Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderberry Books
Clary Fray is a normal teenage girl, until she sees an apparent murder in a club, and then her mother goes missing and she learns about the Nephilim -- half angel, half human demon hunters -- and that she is one of them. Clary will be thrown into a world of demons, werewolves, vampires, Fair Folk and warlocks. In the midst of this, she will fall in love, with perhaps the worst possible person...
Okay, I know most people who read this blog have long since read this series, but since I just blasted through it in a week and a half, I thought I'd do a Series Sunday and give my thoughts (trying to keep spoilers to a bare minimum). Keep in mind, I audiobooked the series, so a week and a half for five books is no slow pace.
To start, there weren't many twists for me in the first book, by virtue of the fact I saw the movie first. That's okay as it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the series.
Here are what I feel the series' strengths.
Characters: I have had issues with lead female characters fairly often, especially when she's a heroine up against the so-cool bad boy. I kind of expected to be irritated by Clary, but I'm not. I actually really like her. She does have her faults--and occasional bouts of horrible judgement or obliviousness (which I feel are more realistic than plot device)--but on the whole, she's well-developed and relatable. I care about her and empathize with her.
I heart Jace. The tormented jerk with a heart of gold. He's intelligent, surprisingly deep, snarky, but charming. He walks the line of too perfect, but he does enough aggravatingly stupid (and very guy) things while attempting to protect himself or others that he keeps (for me) from being too perfect. And don't jump on me when I say stupid.I mean it in a surprisingly good way. I don't find his bad decisions random or meaningless. They're real, believable, they're just bad decisions. Though I will say of the audiobook for City of Fallen Angels, the narrator gives Jace a Brooklyn accent that was sooo at odds with how I hear Jace in my head... not to mention quoting poetry in a Brooklyn drawl is just wrong. Stereotypical, yes, but true.
The supporting cast are equally as well-built and flawed, but in a way that works really well for me. Everyone makes bad decisions -- teenagers more than most -- but those decisions have consequences and fall out. I really enjoy Alec, Magnus, Isabelle and Simon.
Setting: I don't know NYC well, but I know that the author does. She knows in her mind exactly where everything is taking place and brings the city to life in a way that adds a great dimension to this world.
The magic: The magic system of the Nephilim is original and cool. The runes and the consequences of using them. I just thought it was a pretty unique idea. I really enjoy it. Although, I admit, as the series progresses on, the overall magic of the world is getting sort of loosely defined and little free-handed (the magically-traveling house, anyone?) However, still really love the runes.
The overall story arc is pretty good, too. Not blow me away with it's amazingness (in fairness, not much does from a plot standpoint), but strong.
Things I wish I had a little more of: Alec and Magnus. I got my fill in City of Lost Souls, but I wish I had a little more to establish them earlier in the series. I (being the crazy slashy fangirl I am), adore them, but even I have a hard time seeing how they came together. There is so little that seems to be common ground for them. I'd just like it built out a little more. They're rather fully developed individually, but as a pair, less so.
A minor pet peeve of mine is pop culture references. I dislike them in my books, because I think it can so very easily date the books. They're fun now, but if I want my kids to read them 10/15 years from now... they may not get them (or they'll be really dated). Even a silly thing like Clary's flip phone dates them slightly, and the first book came out in 2007. Yet almost every instance of someone using a cell phone mentions it being closed--how many people do you know who actually have flip phones anymore?
There's also a sort of continuity flub, almost. Isabelle is deathly terrified of anyone finding out Alec is gay, yet, once he comes out, it's a relatively minor event. Granted, there's a lot going on around the situation, but her extreme apprehension is at odds with the fact that there's virtually no fallout that isn't common to a mundane coming out after the fact. Alec isn't the main character, so taking time to highlight that may just not be in the cards for the series, but I would still expect to see a little more reaction.
My biggest issue with the books is: Spoiler
Maia and Jordan kind of irk me. Extenuating circumstances or no, something about her going back to him really rubs me the wrong way. Strangely, for me, worse than biting her (which I can buy as part of the first turning and whatnot), he hit her. And she gets back with him. I don't know if it's in spite of or especially because of her age that it bugs me, but I don't like it. Her loving him doesn't make him hitting her okay. There's also an age thing there--this happened when she was 14. She was introduced as 15, she was bitten about a year before. It just... it really rubs me the wrong way.
Overall, though, I'm really interested to see how this series resolves itself. It has far more strengths than weaknesses. I like Clary and Isabelle -- they're strong female role models, and pretty kicka$$ in their own rights. Simon is geek done right. Jace is Jace, charismatic and hard not to be drawn to. Although this is common in YA, the sheer uselessness of most of the adults is annoying (Luke notwithstanding).
Still, very worth the read, and I'm definitely looking forward to the last book and to the Infernal Devices.