Gahhh!!! I don’t understand! This book is such an olio of randomness. I’ve never ever felt this way about a book before. One moment I’m laughing my butt off and hive-fiving the characters the next moment I’m pulling all my hair out and just ugh ugh. I don’t get it.
Seriously. I start off the book totally loving it – the humour, the wit, the familiar characters from the first book. Then, it just starts dragging so badly and becoming so overly dramatic. I believe in dramatic scenes when they are set up right. But, I swear, the characters were doing stupid things on purpose just to heighten the drama artificially because they were bored. The unbelievable twists in the plot got me wanting to grab some random person’s shoulders and shake them really hard and implore, “Whyyy??? Whyyyy???”. The humour started to feel forced and totally inappropriate for certain scenes. And stuff just happens to people that I don’t get.
Firstly, I was never really into Mae and Jamie in the first book. They were annoying and got in the way and never did anything useful when everyone was doing magically things. I began this book with great scepticism but I was hopeful nonetheless because others have enjoyed this one much more than the first (which I LOVE). But no. This book just confirmed it. I was pretty much like, yep, don’t get why Mae and Jamie have so much of a story to tell. I mean, they’re cool kids, they have their little brother and sister cutesy relationship going on. But, honestly, I DON’T GET WHY THEY’RE EVEN INVOLVED IN THE STORY. Jamie, maybe a little. He’s relatively important, I guess. He’s slightly more likable. But, Mae? Really? Mae has absolutely no use in the story aside from loving Jamie and being her sister and having crushes on unfeeling things and breaking the hearts of nice guys. Aside from that, really no point in having her in the story. At least, the story did not make me believe that she was important. In fact, the plot felt like it was forced to go through the ornery task of inserting Mae into every scene. Trying to have a private conversation with someone? Well, you can’t. Because – oops sorry – Mae was either there all along or she’s just randomly opened a door on the street and stumbled upon you and your friend trying to do things without her. How insensitive you and your friend are. You must like Mae, she’s just so awesomely loveable that you must include her in everything even if she’s useless and totally confused. You better not be planning something ’cause you can’t do it without Mae. Try to include her more if you can, she’ll feel awfully left out otherwise. Give her one of your knives, Nick. She’s like this annoying pink haired little sister that’s like “Where are you going? Can I come along? What are you doing? Can I do it too? Tell me everything about yourself! I want to know. Tell me tell me tell me!” Yank yank on the shirt sleeve. Really, Nick calling her a pest is a huge understatement. But she’s a lovable concerned-for-you pest so that should be alright, correct? No. It’s not alright. We need to be mean to Mae and exclude her because she’ll only grow to be a bigger pest in the future (I currently feel no shame in admitting what I’m saying would put me on the side of Deatheaters in Voldemort’s crew – except for the small fact that I am a muggle). Geez, I didn’t know I hated Mae so much. Apparently I do. Hate! Big hate on Mae!
And what was up with the ENDING? I find it all very convenient and not very well foreshadowed. I mean, let’s just get rid of all the adults so the children can roam free and let us do this by the most convenient way possible. I loosed not a tear for anyone at the ending. It was all just a big haze of not-making-any-sense and people thinking they’re smart and babies running around and Alan being all loveable with his soft soothing voice and Nick raging and flicking his knife everywhere.
There was just way too much of that. Of Nick flicking his knife, I mean. I get it, he’s a demon, he loves his knives and other death-related activities (it was bearable in the first book). But every scene containing Nick also contains a knife and he’s fondling it in some way. And must Mae always describe how freakin’ unemotional he is? We get it. When you look at him, you see NOTHING. An emotional vacuum. I mean, the occasional reminder of how inhuman Nick is, that’s okay, we need it to grow the plot after all, but it just gets so tiring. Please stop this. All this Mae getting upset about things and phoning up Nick and wanting Nick to do something about it and face palming herself when he doesn’t get it. It was fun and interesting at first. But again, way too many scenes of this. And Alan, poor poor Alan. Stop treating him so badly already, people. If Mae had any uses at all…but noooo she’s got to be ultra useless.
But I still love Nick. I can forgive him for acting like a meanie all the time by thinking to myself that everything’s from the point of view of Mae. The little diary bits were one of the few things that made sense about the book and help make the characters more interesting.
