The Mortal Instruments is where the Shadowhunter world begins, and while the plots can get muddled and weird, readers will remain hooked for the drama, the relateble characters, and most importantly, Magnus “I am the best character in this series” Bane.
Series Rating: 4 Stars
FYI: This is a general review of the series as a whole and is SPOILER FREE!
I still remember when I first bought City of Bones, the first book in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. It was at a Borders Bookstore (anyone remember/still mourn Borders?) in Davis, California, back in the days before I had a mountainous TBR or even knew what TBR stood for. I can’t remember the exact year, but I’m pretty sure it was 2007 because I don’t remember there being any other TMI book on the shelves. Just City of Bones, with Jace’s golden and chiseled torso catching my eye.
The funny thing is, even though I consider the Shadowhunter books among my favorites, I didn’t even finish City of Bones the first time I tried to read it. I got maybe 100 pages in and gave up because it just DID NOT CLICK. And I think a lot of people have that issue when they try to start this series. I’ve talked to quite a few people who put COB on the DNF stack and never look back. But I did look back and the second time I picked up COB I was hooked forever.
The Mortal Instruments centers around Clary Fairchild, who suddenly finds herself in a world filled with dangerous demons and the angelic and arrogant Shadowhunters who fight them. Clary is a very polarizing character for many readers and even though I always found myself liking her, I also wanted to yell at her more than once. Then there is Jace, the obvious and obnoxious, yet still swoon worthy, love interest. Love him to bits, but that’s just because I have a book crush on any overly confident protector character. There are so many other characters I could go into, but we’d be here all day. The Mortal Instruments series is filled with mostly diverse and rich characters that bring this urban fantasy to life in such a way that it feels real. It is so easy to love or hate each character you meet through the series.
I love the vast landscape of supernatural creatures Clare brings to the story as well. There are vampires and werewolves and fae, OH MY! While many creatures may be familiar if you read a lot of urban fantasy novels, they still keep the story interesting. Having the novels set in New York grounds the fantasy in a great way and gives readers a good backdrop for their imagination.
I won’t go into any plot details because I’m keeping this review general and spoiler free, but there are good and bad story lines woven throughout this six book series. Sometimes I found myself devouring the pages because I could not get enough of what was happening, and other times I had to walk away because I was so annoyed by what was going on. Very few books are immune to this, but I’ve noticed that people get very intense with their criticism of plot for the Shadowhunter books. I found that I cared enough about the characters to always keep me coming back, even when I wasn’t happy with what was going on.
Overall, The Mortal Instruments is a great YA urban fantasy series and it will remain a heavy hitter in the YA bookish community for years to come. There are different schools of thought for the reading order of the Shadowhunter books due to interweaving story lines for the spin off series (You can find some helpful, non spoilery reading order options here). I will stand on this hill and say that readers should start with The Infernal Devices trilogy. I’ll explain this reasoning for this next week, when I do my Backlist review for The Infernal Devices aka the best Shadowhunter books!