For the August Diva Chat, Write Divas is discussing the popular young adult fantasy series, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, in anticipation of the movie release later this month. Clare published City of Bones, the first book in this series, in 2007. Since then, the series has grown to include five books with a sixth planned for 2014. The series has inspired The Bane Chronicles (a spin-off), Infernal Devises (a three book prequel), and The Dark Artifices (a sequel planned for release in 2015).
The series centers on fifteen-year-old Clary Fray who discovers the secret world of Shadowhunters, warriors trying to rid the world of demons. Clary is plunged into a magical world of vampires, werewolves, faeries, and everything that goes bump in the night. She joins with a band of Shadowhunters and learns the world she lives isn’t what she thought.
Diva Chat Panel
Janine, Chief Executive Diva
Favorite: City of Glass
Least Favorite: City of Ashes (I only read the first and part of the second.)
Shay, Chief Creative Diva
Favorite: City of Glass
Least Favorite: City of Ashes
Jen, Chief Financial Diva
Favorite: City of Glass
Least Favorite: City of Ashes ( I only read the first three.)
Lauren, Chief Operations Diva
Favorite: City of Glass
Least Favorite: City of Fallen Angels
This series is hugely popular with teens and romance readers. It is a series that features almost every creature known to the fantasy genre and has been both praised and criticized for it. The author is a former fan fiction author, which has created its own brand of controversy in the past.
What is it about this series that is so appealing?
Shay: I found the premise unusual and interesting. Clare did a fabulous job world building. It was intriguing to have mortal protagonists fighting supernatural creatures.
Lauren: In my opinion the series is so popular because of the world that Clare has built in her books. You can tell she’s researched well. It lends to the viability of the story lines in the end. She also has the quintessential love triangle. People eat that stuff up.
Jen: It’s got supernatural, it’s got werewolves, it’s got vampires… What more could the YA audience ask for? Girls have Clary to relate to with her parental angst and her boy issues. Guys have the werewolves and vampires and demons and violence and magic… you get my point. There’s a lot to attract both male and female audiences.
Does the plethora of mythical creatures make the story more diverse or does it muddy the waters with too much of a good thing?
Shay: No, I loved the variety. It keeps the series from getting pigeonholed. When a series focuses on one supernatural creature, that series quickly become irrelevant when that creature falls out of favor with readers. Clare was smart. Her story will weather the fickleness of readers because of the variety.
Lauren: I didn’t feel like it muddied up the story at all. I was able to follow along and keep things straight. As long as the you had the main protagonist and antagonist down, I think all the other mythical creatures were just part of the world building.
Jen: To be honest, yeah, I thought there was just too much. While reading the second book in the series, I wondered if the series jumped the shark with Simon being turned into a vampire. And with book three, the different layers of demons made my eyes cross. Perhaps it was the differentiation among the downworlders and mystical creatures that made it hard to follow; every group was separate and distinct with new rules.
Clary and Jace: What makes their relationship so good and not so good?
Shay: The UST. Loved the unresolved sexual tension. Jace was an ass… and I have a weakness for that type of character. What I hated was the trip to “we’re related-ville.” It was at that moment that their love became squicky and the characters became gross in their longing for one another. Totally could’ve done without that.
Lauren: What was so good is the love-hate relationship they started off with. Then to me it got silly when they thought they were siblings. I figured they weren’t really siblings, which we find out later they aren’t, but Jace was the main male protagonist for Clary, it felt weird rooting for them as siblings. So incestuous.
Jen: I loved the animosity between Clary and Jace in the beginning. It was clear there was chemistry there, and then, oops, they’re brother and sister. I was sure they weren’t actually related, but the “are they or aren’t they?” conflict did wonders to up the angst. Plus it allowed the reader to learn more about them both as people as they fought it, considered giving in to it, and then fought it even harder. I think it made their growth apparent and their relationship ultimately stronger.
Genre: This series is YA, which is notorious for using the same plot lines, devices, cliches and stereotypes over and over again. Is this series guilty of this practice? What has it done to differentiate itself from other YA series available on the market?
Shay: Hell yes. Can I just say “love triangle?” I despise love triangles and this series had one. But that said, there was enough of the intrigue factor to keep me reading when normally I would’ve thrown up my hands, shut down my Kindle, and walked away grumbling. I wanted to know more about this world that Clare had built.
Lauren: YES. It’s not different from other popular YA books on the market. There are the same cliches and plot devices. But again, I’ll go back to the world building, I think Clare really hit a home run with this world she made. It really carries the story.
Jen: Yes, yes, yes. The love triangle, the single mother, closeted gay teen, the dorky friend who’s in love with the heroine… I could on. There are so many Harry Potter similarities it’s disturbing. However, the world she built was extensive, the characters have depth and layers, and there are intriguing plot twists.
There is a 3 book prequel, Infernal Devices, a spin-off, The Bane Chronicles, and a sequel series, The Dark Artifices, planned to tell more of the Mortal Instruments story. Are you planning to read these as well? Why or why not?
Shay: Yes, if I can ever find the time. I like this world Clare has built and I want more of it.
Lauren: I have read the first two books in the Infernal Devices series. I liked them a lot. Clare did an excellent job putting hints into the MI series that pulled from the time frame the ID was based. You see Magnus Bane in the ID series along with Will Herondale who is briefly mentioned by Magnus in the MI books. I liked the connection. The world is still very rich in these books, taking place in turn of the century London.
Jen: I don’t have any plans to read this series as they are set in Victorian England and I’m not a fan of historical fiction. From what I’ve heard, the writing is dramatically better in Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince than it was in The Mortal Instruments series, so that may sway my opinion.
Give us one last thing you’d like to say about this series – any topic.
Shay: I really appreciated how Clare opened the first book in the series. I think that opening scene is something that new authors should take note of. It’s fast paced and draws the reader in. She had me hooked within pages. Job well done. Like Lauren and Jen, I also felt the series ended with book three.
Lauren: I really enjoyed the Mortal Instruments series. But I will say I was annoyed that Clare continued past the third book. It felt like a good ending there, but the fourth book felt almost like filler, like she found success and wanted to keep going with it. I can see now in the fifth book where the story progressed, but I think it may have been a little too much.
Jen: Agreeing with Lauren; the series seemed complete at the end of book three. There didn’t seem to be a need to continuation. Other than that, I can’t comment, though, since I didn’t read past book three. The other issue I had with the series was Simon becoming a vampire. I just saw this as overkill, a way to make sure her best friend and potential love interest would fit in better with the supernatural world Clary found herself in. I think the struggle could have been more realistic if he’d remained completely and utterly normal.
The Divas seem to agree that Cassandra Clare did a wonderful job creating a rich and fulfilling world for The Mortal Instruments. The chemistry and UST between Clary and Jace was spot on and seemed to give the series the right about of angst, despite Clare’s decision to throw in a little incestuous twist. And while the series isn’t perfect, it is a wonderful first-time effort on Clare’s part in creating a series that appealed to the young adult and romance reading markets alike.
I’d like to thank the divas for participating in the Diva Chat. Their contributions and insights are appreciated.
If you’d like to add your views of The Mortal Instruments series, please leave a comment below. We’d love to know what you think.