the plague; repeat. Pepper this with endless descriptions of how perfect lover-boy’s body is and how we’re not worthy of his majesty’s superhuman skills and six-pack. I could go on. It has all the pitfalls of contemporary teen-fiction. It was also a great series before it fell into this…well, pit.

Now let’s talk about what inspired this rant of mine. I had a really hard time with this book. Regardless of how ecstatic I was to have the opportunity to read more about these beloved characters (yes I do love them – the original Mortal Instruments trilogy is totally awesome) I couldn’t get past the clumsy and irreverent treatment of the new and mysterious “big bad” in town. The true villainess in this installment turns out to be a major mythological goddess in Judaism and modern pagan traditions. And I mean major. I won’t go into too much detail, but her role was cut really short. She was far too easily removed for such an ancient and powerful figure. Just saying. It really irked me. This particular goddess deserved far more respect than that.

[Major Spoiler Alert] (Careful not to fall over the italics.)

I can’t help it. I have to talk about it. Lilith! They actually kill Lilith. Yes, that Lilith. The queen of the night. The dark goddess. Mother of demons. The first woman. The first feminist. The first to stand up against misogynistic oppression by refusing to lie under Adam. The first to rebel against the Hebrew god. The bitch-queen of all time (and I mean that lovingly)! All that and more…and she’s taken down by two teenage boys? Simon and Jace actually succeed in killing Lilith. I can’t believe it! I mean, why choose such a powerful feminine divine as the villain anyway, let alone have the unbelievable gaul to annihilate her. What’s worse, Clare actually cast her more as the villain behind the villain in this piece—the woman behind the man. Oy vey.

At the very least, isn’t casting such a mind boggingly powerful goddess a bit of an overkill for the small role she plays? I mean, two moody boys—one a vampire noob and the other a tiresomely self-loathing melodramatic human-angel hybrid and occasional douchebag, both of whom are injured—are her ultimate downfall? Really? Really? Thousands, millions, possibly billions of years in existence among the greater cosmos and she dies on a rooftop in Manhattan because of two lovesick kids? It’s like casting Cthulhu as the absent-minded waiter. Please. What hubris.

Yes, I’m aware that I’m taking this way too seriously. It’s just frustrating. Some aspects of the so-called Lilith character actually rang true and presented an intriguing psychological profile in this book. I adore the stories of Lilith, and when it turned out to be her behind the plot, I was excited…for about a chapter or two. I wanted it to work! It could have worked. That is, it could have worked if Ms. Clare were Joss Whedon, and had been a teen-fantasy author to resist the never-ending Twi-tard model (and that’s coming from a Twilight fan). Sadly, she is neither. Maybe in the future she can do something about that.

Forgive them Lilith, they know not what they do. Alright. Rant over. Thank you for listening.

Love and Darkness,

I’m a pan(en)theistic Pagan with a quick tongue, black thumb, and no sense of elemental direction. Otherwise, I’m awesome.
Posted By Mnemosyne Mars

I'm a pan(en)theistic Pagan with a quick tongue, black thumb, and no sense of elemental direction. Otherwise, I'm awesome.

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