Clary Fray is not the ordinary girl from Brooklyn that she thought she was. After happening upon what she thinks is a crime scene, Clary is introduced to the world of the Shadowhunters - the world she was born into without realizing it. Shadowhunters are the feared enforcers of law and order who ruthlessly hunt and destroy demons, and keep Downworlders - the supernatural creatures on earth - from preying on humans. None are more skilled at this than Jace, the cocky 17 year old Shadowhunter who delights in smashing heads and breaking hearts. Along with a slew of delightful secondary characters, Clary struggles to solve the mysteries of her past, her forbidden attraction to Jace, her place within this new world of violence, and the growing threat that could destroy Downworlders and Shadowhunters alike - the ex-Shadowhunter, Valentine.
This is a trilogy made up of The City of Bones, The City of Ashes and The City of Glass. I know these have been out for a while, but I just discovered them last year. I had seen them around before and I was like, "Ew the cover art is weird and cheesy," so I never thought about picking one up to read. Also, Stephanie Meyer has this huge endorsement on them and I was thinking that it seemed pathetic to use her name to sell more, which had the opposite effect on me than what the publisher was probably going for. That's what you get for judging by the cover I guess. But who am I kidding - I do it all the time and won't ever stop. And really, the art does His Mortal Instruments NO justice at all. Plus, I was kind of over all these supernatural YA books that are all the rage. But then a friend of mine, whose taste in books I admire, read and loved them so I swallowed my pride and decided to give them a try.
I love these books. They just have so much going for them. It's hard for me to admit my love because I feel like they're such a guilty pleasure, but really I think my snobbery is unfounded because C.Clare is a great writer. She weaves a spectacular blend of elements; a creative and intriguing mythology, fast-paced storytelling, dangerous adventures and dark secrets, love triangles and witty banter. It's like an ice cream sundae with all the works. One of my greatest purchases, and I've gotten some great deals in my lifetime of shopping, was getting the hardcover set last fall from Amazon for only $30 brand new. For ALL THREE. HARDCOVER. Oh Amazon how I love thee. . .
Anyway. I shied away from these because it seemed like the people raving over them were the crazed Twilight fanatics, though I hope that anyone who likes adventure and wit and just an all-around fun story will read them. Not all will like them though, and probably for a couple reasons. First, it is teen angst to the max. Which I very openly love because I find it excessively diverting when done well. And I think it's done well because 1) there's so many other components driving the story besides love, or the lack thereof; 2) the banter between all angsty characters is unrivaled in its hilarity; and 3) Jace. Jace is a love-him-or-hate-him character, and I adore him because he is all snark and Bad-A behavior. I read City of Bones and I was like, Jace is what I aim to be in life! Sans the boy part.
"Not everything is about you," Clary said furiously.
"Possibly," Jace said, "but you do have to admit that the majority of things are."
And that's just a TASTE of what comes out of Jace's mouth. For your enjoyment, here is another exchange that had me laughing as I read it:
Isabelle drifted over, Jace a pace behind her. She was wearing a long black dress with boots and an even longer cutaway coat of soft green velvet, the color of moss.
"I can't believe you did it!" she exclaimed. "How did you get Magnus to let Jace leave?"
"Traded him for Alec," Clary said.
Isabelle looked mildly alarmed. "Not permanently?"
"No," said Jace. "Just for a few hours. Unless I don't come back," he added thoughtfully. "In which case, maybe he does get to keep Alec. Think of it as a lease with an option to buy."
Isabelle looked dubious. "Mom and Dad won't be pleased if they find out."
"That you freed a possible criminal by trading away your brother to a warlock who looks like a gay Sonic the Hedgehog and dresses like the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?" Simon inquired. "No, probably not."
The other reason these don't sit well with some is the revelation at the end of the City of Bones that thwarts the relationship between Clary and Jace. At first I was rather bothered, but of course things get resolved in the very end like all non-tragic epics. I figure that twist was thrown in to keep the tension tight throughout the series, which Clare succeeds in doing. And these books DO have this epic feel about them; not in the way that Harry Potter does but in a similar vein I think.
I wanted to review these because I got all three on audiobook and I've been listening to them the past week at work. The reader for City of Bones is Ari Graynor I think, and Natalie Moore for City of Ashes and City of Glass, though the differences aren't noticeable. In fact, I would have never noticed except that Natalie Moore did the Dairy Queen audiobook too so her voice was familiar to me. Of course I imagine some of the things the characters say (or yell) to sound differently than how they're read out loud, but otherwise the audiobooks are fantastic.
All in all His Mortal Instruments is highly recommended to anyone who likes YA and urban fantasy, or anyone willing to get off their high horse and give them a shot despite those things. Both my thumbs way way up.