Titles: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass
Author: Cassandra Clare
Pub: Simon & Schuster; 2007 +
Pages: (combined) 1479
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Series
Holiday break upon me, I was yearning for a trilogy. I wanted a group of books where I could attach myself to the characters and plot line for a few days. The Mortal Instrument series were on my shelves with the intention of taking them to my classroom. I had heard wonderful things about them: fast pace, endearing characters, magical elements; but, honestly, I could tell you nothing of the story. It really was a no brainer at this point to open up the first in the series and see what it was all about.
Man, am I glad I did. I LOVED these books and read them in about three and a half days. The plot is intricate and smart. The characters struggle and grow throughout the books. And best of all, there is no obvious evil.
Clary is a normal girl whose only problem might be that her bestie, Simon, is in love with her. (She is ignorant of this for quite some time and try as she may, the love is definitely unrequited). Life goes on fine until one evening at a club she sees these three people attack a guy. It just so happens though, no one else can see them.
Jace, Izzy, and Alec were the three that Clary saw. They are Shadowhunters, i.e., they kill demons. They are the closest in the hierarchy to god and get their skills from having part angel blood. Shadowhunters are not magical beings; they use magic - specifically, runes, drawn on their body. There's a specific order in the magical world. The Clave, a group of almost presidential Shadowhunters, make sure that there is order in the magical community. The Downworlders - vampires, warlocks, fae, and werewolves are only tolerated. Finally, the mundanes (humans) are the lowest on the hierarchy because of their obvious ignorance.
Confusion enters the Institute (think of it like a Shadowhunter Embassy in New York) when it is realized that Clary, a mundane, could see them. She is sought out and question. It's fairly obvious that Clary's mom hid her from the magical world to protect her, but because of this, chaos ensues and the trilogy is born.
So that's the gist of the plot and characters, but it's definitely a super generalized gist because there's twists and not-real-twists. And a lot of action.
I watched an interview between Holly Black and Cassandra Clare where Black asked Clare her inspiration. Interestingly enough, Clare shared Dante's Inferno as being influential. After listening to her explanations for the three books I appreciated the story even more. The elements of good and evil are truly done well. For example, the villainous character, Valentine, is never described as being PURE evil. Thank you Cassandra Clare! I despise characters who are pinpointed as "the bad" one. *rolls eyes* How can I even begin to appreciate a character when the author feels that they don't even deserve any background explanation. Sure, Valentine wants to take over the Shadowhunters BUT he does it because he wants a pure race. He truly feels as though his intentions are pure. I'm by far more interested in plot lines and characters if I see humanity and appeal in all of them.
And of course because it's a young adult series, there is a love triangle in the trilogy (was that a wee bit too much sarcasm?) In the same interview, Clare claims that love triangles done well should be more about the choice of paths rather than just the choice of (wo)men. This completely works in the Mortal Instruments books because Clary (essentially) must choose between her mundane life and her magical one. Before even listening to the interview I have to admit the triangle didn't frustrate me as much as the Twilight or Hunger Games triangle did. There was never a moment where I felt compelled to root for one person over the next. So, in that sense, I agree with Clare and yup, she did it right.
I'd love everyone to pick up this series and give it a chance. It's the perfect relax 'n read treasure.
(ETA - Evidently the trilogy is not the end, although that was the intention. There will be three more books in the Mortal Instruments series. Fun times).