To Read or Not to Read?

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I read the first three books in the Mortal Instruments series back when the third one came out, thinking the trilogy was complete. And then I was looking around the internet a few months ago and saw that the sixth book in the series was to come out this year. So what did I have to do? Reread the first three books so I can catch up and finish off the series. And with the popularity of the books and the addition of Goodreads I’ve learned quite a bit more about Cassandra Clare and the beef that so many readers seem to have with her. So after my rereading I figured I should actually write a review of the books.

To me, now and then, the premise of the Mortal Instruments series was very interesting. You have a female protagonist (which is almost always nice because I find it easier to get into the mind of a female lead) who thinks she’s an ordinary human and she soon finds out she is not. Enter the world of Shadowhunters (demon killers), Downworlders (your vampires, werewolves, etc.) and demons. They all have hierarchies and their own worlds and I was very intrigued to see how Clary handles it when this whole new world opens up to her.

When I first read the series I loved it. I was not a part of Goodreads and I didn’t really read reviews before I picked up books. Instead I just wandered around the library and took home things that looked interesting. Now I know more.

Apparently Cassandra Clare used to be a pretty big name in the world of Harry Potter fanfiction. (Which is really weird that I had never come across some of her stories because I have gotten pretty far into the wormhole that is Harry Potter fanfiction. Hell, I’m even to the point where I write my own but I digress). But it seems that when Clare was into fanfiction she liked to take quotes and passages from other people, either their fanfiction pieces or quotes from popular shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and inserted them into her fanfiction without attributing them to the original writer. So basically plagiarism. Which, as a fanfiction writer and an aspiring author myself, I know is a very bad thing.

But I’m sure she’s learned her lesson (do you really think an agent/editor wouldn’t have learned about the issue and then did everything to make sure there weren’t any problems in the published pieces?) I don’t think that’s an issue when you look at the series that did end up getting published, i.e. The Mortal Instruments. Sure there are some similarities to popular books and shows but what show/book hasn’t been influenced by things that have come before it?

The major points I see people taking offense to include (and I won’t mention the ones that could spoil the book for others): Valentine is like Voldemort because both V’s wanted “pure” worlds and surrounded themselves by weaker followers that they pretended to be friends with. Those two are similar but who else does that sound like? Hitler, maybe? And I’m sure there have been dozens of other literary and historical figures who have followed the same path. There’s also parts where when a Shadowhunter sees a building it looks all nice but normal humans would see a hovel or something. That sounds a little like Harry Potter but also like any other story about magic where there are things like “glamours.” I could go on and on and link things that people say remind them of Harry Potter but in truth you can find links between so many things in this day and age. Just to name a few: Gandalf is Dumbledore is Obi Wan Kenobi. Luke Skywalker is Harry Potter is Eragon is Clary.

It happens because, as I think I heard/learned somewhere, is that there are only like seven major arcs in storytelling but there are millions of stories that are being told so it only makes since that things overlap sometimes. And in this case I don’t find so many similarities that it puts me off.

I like Clary and Jace and their eccentricities and issues. I like that the Shadowhunter world is flawed and that there are quite a few people who are judgmental and borderline “racist” (maybe “speciest” is a better word since it’s Shadowhunters looking down upon vampires and vice versa, etc.) because although it’s not nice it does reflect how a society would really work. And I will read the series and if I like it then that is all that matters.

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