Book Journal: Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments Series

I just finished the 5th book in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, and I thought I'd share my experieces with the previous books as well. Don't expect any deep thoughts or revelations; this series is very superficial and derivative, and I read it solely to quench my Young Adult paranormal romance thirst.
  • City of Bones (Book 1) [read 10/3/11] My Rating: 4/5 Stars
    I picked up this series because it received a lot of acclaim on GoodReads, and up until that point I was never steered wrong by my fellow bookworms. This book was my first dalliance with the Fallen Angels type of paranormal romance. I was looking for something full of adventure and sigh-worthy, light-hearted romance. And that’s what I got. The storyline was interesting and something I hadn’t encountered before. The enjoyed the construction of the mythology, and I was charmed by the hero and heroine. I liked the direction things were headed for the most part…
  • City of Ashes (Book 2) [read 10/4/11] My Rating: 3/5 Stars
    I did not enjoy this installment of the series as much as the first book. Things were getting stale and overdone. I was slightly uncomfortable with the whole brother-sister-incest dilemma. But I hung on because I already purchased the 3rd book and had to tough it out.
  • City of Glass (Book 3) [read 10/5/11] My Rating: 5/5 Stars
    I remember really loving this book. I assumed it was the conclusion to what I thought was a trilogy. Everything worked out. All the plot lines and characters were neatly wrapped up with nice little bows on them. There was a lot of action and romance. It was a tough act to follow.
  • City of Fallen Angels (Book 4) [read 10/6/11] My Rating: 2/5 Stars
    My comments after finishing the 4th book, written October 6, 2011: This series was clearly meant to be a trilogy and should have stayed that way. I feel as if Clare ripped open a healed wound by trying to resurrect this already beautifully resolved story and made it ugly again. Not only does this book thinly veil Clare's greed by riding on the success of the previous books in the series, but it was barely interesting and paced too slowly. It ended with a cliff hanger leading up to another future book where Jace and Clary are to be tortured even more than they already have been. Overall, it was disappointing and frustrating, and I think the author should be ashamed of herself for blatantly over-milking the cash cow.
So now, for my latest experience with the Mortal Instruments series…
  • City of Lost Souls (Book 5) [read 6/4/12] My Rating: 3/5 Stars
    I definitely like City of Lost Souls more than City of Fallen Angels, but… this book was mostly boring with some highlights thrown in. There were a lot of sections on characters I simply did not care about. Those superfluous parts only made me care less about my favorite characters because of my growing frustration with all of the stagnant pieces.

    Done Right:

    -Clary’s strength. Clary is uncharacteristically self-reliant in this book. She is able to use her gifts to protect herself and those around her without depending on a hero to swoop in and save her every time. She showed bravery and confidence that made up for her whiny, pathetic-ness in the previous books.

    -Alec and Magnus. The struggles they face for being in an openly gay relationship in a judgmental and old-fashioned world are depicted succinctly and skillfully.  One of the most affecting scenes for me is where Alec describes the ways in which the harsh and cruel opinions of his parents and fellow Shadow Hunters upset him. Unlike another book I read recently where there was a gay couple written about very gratuitously, this storyline illustrates the hardships the lovers face in a sincere and less sermonizing way.

    -Simon as a leading man. He was not the pathetic side-kick in this book. He treated the women in his life with respect and reverence. He wasn’t moping over Clary and crying about his curse. In fact, he owned his powers. He used his curse to help his friends, meet an angel, and ultimately stymie the villain and save the day. His character definitely stole the show.

    Done Wrong:

    -Jace’s sexual jokes/innuendos. Many examples, but here’s the one that had me face-palming:

    "Lust," she said. "Lust is a deadly sin."
    "And spanking."
    "I think that falls under lust."
    "I think it should have its own category," said Jace. "Greed, envy, gluttony, irony, pedantry, lust, and spanking."

    C’mon, really? His charming confidence in the first three books was enjoyable, (I can’t remember much from the 4th because I chose to wipe that travesty of a book from my memory) but in this book, it morphed into deluded cockiness, and I could barely stand him.

    -Maia and Jordan. This resumed relationship sets a horrible example for young women. Maia was terrified of Jordan and full of nothing but hatred and resentment towards him. Her memories of him were of abuse and fear. He changed her life for the worse. He took away her humanity. And because he “changed,” she went back to him, after all of her misgivings. Yes, I know, he is now a good guy in the book. But fictional relationships should mirror real-life ones. Just because the story itself is fantasy doesn’t mean the truths of relationships and the dynamics of oppression and violence are fantasy.  Maia going back to her abusive ex because he is not abusive anymore is not realistic—abusive men do not change in real life, and it is irresponsible for Clare to portray such a relationship.

    -The moving, multidimensional house. I know that this series is very plagiaristic, and it borrows from a ton of other popular books in the fantasy genre…but the house is taken straight out of Diana Wynne Jone’s Howl’s Moving Castle.

    Favorite Quotes: “One must preserve some mystery in one’s relationship… A book that one has not read yet is always more exciting than a book one has memorized” (250).

    "Love isn't moral or immoral," said Clary. "It just is."

    “Basia coquum,” Simon said. “Or whatever their motto is.”
    “It’s Descensus Averno facilis est. The descent into hell is easy,” said Alec. “You just said Kiss the cook.”
    “Dammit,” said Simon. “I knew Jace was screwing with me.”

    He felt her stiffen and then relax. "Simon?"
    "Can you tell me a story?"
    "Okay. I've got a good one." Simon stroked Isabelle's hair, feeling her lashes flutter against his neck as she closed her eyes. "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..."

And there you have it: My errant thoughts on the Mortal Instruments series. I’m not sure how many more books Clare intends to drag out, and though I’m not as put off by the series as I once was after the 4th book, I don’t know if I will keep up with any of the books to follow.

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