In honor of the release of City of Fallen Angels, the fourth book in the Mortal Instruments series, as well as the fact that I can’t talk about it yet because SOME PEOPLE still need to finish it, I figured I’d take the opportunity to explain why you need to be reading this series.
To summarize briefly, The Mortal Instruments is an urban fantasy series about a 15-year-old girl named Clary who discovers she’s connected to a hidden world inhabited by people called Shadowhunters. The Shadowhunters use angelic weaponry and magical tattoos to fight demons, of which there are a surprising lot in New York City. Not to mention faeries, werewolves, vampires, and probably a lot of other things (except mummies. Obviously.). Clary learns the truth about her family and navigates relationships as she and her new friends uncover a sinister plot that could destroy everything.
And from there, shit just gets crazier.
You should know that Cassandra Clare (or Cassie, as her fans know her. And we like Cassies here at Bibliomantics, if you couldn’t tell!) is well on her way to establishing herself in the YA world. Her 26,900 followers on Twitter can perhaps be considered a small clue to her success, as well as the fact that she can’t seem to write a book that doesn’t make it onto some best-sellers list or another. Or several.
All she needs now is a blockbuster movie based on her books… oh wait, that’s in the works too!
With adorable (not to mention appropriately freckled) Lily Collins tagged for spunky protagonist Clary Fray, and some as-of-yet-unknown-but-bound-to-be-smokin’-hot(and-probably-it’s-Alex-Pettyfer) person just waiting to be cast as Jace, not to mention all the cool fight scenes, monsters, and promising news in regards to the soundtrack and capturing the New York vibe, it has occured to me that regardless of how this film actually turns out, it’ll be hella fun to watch!
So, if you want to be one of the cool people who can say they read the book before the movie came out, you better get on this now.
As someone who wants to be a writer someday (I know we’ve all heard that one before), I find Cassie Clare’s success to be really inspirational. I think it comes down to a lot of factors, a huge one being the way Cassie maintains a strong online presence and constantly reaches out to her fans. She’s on Twitter every day with book news and other updates, as well as hosting discussions about reading and writing in general. She also does these awesome Q and A sessions where her followers can ask any character a question and she answers as that character. Which has given us gems like:
Q: First thing you would say meeting a girl you like?
Will: Top off, knickers down, my bedroom’s this way, don’t trip on the stairs.
Q: What if I tell you that I don’t really like you, & I prefer Simon?
Jace: The world is full of people with bad taste.
(or related: Q: How much do you dislike Simon? Jace: Eleven.)
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Alec?
Magnus: The eyes & hair. My favorite. Oh, right. Personality. Definitely that.
She also keeps us interested (or tortured, sometimes) by publishing “cookies” on the internet once a month–short excerpts from her upcoming books, usually just enough to make you go, “HOLY CRAP, I NEED TO READ THE REST OF THAT SCENE, AAAH!!”
Which brings me to my next point on why Cassie Clare is so successful: because she is so goddamn EVIL.
And I mean that with the utmost respect and in the best way possible, of course. Cassie Clare’s writing is the epitome of what I love about YA fiction. Sure, the world she has created is pretty amazing, and the situations are always very complex and intense, but what is most interesting about it is watching how her characters respond to what happens to them. Or I think it would be more accurate to say, feeling how her characters respond.
They get in fights, or they fall in love, or they say things they don’t mean, and they lose each other, and they find each other, and Cassie always manages to pick just the right thing to happen that makes your heart feel like it’s twisting in two. It’s almost like an out-of-body experience, because I can see myself flying through the pages like a maniac, visibly upset due the events of the book, but at the same time a part of me, I guess the part that wants to be a writer, sits back with a small smile and thinks, “Oh yes, well played, Ms. Clare. Well played indeed.”
Which isn’t to say the books aren’t also hilarious, because Jace’s and Simon’s one-liners (and I’m sure they would hate me listing them in the same category this way) make me crack up like very few books too. Besides being a master of EVIL (i.e. angst), Cassie Clare is one of the snarkiest author’s on the planet, and it’s awesome. Her books often get called “Buffy-esque,” and it’s not just because they’re about kids fighting monsters. I think if Joss Whedon had any effect on Cassie Clare, it was to inspire her to cultivate a well-appreciated talent for sass.
Just a couple of my favorite examples:
“I don’t want to be a man. I want to be an angst-ridden teenager who can’t confront his own inner demons and takes it out verbally on other people instead.”
-Jace, City of Ashes
“Have you tried talking to her?”
“No. We have been punching her in the face repeatedly. What, you don’t think that will work?”
-Jace and Simon, City of Glass
“I’m interested in getting my apartment back. I’m tired of you cleaning all the time.” Magnus snapped his fingers again, menacingly. “Get up.”
“Or you’ll be the next one to go up in smoke,” said Simon with relish.
“There’s no need to clarify my finger snap,” said Magnus. “The implication was clear in the snap itself.”
-Magnus and Simon, City of Ashes
Not that traditional princess behavior was like Isabelle at all. Isabelle with her whip and boots and knives would chop anyone who tried to pen her up in a tower into pieces, build a bridge out of the remains, and walk carelessly to freedom, her hair looking fabulous the entire time.
-Clary, City of Ashes
“‘Hello’ is girly,” he informed her. “Real men are terse. Laconic. That’s why when major badasses greet each other in movies, they don’t say anything, they just nod. The nod means, ‘I am a badass, and I recognize that you, too, are a badass.”
-Simon, City of Bones
“Nice, bah. He’s gorgeous.” Magnus gazed dreamily in his direction. “You should leave him here. I could hang hats on him and things.”
-Magnus, City of Glass
“Not everything, Jace, is about you,” Clary said furiously.
“Possibly,” Jace said, “but you have to admit that the majority of things are.”
-Clary and Jace, City of Glass
Etc, etc. Shortly put, Cassie Clare writes books that you want to read, from beginning to end, as soon as you pick them up.
With Clockwork Angel, the first book in her new Infernal Devices “trilogy” (I’ll believe it when I see it), Cassie showed us her world 150 years before the Mortal Instruments series takes place, and officially brought it to a whole new level of complexity. Seeing elements of Clockwork Angel crop up in City of Fallen Angels was particularly exciting. And word on the street is that she’s planning a whole other Shadowhunter series to be called The Dark Artifices.
Basically, we’ve got at least four more books coming out, and even then the end does not appear to be in sight. I have a whole theory about this: I think because Cassie used to write fanfiction she can’t help but continuously expand her own story. I also think (and this has been previously discussed on a Bibliomantics post) that due to some sort of cultural/literary shift or another that may or may not have to do with Harry Potter, authors are now more likely simply to think of their stories in terms of sequels–in terms of there being more to tell than can be properly captured in a single book.
Regardless of the reason, I sure as hell am not complaining. In a way it also reminds me of Terry Pratchett as well as the late and beloved Diana Wynne Jones, who created worlds and just kept writing more and more stories about them. I think it’s really wonderful to read a book like that, where everything is familiar and new at the same time, and your heart gives an excited little jump whenever you spot a connection.
So seriously, what are you doing?? Trust me, this is the funnest bandwagon you’ll ever jump on.
For more Shadowhunter shenanigans, check out Cassie’s website and follow her on Twitter: