Welcome to the first Serial: I Give Up! In this series I’ll discuss a book, or more often a series, that I’ve given up on reading or given up finishing, and why. I welcome comments and discussion on these posts. Enjoy!
The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
When City of Bones first came out back in 2007, I was waiting to board my very delayed flight to Paris. The cover caught my eye while I was looking through the small kiosk near my gate. The book I originally packed to entertain me was boring and the airport was deserted which didn’t make for great sketching compositions. I desperately needed something to entertain me. And this was before the days of the iPhone and iPad to entertain oneself while stranded, if you can believe it.
I spent my entire flight devouring the book. I remember enjoying the fast paced plot and the characters immensely. It was also during a time where I wasn’t too familiar with the young adult genre or fandom. Cassandra Clare had me hooked on the Shadowhunter world and people and in finding out Valentine’s endgame, so naturally I picked up City of Ashes and City of Glass in the following years. But the magic that captured my attention in City of Bones quickly dissipated.
I did enjoy the original trilogy. I think Clare did a good job of pacing out major events and character reveals, but I don’t think she should have expanded the series another three books. There just wasn’t a lot leftover that needed answers in my opinion. Suddenly this fun series became a chore for me to finish.
My reason for giving up on The Mortal Instruments series lies in becoming exhausted with the characters and the plot after City of Glass. When I learned that Clare was writing three more books, an additional prequel series (The Infernal Devices), and possibly two more trilogies in the same world (The Dark Artifices and The Last Hours) I knew I wasn’t going to be in this for the long hall. When I picked up City of Fallen Angels, I felt so exhausted and honestly as someone who prides herself on having a fantastic memory, I can’t even recall the major plot points of the book. Even reading my review on Goodreads doesn’t spark a memory. I just remember not enjoying it as much as I enjoyed City of Bones.
Major Reasons I Didn’t Enjoy TMI:
- Clary. There I said it. It is really difficult for me to become heavily invested in a series when I hate the main character. I hate reading reviews claiming Clary to be this great heroine and feminist icon. It frustrates me more than anything to think that young girls are viewing this fictional character as someone the aspire to be. Someone whose constant thoughts through this series revolve around herself or her obsession with her boyfriend. She is not a role model, she is not a feminist icon, and she is certainly not really a true heroine (she faints every time there is danger). I think initially, Clary had a lot of potential to be a strong female character but Clare failed to create those chances.
- Jace. Ugh. I think that sums up my feelings on Jace. Clare kept describing him every chance she got and I think he’s supposed to be this “ideal teenage boy” for female readers but he was a major annoyance to me throughout the series.
- Cassandra Clare. There was a lot of hype over this author, both good and bad. I read all the allegations when she wrote Harry Potter fanfiction and while I am strongly against plagiarism, as a victim of it during my academic career, I was somehow managed to avoid it when I read the first trilogy. I think the overhype got to me for the last three books. When I finished City of Glass, I felt closure on the series and when she announced expanding the trilogy to three more books I felt cheated. The plot arc in the original trilogy was paced out beautifully. Reading City of Fallen Angels, it almost felt like a rush job, like she didn’t quite know what she wanted to do yet but that it was easy to add on to this franchise. The thought she put behind crafting the Shadowhunter world and the major conflict in City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass is completely absent for the last three books, even though the writing quality increased between books three and four, and so on.
- Books 4 & 5*. Mentioned a little bit above this, but I really felt like she turned these three books into more of a soap opera. I barely remember City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls. I mainly remember what a pain Clary and Jace are, and very little about the other supporting characters. Clare uses the events of Book 3 to propel the plot forward, along with a few loose ends, to create a viable plot but in the end it felt rushed and half-baked. And this is a large reason why I haven’t bothered to finish the series.
What I Did Enjoy:
- World building. The one aspect of this book I truely enjoyed, and is probably why I like City of Bones as much as I do, is the world building. Learning about the unseen world within our own reality is a concept I really like – similar to my review of Ekaterina Sedia’s The Secret History of Moscow and one of my favorite books Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere – I think Clare did an excellent job of presenting the world to us. If the book was getting particularly soap opera-y or describe Jace for the millionth time I would skip ahead to a good descriptive piece about the world. I think this is one of the reasons Clare has been so successful in setting up prequels and sequels – her world is so strong and believable for an urban fantasy series.
- Themes. I think a lot of young adult now present stronger thematic narratives. I liked that sexuality and homosexuality were focuses in this series. I don’t remember reading many books that openly dealt with these topics at the time.
In the end, I don’t think I’ll ever manage to finish City of Heavenly Fire. The magic I found in City of Bones won’t ever be replicated again in the series. I also don’t think I’ll get around to reading The Dark Artifices or The Lost Hours. I did read The Infernal Devices (Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess) and enjoyed those immensely. For me the characters were more likable, the plot was more interesting than The Mortal Instruments and it kept my attention. I also felt like the historical setting added more to the story and the growth of the characters. Though I could have done without a love triangle. I still stand by my four-star rating on Goodreads for City of Bones but I overall I would rank the entire 6-book series (without actually reading the sixth book) to a two-star rating.
Overall Rating For Series: ★★
*As of February 2016, I have not completed the series. I consider myself a “finish every series I start” kind of girl but well I don’t think its going to happen with this series. While I do currently have a copy of City of Heavenly Fire, my motivation to truck on through it is slim-to-none. If I ever do read it I will add my review to this post.