Mostly, though, the scenes were just not well knitted together. Things would happen and then you practically apparate into another scene in another location. People run around to different places (rather, it seems, Mae does) and do seemingly random things that then create other conflicts and then meet up with other people randomly to do more random things. Plotwise, this is how I felt while reading the book. I was literally bus-sick and train-sick trying to picture all this stuff going on whilst reading on my commute. I remember none of the locations in the book except for the Goblin Market (which changes location anyway). But I vaguely recall a cemetery and a bridge…
As for the flirtation and all the excessive wit – Sarah Rees Brennan is a genius. I laughed so hard and loved the book so much and chuckled until strangers wanted to stuff a sock in it. But sometimes I feel like the scenes are set up just to drop off those lines. Or extra dialogue is added that was unnecessary just so that a certain funny line could be thrown in. If I were reading this as a substitute for stand-up comedy, I’d likely be less whiny. But I’m not. I thought I was reading it for the characters – which failed – then I thought I was reading it for the plot, which double-failed. But boy is it funny. Which is why there is such a huge LOVE-HATE relationship going on between me and this book. I hate it to bits. But I love Sarah Rees Brennan’s humour. How the heck can both sentiments be fused into one book? Beats me, but I’m glad I got this little rant out.
And, for the record, I guess Mae would be pretty awesome in another sort of story. But in this one, her awesomeness is overshadowed by her great annoyingness. I give her that much.
Rating: 3 people Nick cares about enough to want to possess them. (there might have been four but an end was put to that right quickly)
Mae woke to the sound of the doorbell ringing. She cracked open one eye, saw the blinking red numbers that told her it was six o’clock in the morning, and planted her face back into her pillow.
The doorbell rang again. Mae wondered if they had a new milkman. One with a death wish.
The bell shrilled again, the noise echoing off the high ceilings.
“Oh my God, why is this happening to me,” Mae moaned, and dragged herself half out of her warm bed and onto the chilly window seat. She almost overbalanced and fell on the floor, but clung to her sheets and the edge of the window seat and managed to spare herself that at least.
She squinted through a pane and saw the back of a tall, dark boy.
She was going to kill him. Did he have some sort of plan for them to watch the sun rise together? Any guy who woke Mae for the sunrise was going to end up seeing stars, because he would have forced her to punch him in the face.
She couldn’t let Jamie answer the door. She fished on the ground for her jeans and dragged them on while still under the covers, then actually left her bed and found shoes. As she was tying them the doorbell rang again.
“It would serve you right if my mother answered the door,” Mae muttered as she ran down the stairs still finger-combing her hair. “And beat you to death with her briefcase.”
Annabel was always appalled by Mae’s boyfriends. The idea of her mother’s face when she met Seb amused Mae enough that she answered the door smiling: It was just possible that Seb’s romantic gesture was not going to backfire on him after all.
When she opened the door it took her a moment to process. The world seemed to hold still for a moment and then hop to another reality, the situation was that different from the one she’d expected.
It wasn’t Seb at the door. It was Nick.
He was at her door and he was almost dressed up, for Nick. Instead of the usual T-shirt, he was wearing a shirt that actually appeared to button up and a blue jumper over it that Mae was prepared to bet Alan had bought for him. His face was the same as ever, cool and betraying nothing.
Mae was suddenly very aware of the fact she was wearing a sleep shirt with RISE AND WHINE on it. And a picture of a puppy.
“Nick?” she asked, trying to fight down the unreasonable embarrassment that had started in the pit of her stomach and was clawing a hot path up her neck. She reminded herself that he was the one who’d turned up on her doorstep at oh-God-no o’clock in the morning. “What do you want?”
Nick leaned against the wall of her porch and said, “I want to talk.”
“Uh,” Mae said. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but were you abducted and brainwashed by aliens in the night?”
Nick raised his eyebrows. “I don’t want to talk about my feelings or anything,” he said. “Let’s take a walk. I don’t like your house.”
“I beg your pardon, there is nothing wrong with my house.”
“It’s too big,” Nick told her, frowning at it. “You can’t tell where people are in it, and you can’t hear everything that happens. There are too many places for something to hide in and leap out at you.”
Mae rubbed the sleep out of her eyes.
“Did you show up here at this time of the morning just to say, “Hi, Mae, your house is a death trap, want to take a walk?”
“For starters,” Nick said. “Coming?”