Friday, June 13, 2014

Series Review: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Somehow, some way, I always fall into the YA fiction trap.

Meaning, despite the fact that I've generally hated every uber-popular YA series that I've read (Twilight, anyone?), I keep hoping that I'll find another exception (i.e. the Hunger Games series, which I enjoyed, for the most part).

The thing is, if I'd known that the Mortal Instruments series began as Harry Potter fan fiction, I wouldn't have bothered with it at all. Not because I have anything against fan fiction; generally, I don't. I think it's a good outlet, a way for people to express their creativity and love for a book or series and its characters. But there's a lot of really terrible fan fiction out there, and after the whole 50 Shades of Grey explosion (pardon the pun?) it saddened me how easy it was for a [popular] fan fiction writer to change a few things and then get some truly terrible writing published.


Unfortunately, I didn't know that Cassandra Clare's novels began as fan fiction until after I'd started reading them, and at that point I was already so aghast at how terrible they were that I had to keep reading if only for the laughs. I mean come on...the opening line of one of the chapters in City of Bones is, "The weapons room looked exactly the way something called 'the weapons room' sounded like it would look." I mean, that is possibly the worst sentence I've ever read in a published book. It's repetitive, it's insipid, and honestly it sets the tone for the series as a whole.

From here on in, please note that this review will likely contain spoilers for all six books in the series.

Because yes, that's what these books are - repetitive and insipid. In the first installment alone, readers witness the "endearingly perfect" heroine, Clary, realizing that she's not just a normal girl and falling for the SUPER RIDICULOUSLY HOT Jace who of course becomes enamored with her as well, for no explicable reason. Couple that with ridiculous scenes involving Clary 'turning traitor against her gender' over Jace and Jace 'not being like other guys' because he knows what bergamot is and that it's in Earl Grey tea, and I think I almost rolled my eyes right out of my head before I was even halfway through City of Bones. Not to mention the time Clary smacked Jace across the face simply because she was annoyed with him or something.

HOW IS THAT OKAY? Hint: It's not.

Any logical author would have wrapped this series up as the trilogy it was originally supposed to be, but no, Clare (whose name is 'conveniently' similar to that of her protagonist) had to keep going...and going...and going. First Jace and Clary were told that they were siblings - forbidden love, check. Then Jace was possessed by Clary's brother, who also happened to be her mortal enemy - forbidden love, double check. Finally, Jace was 'filled with heavenly fire' or some such nonsense, and he and Clary couldn't physically touch each other. Which I suppose is forbidden lust more than forbidden love, but whatever - triple check.

Of course, just like when I read Twilight, I knew that I had to finish reading this series...but after suffering through the first five books I kind of forgot about the fact that there was a sixth book coming out until it was actually released. I waffled over bothering with it at all, but I'd already made notes for this series review and then set it aside, and I mean hey, what's more fun than reading a terrible book [series] and writing a scathing blog post about it?

(A lot of things, actually, but I'm honestly so shocked at how popular these books are that I couldn't bring myself to not write this.)

I will say that despite the constant back and forth with Clary and Jace, Clare's storytelling seemed to improve between City of Bones and the fifth installment, City of Lost Souls. So I'm not sure what happened between that book and this last one in the series, City of Heavenly Fire, but my first thought is that she was bored to death of her own creation(s) and just wanted to get it over with. Why else spend a good portion of the novel following the characters who will populate her next series? Why else wrap up the stories of Clary and Jace, Alec and Magnus, Luke and Jocelyn, Izzy and Simon, and even Jem and Tessa from the Infernal Devices series, so perfectly that it was literally sickly sweet? Honestly it feels like Clare just published bad fan fiction of her own writing, and to repeat a fellow reviewer: For shame. For Shame.

Because I can't even remember enough about the first five books to rate each one individually, I'm not going to bother. Suffice it to say that I wouldn't have given any of them more than 2, maybe 2.5, stars. As for the series as a whole? I'll rate it a whopping 1.5/5 stars if only because I actually liked some characters (Simon and Magnus, mainly). Seriously, if it weren't for them I would have given it something akin to the Billy Madison speech. "Ms. Clare, what you've just written is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent series were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone that has read your novels is now dumber for having done so. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."



From City of Bones:

"'Sarcasm is the last refuge of the imaginatively bankrupt.'"

"'There is nothing...quite like the moral absolutism of the young.'"

"'Every teenager in the world feels like that, feels broken or out of place, different somehow, royalty mistakenly born into a family of peasants.'"

"'If you insist on disavowing that which is ugly about what you do...you will never learn from your mistakes.'"


From City of Glass:

 "'One thing you'll learn as you get older...is that when people tell you something unpleasant about themselves, it's usually true.'"

"'Regret is such a pointless emotion, don't you agree?'"

"'People aren't born good or bad. Maybe they're born with tendencies either way, but it's the way you live your life that matters. And the people you know.'"

"'...you never really hate anyone as much as someone you cared about once.'"


From City of Lost Souls:

"'Ah...Nerd love. It is a beautiful thing, while also being an object of mockery and hilarity for those of us who are more sophisticated.'"

"'...we all hide things. We hide them from our lovers because we wish to present our best selves, but also because if it is real love, we expect our loved one to simply understand it, without needing to ask. In a true partnership, the kind that lasts through the ages, there is an unspoken communion.'" Pin It

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