Review – The Mortal Instruments Books 1-3 by Cassandra Clare

When I first heard the Mortal Instruments series was a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I’m a huge fan of all things Whedon – I even watched all of the fascinating but flawed Dollhouse) and Twilight (which I did read – the things I do to stay up with the industry) my ears perked up. I bought the boxed set (at Borders, no less, doing my part) and dug in, reading a book a day.

The series then became my February selection for the Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge I signed up for through the book review blog Floor to Ceiling Books.

The first three books – City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass – focus on protagonist Clary who gets drawn into the world of angels and demons when her mother mysteriously disappears. She and her comrades (three Shadowhunters, a werewolf, and her high school bff cum vampire) are pitted against Clary’s estranged father Valentine, a powerful ex-Shadowhunter who seeks to rid the world of demonkind.

One of the most enjoyable aspects was the dialogue since that was the most BtVS-worthy aspect of the stories. The worldbuidling effectively evoked the demonic underbelly of New York City, but Clare includes a lot of borrowed tropes, which help to keep the emphasis of the story where it belongs: on the characters.

Clare gets credit for trying to make the big-bad more multi-dimensional then other fantasy villains striving for the purity of the race (Voldemort anyone?) with bits of backstory and scenes intended to explain his view on things, but most of Valentine’s choices are tough to stomach. I also liked how all the different characters have their own role to play in the story – also reminiscent of the Scooby gang’s division of labor in BtVS.

And then there’s Jace. Apparently he’s up there with both Edward and Jacob from Twilight. While it’s obvious that Jace and Clary would end up together – even with best friend Simon thrown into the mix – it was still fun figuring out how and when with all the ups and downs in between.

Maybe I’m used to a more intimate third person POV in the books I read (and the ones I’m trying to write) but I found the books’ POV to have a bit more narrative distance than I’m used to. It took me a long time to get into Clary’s character and really care. As I read, I was interested in what happened because there is a lot of action, but not terribly involved.

Book Three (City of Glass) leaves us with a happy ending and most narrative threads tied up nicely. I was somewhat surprised to learn three more books were in the works, with Book Four (City of Fallen Angels) to come out later this year. It is supposedly focused more on best friend Simon’s transformation into a vampire, but it sounds (to me) as a way to bank on the success of the first three books and push the property as far as it goes. I hope I’m wrong.

In any case, the first three books are a fun read, with a bit more action and substance to them than Twilight.

To read more of this month’s book reviews for the Speculative Reading challenge, go HERE.


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5 thoughts on “Review – The Mortal Instruments Books 1-3 by Cassandra Clare

  1. Have you checked out Clockwork Angel? It's the first book of a prequel trilogy by Clare. It has some reachings towards steampunk, but also some interesting cross-ties with the Mortal Instruments series. It was intriguing enough that I'll be checking out the next books in the series.

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