by Cassandra Clare
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .
*** MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***
I first tried reading this book back in 2009 and pretty much hated it. I thought I had given up before finishing the first book but now I think I might have struggled through to the end at that time. I know I had bought this and the second book in the series at the same time, but never bothered even trying that second book. And then they'd just been sitting on a bookshelf, gathering dust, and almost being given away a few times . . . until now, almost four years later. I'm not sure what else I might have been reading around the time. It seems like I might have still been all Harry Potter and Twilight mode but both of those series were done by the time I first tried reading this. Hmm, not even sure anymore but it seems like I kept comparing this in my mind to something else, and hating it, and that's why I gave up.
Ok, so fast forward to earlier in 2012. One of the YouTubers I subscribe to had been reading this series and was absolutely loving it. At first I was like bleah, and didn't think much of it. But to hear her talk about this book, and the others in the series as she eventually reviewed each one, her enthusiasm about the series, well, it made it sound so good. Even so, it still took me a while to decide to give this series another try. When I finally did haul this first book off the shelf, I found a scrap of paper in it that I'd scribbled down some notes/thoughts from the first time I'd tried reading it. (Does anyone else do that? People laugh at me for it.) At first I didn't want to read the notes because I thought I'd be then be going into it with a tainted mind. I read it eventually though, and laughed because I didn't remember any of these things. And as I finally got into reading the book, I was amazed to find I wasn't having those same thoughts and gripes.
Well alright then! Maybe there's hope!
This is the first book in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series. I found I was enjoying this book as I dove into a second time. I was trying not to compare it to other books (which I have a huge problem doing) but I eventually did realize that one thing I was liking about this one was that it was less hectic, slightly more laid back and to the point than certain other YA Nephilim related books I'd read recently. And I was even surprised that this WAS Nephilim related! I think when I tried reading it the first time, I had no clue about anything in the angel world and that might have been one of the other turn-offs for me back then. But now I was like 'Hey! Awesome!' because now I *am* all about angels.
This book started off interesting right from the get-go. (Get-go?) The paranormal element is brought into it pretty darn quick, which is cool because there isn't a lot of possibly boring buildup to it. But then, once we're given the first look at things, the story nearly becomes lame and cheesy while all the supporting characters start coming into it and the foundations for the series are laid. Still, it does keep a quick pace and sticks pretty well to the point. There is not a lot of fluff and filler to draw this book out. There are not a lot of pointless distractions. As the book goes on, you start to see how clever the storytelling will become. Some connections are obvious, but others are things you probably breeze right over and only later think back with an 'Aaahhhh, got it!'
Clary is the main character, but she might also be the weakest part of it all. She's sort of the magnet that draws all of the other players together. I guess I should cut her some slack though because in this first book at least, she's as clueless as we are as the story goes along. She's learning things the same time we are. I can't remember for sure offhand, but I think this first book sticks mainly with just Clary's view of things. (The second book jumps around among different characters.) She is just an average teenage girl, just a boring 'mundane' (human), enjoying her normal life. She lives with her mother. Her father died before she was born. She hangs out with her best friend, Simon, who is a nerdy gamer dork. Then one night she sees a bunch of unexplainable things, and it's all made worse by the fact that Simon can't see any of these things she's talking about. What the . . . ?
That's where Jace comes in. He is the other main character. He is 17 years old (I think) and he is a Shadowhunter. Shadowhunters are Nephilim (part human, part angel) and are sort of protectors of the human race. They fight demons, sending them back to their own worlds, and keep the Downworlders in check, trying to maintain peace and secrecy. (Downworlders are things like vampires and werewolves.) Shadowhunters are trained for this life pretty much from the day they are born. They use runes and markings on their skin, and enchanted tools and weapons, which make them appear magical. Jace is one of the best. He is determined and driven, and an arrogant, cocky, jerk most of the time. At first I was having a hard time liking him because everything that comes out of his mouth is sarcastic or snotty. As we're allowed to know him a bit more as the story goes on, it was easier to accept his attitude.
Of course, Clary and Jace fall in love. This doesn't sit well Simon, who has gone beyond just best friend feelings towards Clary even though she can't see it. She can see demons and things that normal people can't see, but she can't see that her best friend is madly in love with her. Hehe. It also doesn't sit well with Jace, because he's been trained as this demon-seeking, peace-keeping warrior with no time or need for trivial teenage romance. It's also become apparent to him as he's grown that to love is to destroy. And then of course, once they admit their feelings for each other, an awkward and somewhat cheesy plot twist throws a huge roadblock in their path.
There are quite a few other characters that we are introduced to in this first book. There are Alec and Isabelle, brother-sister teenage Shadowhunters and Jace's 'foster' siblings. Hodge is the sort of wise old man of the story, kind of like a Dumbledore or a Gandalf. Magnus is a warlock and at first seems to be one of the bad guys, but not everyone is what they seem. There is Clary's mom, Jocelyn, and Luke, who is Jocelyn's longtime friend and the guy closest to a father that Clary has. And there is Valentine, the most feared and almost legendary figure in all non-human world. Long thought dead, there are rumors and murmurings that he is back. What does he want? And how is boring little Clary involved??
The big confrontation with Valentine was kind of a letdown, but again, it's laying groundwork for what's to come. I found out fairly early in reading this book that they are already making a movie of it, and when I found out who is playing Valentine it made it quite fun picturing him in the role as I read.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Valentine! Woot!!
I'm glad I gave this book a second chance. I'm surprised and very pleased that I liked it so much this time. I wouldn't say I loved it, and it didn't grab me like other books have but I'm already reading the second book and the story does seem to get stronger as it goes on. This first book ends with the door wide open for the next installment in the series. Some questions are answered, some are not. As mentioned, a ton of foundation for the rest of the series was laid in this one. There is some violence, mostly fantasy type things where demons are killed. There is some kissing and marveling at Jace's hot bod, but it is tame. It's an action packed and quick paced story but it is still quite safe for younger teens to read. And it was refreshing to have a somewhat basic keep-to-the-point story for once. Overall, this was a fairly quick and easy read despite it's size, and it was quite entertaining. And I am definitely looking forward to the movie!!
Have YOU read the Mortal Instruments series?