Monday, February 07, 2011

Mortal Instruments

City of Bones is the first of three books in Cassandra Clare's young adult urban fantasy trilogy, The Mortal Instruments. City of Bones is about a fifteen-year old girl named Clary Fray, whose search for her missing mother leads her into an alternate New York called Downworld, filled with mysterious faeries, hard-partying warlocks, not-what-they-seem vampires, an army of werewolves, and the demons who want to destroy it all. She also finds herself torn between two boys — her best friend, Simon, for whom she’s developing new feelings, and the mysterious demon hunter, Jace. She becomes a part of the secret world of the demon hunters, or Nephilim, and as she does she discovers that rescuing her mother might mean putting their whole world in jeopardy. City of Bones is followed by the second book, City of Ashes, and the third, City of Glass. - adapted from author's website

The long break over Chinese New Year afforded me some time to make a dent in the pile of books I brought home from the bigbadwolf sale last year. To be honest, I mainly picked up the books because of the covers. They have one of the most interesting covers last year. Plus, I've actually read about Clare in my blog-hopping journey and knew that she is originally a well-known fan fiction writer in the Harry Potter fandom. And definitely you can see some similarities here; the three mortal instruments vs the deathly hallows for one. I can't seem to remember anything else right now LOL.

At first glance, I thought this would be something like Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Well, with a word like "Downworld" + New York, who can resist making a connection to London Below? And there the familiarity ends. Readers are thrown into an action-packed world with shadowhunters acting as the world's defender again demons and keeping the other Downworlders (vampires, warlocks, werewolves etc) in line.

Clare has created quite a well-rounded protagonist in Clarissa "Clary" Fray. She's brave, inquisitive and powerful, but still a girl prone to rash actions and can be quite useless in certain situations. Clare has also developed Clary's two love interest quite well - nerdy Simon and sarcastic Jace, two guys with a kind heart and both fighting for Clary's attention. However, it's a shame that Clare has failed to develop Alec and Isabella Lightwood, Jace's closest friends. Alec mostly stays in the background that I sometimes forget he exists while Isabella is so shallowly potrayed. I would've loved it if she had paid more attention to them.

The series is abound with plot twists. One thing can suddenly turn into another and it can sometimes feel like you're watching a Malay telenovella LOL. And some of the plots will raise the eyebrows of more conservative readers e.g. almost incestuous thoughts (which is actually one of the major plot lines of the series - don't worry, there's a happy ending for everyone :P )

I definitely enjoyed reading the series, especially the witty dialogue spouted by the characters (Jace and Simon can be hilarious when arguing) and the many references to pop-culture. Originally a trilogy, Clare has decided to expand the world and a second trilogy will be released starting from this year. Clare has also started a prequel series, The Infernal Devices, with A Clockwork Angel being published last year (I love the cover of this book :D ). Can't wait to get my hands on the rest of them!

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