Judging a Book: The Mortal Instruments Series

(This review is 100% spoiler free. The only details given could be gleaned from watching the City of Bones movie trailer or by reading the back cover of the books.)

By it's cover: The first four books I bought came in a set and were paperback. The fifth was purchased separately as a hardcover. I mostly like the covers.They had a cool iridescence. However, the models were obviously too old. I also didn't like that I was robbed of the opportunity to imagine how the characters looked. At first the covers only show half-faces, which still allows for some imagination, but one full faces are shown, along with ridiculous poses, I get a bit irritated. I also don't like how the runes are, like, glowing? Why? I wish the book covers emphasized more the skylines of New York and the other cities explored within the books. Oh, and please, remove the Stephanie Myer quote from the front-center. That doesn't inspire me to read. (I will say though that the City of Glass cover tricked me. I thought the cover featured a character already introduced, OH how wrong I was...)
By it's storyline: Honestly, I bought and read these books after seeing the trailer for City of Bones. I also needed something to do while at my Nana's. (No internet connection.) I also didn't know the series wasn't completed. Basically, I needed a distraction and this was it. The first the books didn't impress me. The storyline was, unfortunately, outrageously predictable.  And I should go ahead and say, if you are looking for a book that will make you feel fulfilled or make you seek fulfillment, don't look here. But if you need distraction, or need to be mildly entertained, this is your ticket. The plot twists are about as sharp as limp noodles. I kind of feel like it undermines the reader's (presumably young adults) ability to think critically or have the ability to foresee a plot. Any young adult well-read can beat a plot to a pulp with book-savvy-intuition. But maybe, the assumed reader of the books does not have these abilities?
    However, I have to admit, things got cooking in the fourth book, City of Fallen Angels. Here is where, I believe, the best of the storylines are filled out. It also ends on the perfect dramatic note. A hook. The fifth doesn't outdo the fourth, but I think the sixth, yet to be published, has great potential.
By it's style: It should be noted that the books in the this series are written in shifting perspectives. I have feelings about this. Negative feelings. I'm a big fan of shifting perspective. So it's easy to compare this experience with perspective with other novels using the same method. I feel like if you're going to use shifting perspective, do it justice. The characters should be so well developed that I can identify them immediately by just their thoughts or actions. Basically, within the first few sentences. Unfortunately, I sometimes had difficulty identifying which character was currently in action. Maybe that's my fault? I'm willing to take some blame. I will say though that one voice overpowered all of the characters: the author's. This happens when (even though characters are a part of very different worlds and cultures) they act, think, and say the same things. I don't know why more creative language wasn't explored. I'm pretty sure that every character said, at least once, "Don't." It may sound like I'm being nit-picky, but geez woman, it was on every other page, in every chapter! Just... don't. Phrases like that were repeated by several different characters. I think they may have assisted with my difficulty in identifying characters. Overall, the characters were underdeveloped. It was especially unfortunate because of how interesting they were or could have been. Potential squandered.
By it's context: The world created in this series is similar to our own except with hidden features. The hidden features are only seen by people called Shadowhunters who protect "Mundanes" (aka average humans) from demons... okay. And if that wasn't enough for you there are also vampires, werewolves, walocks, faeries, ghosts (The ghosts are referred to, but never really interacted with.), angels, and a spectacular variety of demons, of course. WAIT THERE'S MORE: Every religious story and every myth is regarded by the Shadowhunters as 100% true. Their history books must be pretty intense. However, the only religions explored in any sense are Christianity, Judaism, and there were a few references to Hinduism, but only when statues of Hindu gods were conveniently placed within a scene. The Bible is quoted and referenced the most out of all the religious texts available, but there is little spiritual depth possessed by the characters themselves. Which I think is weird, but that's just me. All in all, this is too much. It would take like ten years to fit all of these ideas into a series that possessed the depth worthy of all of these subjects. So in this series all of the previous listed factors, are just skimmed over. I would want to put all of my favorite things into a series too, but Sailor Moon references, Poe quotes, Iron Man movies, environmentalism ideals, love/faith shouldn't all be in the same book. You can mix and match some, but it just gets overwhelming for the author and the reader.
By it's characters: Generally speaking, I like the main characters. I like it when they did use clever speech or references. I like their auras. My biggest beef with the characters was how "young love" was portrayed. It followed the playbook on how young adults are like super passionate and like to make-out and stuff. SIGH. If you want to convince me that two characters are in love, no matter their age, I need to see that they understand each other. Just because you make a girl shudder at the caress of a hawt young male doesn't mean they're in love. Which media has currently suggested is totally true, and this book is only feeding the misunderstood flames. When two people understand, care, and are genuinely interested in each other, love has a real, solidified chance to occur. And sure, kissing and caressing is a part of that, but it is dependent on the understanding, to be worth anything. Most young adult novels will have you believe there's an invisible connection that, SOMEHOW, no one can put into words. Maybe sometimes that does happen, but not all the darn time. The thing is, young adults are capable of this deeper connection with other young adults, and that deeper connection doesn't even have to incorporate romantic feels. I was just enormously disappointed in the portrayal of the young persons ability to think, love, and understand deeply. Another New York Times bestseller portraying love as soft-core porn. I'm sorry, but that's what the romance/harlequin section is for. You can get that there. And don't exploit teenagers raging hormones to keep them reading. That's just cheap. I just really wished that this series could have portrayed how existential and inspiring teens can be, instead I got the same ole stuff about teens want to kiss hot people. Shame.
Final Notes: It's hard to read a series and not compare it to others. Some that come to mind: A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Hunger Games, the holy grail of YA series' Harry Potter, and Twilight. The Twilight series is the most comparable to this series. What separates Twilight from Mortal Instruments is the writing style. Obviously the story is different too, with different factors and foes. I feel like Cassandra Clare tried to go for a clever writing style with unique similes, comparisons, and references. Ultimately it fell short of the intended writing style. Go ahead and reference Bosch paintings, Edward Gorey drawings, and quote Virgil. It doesn't improve the storyline. I like to think while reading someone looked up those references, if they were unfamiliar, but that is perhaps the only positive factor gleaned from reading this series. Also, can I just say, there were too many extra... formatting embellishments? There was a quote at the beginning of the book, before each Part, and every chapter was titled. TOO MUCH. I get it, I like quotegarden too, but for goodness sake I don't need every quote they have available on demons and death in one series!
In short, The Mortal Instruments Series is a semi-entertaining distraction. It will not make you question your morals or your place in the world. It will keep you safely nestled in mainstream thinking. It's not provocative or inspiring. It's a series of books. That's pretty much it.

Letter to the author:
Dear Cassandra Clare,
Girl. You have a massive potential. Your series The Mortal Instruments holds so much potential, it might explode. And let me just say, writing six books averaging around 400 to 500 pages is a feat. I give you major props for that. I just feel like you sold yourself short! I know your better than this; it's suggested by your characters clever speech and some high dollar references.  I look forward to the last book and to the first movie. I hope that you continue to write and grow as an individual and as an author. Push your limits. Realize, and then accomplish, your full potential in future works. Thank you for your work.
-From a reader
Links:
Author- Cassandra Clare, author's tumblr
Website- shadowhunters.com
Trailer for the first movie- City of Bones


HEY! What did you think of The Mortal Instruments? Do you agree with me or is it cheese to your macaroni? Let's voice some well-reasoned opinions in the comments!

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