Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Series Showdown: Beautiful Creatures vs. Glass Houses vs. City of Bones

Recently, I finished the first book of three different series:
Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires, #1) by Rachel Caine
City of Bones (Mortal Instruments, #1) by Cassandra Clare

And I thought that instead of reviewing each of them individually, it might be more fun and worthwhile to compare them to each other (showdown style), primarily because they all fall within the YA supernatural genre and are the initiating installments of their respective series.

First, let's get the story summaries of the three contenders:

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)

Summary: (from the back cover) Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her determined to uncover the connection between them.

Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires, #1)
Summary: (from the back cover) It's a small college town filled with quirky characters. But when the sun goes down, the bad comes out. Because in Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadow-one that spills out in the brightest light.
Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. The popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks in the school's social scene: somewhere less than zero. And Claire doesn't really have the right connections-to the undead that run the town.When Claire heads off campus, the old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don't show many signs of life. But they'll have her back when the town's deepest secrets come out crawling, hungry for fresh blood.

City of Bones (Mortal Instruments, #1)
Summary: (from the back cover) When Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in NYC, she hardly expects to witness a murder, much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with odd markings. This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons-and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It's also her first meeting with gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know...

The Showdown

Leading Character:
Ethan Wate (Beautiful Creatures) vs.
Claire Danvers (Glass Houses) vs.
Clarissa Fray (City of Bones)

This is a tough one to call because they're all so different and awesome in their own way.
  • Ethan Wate is great, he is funny and really adores Lena (his romantic interest), but falls way off the charts in terms of being a 16 year old adolescent male. For one, he is very severely deficient in the raging hormones department and is so abnormally restrained (and yes, I mean sexually) that it starts seeming a little bit weird after a while. Seriously, if you wish for your narrator to be a guy, endow him with a guy's brain! And I've read enough YA novels with male narrators to know that being honest about these things is best...if you want your reader to believe the story that is.
  • Claire Danvers is a pretty awesome oddball of a girl, who always seems to piss off the wrong type of people (and also vampires). She has the Stephanie Plum feistyness about her - if Stephanie was back in high school and had to dodge fangs instead of bullets (and guys, if you don't know what i mean because you've never read the Stephanie Plum Series, you need to stop reading this and go get One for the Money, like now).
  • Clarissa Fray is a decent narrator. There is some mystery to her (mystery she herself needs to uncover) and that makes her enigmatic. She is also pretty funny, which allows for some really cool dialogue sequences between her and other characters in the book (and of course, that's always a plus). Clary's only problem is that she's a bit of a wuss when it comes to the action sequences described. I just wish she would have been more involved...(Katniss is to blame for this one, I suppose).
WINNER: Claire Danvers (Glass Houses)

Romantic Chemistry:
Ethan & Lena (Beautiful Creatures) vs.
Claire & Shane (Glass Houses) vs.
Clary & Jace OR Simon (City of Bones)
  • Ethan &Lena have the mortal-supernatural relationship going on. Since they come from such different worlds, they're forbidden to date each other. But they defy this, making another Romeo and Juliet of themselves. Alas not even this Shakespearean aspect can help how poorly mismatched the two of them are and I'd have to say Ethan deserves way better than what fate (in this case Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl) stuck him with. Lena is just not very likable. Even if there are some very restrained physical interactions between the two of them (strictly kissing...sometimes for an hour or more), no real romance exists.
  • Claire & Shane are an awesome pair because they have such different characteristics, while Claire is a brainy klutz, Shane is all heart and valor. There aren't any romantic sparks between the two when they first meet, but the romance does build up with time. And when we finally get that one romantic scene (and yes, there is only ONE), it's pure perfection that leaves us wanting more.
  • Clary, Jace & Simon are involved in a lopsided romantic triangle and Clary must choose between Jace, a half-human-half-angel shadowhunter endowed with a crooked smile and excellent eyebrow control, and good old comfortable Simon, who is her best friend. It's all fun flirtations until something quite unexpected is revealed about Clary and one of these leading men. This revelation is a real shocker, so shocking that I'm still wondering how necessary it was for this to happen (I guess the rest of the series will tell).
WINNER: Claire & Shane (Glass Houses)

Overall Plot:
Casters in the South (Beautiful Creatures) vs.
Vampires in Texas (Glass Houses) vs.
Shadowhunters in NYC (City of Bones)
  • Beautiful Creatures sets up a dramatic southern goth feeling, and quite frankly Garcia and Stohl do a heck of a better job at it compared to Ms. Harris in the True Blood Series. I also liked the dichotomy of caster magic and voodoo magic that was incorporated. Some of the things these casters could do really blew me away!
  • In Glass Houses, the vampires are very important to the story. The human-vampire relationship in terms of political control is also very interestingly organized in the town of Morganville. I was worried that I wouldn't like the series because of my presumed guru-ness in everything vampire related. Caine managed to prove me wrong by adding her spin on their abilities and mannerisms. What she has imagined here isn't bad at all. A small sleepy town with a deadly secret is always appealing.
  • City of Bones's best part is probably the plot. There are a lot of different supernatural creatures incorporated in the book (shadowhunters, vampires, warlocks, faery, etc.) and while this could have become confusing, Clare constructs a really easy to follow hierarchy of beings that's very helpful. Very biasly, I'll also say that the fact that the story was set in NYC (which is where I live) was awesome! Essentially, I got to read about all these cool characters fighting it out in a bunch of places I'm familiar with. And really, what can beat that?
WINNER: Shadowhunters in NYC (City of Bones) —slightly biased decision

Book Cover
People who create covers for the YA sci/fi genre are really talented. All three covers here are pretty kick-ass, but sadly I can only pick one winner.

WINNER: Beautiful Creatures (I think that this cover was both most understated and most captivating and I loved looking at it).

SHOWDOWN WINNER: Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires, #1). Yup, out of the three, I am most exited to continue reading the Morganville Vampires Series.

Lit Snit Gradebook
Beautiful Creatures : C
Glass Houses : B
City of Bones : C

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