Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Mortal Instruments Series Review

Book Talk: It was supposed to be just another night out with her best friend.  But somewhere things went wrong, and ever since that night Clary's life has been turned completely upside-down, and she is starting to fear that it will never be the same again.  She has lived in New York with her mom all her life, but now she's discovering a whole new side of the city. A side that has always been there if you know where, and more importantly how, to look.  This new world is inhabited by vampires, werewolves, and fairies as well as half-angel shadow hunters that are trained to fight demons.  Clary isn't sure she wants to be a part of it, but when her mother is kidnapped by demons, where else does she have to go?

Rocks my socks: To me Cassandra Clare is an itch that I know I shouldn't scratch but I do anyway because it feels so darn good.  I know it's been done to death but I still love the classic urban fantasy premise that even in today's modern society there's a world of magic hidden just beneath the surface.  And for a book about an ongoing battle between the forces of good and evil there are a surprising amount of shades of grey in the characters.  Plus, at least this series has strong women characters and female warriors and the female protagonist saves the male just as often as he saves her.  The love dodecahedron they have going on is deliciously awkward as well, especially in the second and third books.  I can't help it--I love a good forbidden love story, I blame the bit of French blood in me.  They also have some good adult characters that the teens can rely on, which I appreciate.  The cast becomes more diverse as the series goes on as well with characters of different ethnic backgrounds, family situations, and sexual orientation.

Rocks in my socks: I don't enjoy Cassandra Clare for the quality of her prose or her originality.  Her writing is often cliched and full of tropes and the plot is extremely predictable.  There wasn't anything in any of these books that I haven't seen before, but she does know how to manipulate these well-used pieces into a highly entertaining whole.  And based on the prevalence and popularity of things like four chord songs I'd say there's something to be said for well-done variations on popular themes.  Especially after a summer of travelling all over and being constantly confronted by the unfamiliar I found these books extremely comforting.  Some would call these books 'guilty pleasures' but I don't think there's any need to feel guilty about indulging in the safe and familiar, as long as you also leave your comfort zone to seek more challenging books and activities as well.

Every book its reader: I'd give this to fans of urban fantasy and romance.  I think it would appeal to fans of the Twilight series and they even have an endorsement from Stephanie Meyers displayed on the front.  And lord knows they could use some stronger female role models after Bella.  As you would expect in a battle between good and evil, there is some violence in the books and, especially as the series goes on, some implied sexual content but nothing too explicit.  I'd say it's fine for 7th grade and up.

The Moral Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

Buy it at your local indie book store or check it out at your local library

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