Young-adult, steam-punk in Victorian England - what's not to like? Turns out, everything.
I'll begin by saying I'm a fan of Cassandra Clare. I read her...moreYoung-adult, steam-punk in Victorian England - what's not to like? Turns out, everything.
I'll begin by saying I'm a fan of Cassandra Clare. I read her Harry Potter fan-fiction before I read her published work and loved it. Despite allegations of plagiarism in the Draco Veritas series, I really did and do believe that Clare has talent enough to stand on her own. That said, I was understandably excited to read her Mortal Instruments series. I did and I while loved it, I couldn't help thinking that it still read like Harry Potter fan-fiction. The fiery red-headed protagonist of the book was obviously Ginny Weasley. Silver-tongued, pompous Jace was Draco. Bespectacled Simon was a dark, brooding Harry Potter. There was even a scene or two directly taken from her fan-fiction (the one I remember in particular was the description of Jace's relationship with his father through a parable about a pet hawk).
All writers have their muses. I can forgive Clare for using these much beloved characters from Harry Potter (which she arguably made her own in her fan-fiction) in her first few books. The Harry Potter series was hugely influential in getting her to write her own series. And she carried it off gracefully in the Mortal Instruments series with an original plot and serious writing talent. That said, I feel like all the same characters were rehashed in this book and not as memorably.
Again, in this book there is a love triangle. The problem with this love-triangle though is that I didn't care about any of the characters in it. Will (read Jace) came off not as mysteries, aloof, clever and handsome, but as an ass. All the reader's information about him comes from his own lengthy diatribes about himself, making us mistrust everything he says. He delivered so many witty one-liners, I began to feel like he was on stage doing stand-up comedy and not really trying to actually converse with the other characters. Jem, a one-dimensional version of Simon, was always calm, provided steady advice and companionship and only seemed there to reaffirm Tessa's own feelings about situations. In short, he was a bore. The back-story of his torture, his parents deaths and his drug addiction made his demeanor even more implausible. He did not come off as dark or tortured, but as a wet-blanket. Tessa was even more obtuse than Clary over the fact that these two boys desired her and was so starry-eyed and innocent, I found nothing about her relatable or likable. The older characters in the book came off as being in their forties despite the fact that Clare claims they're only in their early twenties.
Another thing that irked me were Clare's descriptions of London. In the Mortal Instruments series, New York was described so vividly and in detail that it was like a character in its own right. The descriptions of hidden churches, cemeteries, the East River, buildings, bookstores and underground werewolf bars all wove a rich-tapestry around the characters. In this book, London is consistently described as dreary, rainy, gray, overcrowded, insidious and depressing. Few actual places are mentioned by name and most of the action happens between the Dark sisters' house and the Institute and we get very little sense of the outside. Gone are all those charming details that made the first books such a rollicking, fun adventure. There is no seedy, supernatural underground in this book. London is the underground.
By the end of the book, I was just trying to slog through it. I wanted to throw Will off a roof for being such an smart arse. I wanted to throw Tessa off the same roof for pursuing someone with no redeeming qualities, save outward beauty. And I didn't even care enough about Jem to care what he did with himself and a hypothetical roof.
Also, in regards to Will. I'm so tired of girls falling for boys who treat them terribly in YA books. In real-life, if someone sabotages your car so you can't leave (see Edward in Twilight) or puts off your advances and makes you feel like an idiot most of the time (see Will), they are either abusive or not worth your time. They are not dark and mysteries; they are emotionally stunted.
Maybe it was only because I had such high-hopes for this book, that I felt such keen disappointment after reading it, but I'm really looking forward to the day when Clare breaks out of the Harry Potter box and pursues something new in her writing.(less)