Sunday, October 26, 2014

Book review : The Mortal Instruments book 1 & 2

So the lovely Kariss sent me these 2 books as part of the equally lovely Char's blogger book swap.  I'd said I'd liked adult supernatural stuff so she got my tastes pretty right when she sent me these.
Spoilers ahead.

The front cover has an endorsement by Stephanie Meyer which sets the the tone for this series. If you like Twilight you'll prolly like these. It's about a teenager called Clary who finds herself part of an underground world of magic, werewolves, vampires, demons and demon hunters. Clary thinks she's plain looking, but clearly is very pretty. She's also clumsy and has two other teenage boys lusting after her. The magic boy is snooty, dangerous, unbelievably beautiful and a bit of a rude prick, if I'm honest.  The other boy is a regular mortal and has been her friend since they were toddlers.  Sound familiar? It should do!

This book is riding hard on the coattails of Twilight. Having said that, it is pretty enjoyable, in a trashy way. I like trash, I loved twilight. Both series are good escapist rubbish.

These books are better written than Twilight, the prose is better, but they aren't as engrossing, somehow Twilight plot was more gripping. Clary is also more three dimensional than Bella, as are the rest of the characters.  There are plot twists in here that I genuinely didn't see coming, and there are plot twists I did see coming, a mile off.

The love triangle is a bit odd. The set up doesn't make you particularly support either boy, and then it's revealed that Clary and magic boy are siblings, yet they still clearly want to do each other.  This is odd because the book presents it as forbidden love but in the same way that other books say a fella from the wrong side of town is forbidden. It's weird. The book doesn't seem to acknowledge how creepy an incestuous romantic relationship is.  It's touched on, but it's not really felt throughout the pages.  Part of me suspects that this is because magic boy is clearly not really a blood relation of Clary, but is actually an elf. NB: by the end of book 2 this hasn't been confirmed, but it's fairly obvious it will be a book 3 reveal.

Now, love triangles and love anguish in YA fiction are usually there so readers can empathise with the heroine and the situation.  But why would a teenager want to fantasise about a forbidden love forbidden because the hot boy is your blood brother?? It's weird!  I'd be really interested to know what teen girls thought of this.  Maybe the writer wanted to rival Twilight's creepy love story (the baby and the werewolf imprinting on each other - less creepy than it sounds, but still an odd choice for the plot).

The other odd thing about the book is the introduction of magic boy and his two friends.  Considering we are meant to be rooting for these guys, their first scene paints them as bullying murderers.  We later find out they aren't really murderers as they are killing demons, but the whole bully thing is not really addressed.  I thought of Buffy when I was reading this.  Buffy explicitly tackled the joy-in-killing-demons thing and decided it was Not Good. This series, so far doesn't.

Now, I don't want my texts of choice to be morally 'correct', and I am quite happy being challenged, but I'd like them to tackle  the dodgy stuff, to be aware of it, and not just ignore them (unless that's a major theme of the book).  In this case it just reads like shallow writing.  All surface and no feeling.  Maybe not quite as bad as that.

So, it's a fun couple of books, set in a daft supernatural world, with ridiculous plots and odd choices in relationships.  Nonetheless it's a nice easy way to pass the time.  I shall be passing these on to a friend of mine who I am sure will get some trashy enjoyment out of them.

FWIW, my thoughts on Twilight (and The Hunger Games) are here.

No comments: