“Get in Loser, We’re Going Condemning Incest”: Rereading The Mortal Instruments series

City of Bones, Book 1

As with most of the Shadowhunter books (I’ve previously reviewed each book in the Infernal Devices series!), I flew through this book with relative ease. I felt like I remembered most of the plot of this book from when I first read this series a whole ass decade ago, and overall, this book is kind of just setting up the characters, the world of Shadowhunters, and the stakes that will come into play over the course of the series. I originally read this as a teen and loved this series, and viewed the whole “Are Clary and Jace really siblings?!” thing through the lens that CC wants the reader to, which is a play on the forbidden love troupe. As an adult, it feels much, much weirder to me that she would even make this a THING (much less the premise of her first book in a series!). WHAT is the motivation behind making the lead love interests even THINK they are siblings?! It’s strange! Of course I know how this will end up, so it feels more…okay/allowed (?) to root for them, but it’s not as easy as a leap to make for me now as it was when I was a teen. Nevertheless, I was still touched by the greenhouse scene– though I have to say that overall, Jace is a LOT less charming than I recall him being. Maybe because we don’t see that side of him until later? In this first book, he’s much more aloof and rough around the edges than I recall. Or maybe it’s simply because I’m coming off reading CC’s prequel series, which in my opinion is far superior, and compared to Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs, Jace feels immature, young, and silly. I’m hoping that CC allows these characters to grow and mature over the course of TMI series, because I don’t remember them feeling this young…but when I first read it, I was that young too! So who knows.
But let me briefly touch on our side characters. Alec is horrible to Clary (he SLAPS her?!) and Simon is also horrible to Clary (he yells at her after she kisses Jace out of jealousy…and this is after she lost her mother, who is possibly dead, and her father figure, like…three days ago?!) His whole, I have loved you for years so therefore I deserve to be with you/I own you vibe is NOT IT. I’m not going to lie, I tend to skim read any scene he is in. I really hate him. However, Izzy, of course, is perfect and can do no wrong. One book down, five(?!) to go. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, when it comes to fan casting– it’s all about the movie Clary and Jace, and the tv show Alec and Izzy. No further questions please.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
MVP: This one is hard because I feel like for the most part, they are all children playing at an adult’s game. Should they not have just a little more supervision?!?! So I guess I’d have to say Clary, since she is our heroine and the one we are ultimately rooting for.
Favorite Scene: The scene when Luke explains the entire backstory of the plot (LOL) and how we got here; Who Valentine is, who the Circle was, how him and Clary’s mom got involved with Valentine, and the aftermath of realizing just how terrible Valentine was and how he literally created a cult. And how Luke found Jocelyn again!
Favorite Quote: He smelled of salt and blood, and only when his mouth came close to her ear did she understand what he was saying, what he has been whispering before, and it was the simplest litany of all: her name, just her name.

City of Ashes, Book 2

The second book of the Mortal Instruments series was mostly kind of frustrating and at times, boring. Sure, there is the angst of Clary and Jaces’ feelings for one another, though they can’t be together because they believe they are literal siblings, but the whole SIBLINGS thing kind of leaves a weird feeling, even if you know the truth. What I recalled from this book was that 1) Simon and Clary would date, and 2) there would be a Clary/Jace “forbidden” kiss at the faerie court. Let me just say..the Simon/Clary relationship was even more cringey than the idea of a sibling romance, YES I SAID IT, that is quite literally how bad it is. As for the kiss in the faerie court, and the entire faerie court scene, it really wasn’t as magical as I recalled from when I read this series a decade ago. I think it was because there’s literally an entire court of faeries AND Simon AND Izzy watching them as they kiss?!? Yet they still get THAT into it….like forget everyone else is there kind of kiss…I–…don’t even know. And ABOUT SIMON…he is so unbelievably intolerable in this book! He so desperately clings to Clary as his “girlfriend”, and when it’s clear that’s not going to work out, he just so happens to becomes a vampire and somehow continues to be the most annoying individual in the entire series. I really don’t understand how he does it, except to acknowledge that these are actual children. Izzy is once again given next to nothing to do in this book, and all Alec does is apparently lead Magnus on, though we don’t even get to see or Magnus but for a few snippets of their interactions, and also Alec freaks out anytime someone tries to out him (which is warranted, but it’s like a repetitive thing and I don’t really get why CC writes this in multiple scenarios.) Also, side note, I hate this kind of writing in YA: “Jace suggested that the cast of Gilligan’s Island could do something anatomically unlikely to themselves.” JUST LET JACE SAY FUCK…FOR FUCKS SAKE!

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
MVP: Clary and Simon got exponentially more annoying in the book. Jace is warming up to me, but still comes off as rash and young. Izzy, Magnus, and Alec are barely in it. So my MVP is Luke who is dependable and is literally just running around NYC trying to keep these literal children in line. Sigh.
Favorite Scene: In general, I really enjoyed the parts where Jace would get protective over Clary, while also trying to hide his true feelings, like when he demanded that they could not and would not take her to the Seelie/faerie court without him there
Favorite Quotes: When Clary tells Valentine, “No. And don’t quote the Bible at me. I don’t think you get it” and when Jace tells Clary “Every time you die, I almost die myself.” I’m sorry! The simplicity yet intense romance of that statement! I hate it but I love it?!

City of Glass, book 3

City of Glass was definitely my favorite of the books so far on a reread, though I started out being YET AGAIN annoyed with Clary for (basically doing exactly what Jace will accuse her of later in the book in an effort to push her away), which is being incredibly childish when she doesn’t get her way, creating and going through a Portal, and endangering her and Luke’s lives. I GET that she is trying to save her mother, and was acting on a feeling that SHE needed to be the one to go to Idris to meet Ragnor Fell, but it was the way she handled it that made me, once again, realize she is like 15-16 years old. It doesn’t help that we later find out that she pretty much led Sebastian/Valentine straight to Fell and resulted in his death, so really, she did not need to be the one to go. Although, given her powers and the way she manipulates Valentine’s plan to ask Raziel for a favor, it is quite lucky that she was in fact there, I suppose.
Overall, the plot of the book, perhaps given the new setting of Idris, felt really fresh and interesting. I kind of wished we could have spent more time roaming the streets and getting to know the city’s characteristics and vibe a little better, but my gut tells me CC was still trying to figure this out as she wrote this book, and I’m hopeful that we will return to Idris in other Shadowhunter books in the future. The build-up of tension throughout the book, leading to Jace and Clary’s reunion, to Clary and her mother’s reunion, to the big battle, to FINALLY FINDING OUT JACE IS A HERONDALE- oh and also they are not, in fact, siblings (!) was extraordinarily well done and made this book a major page-turner. The introduction of Sebastian as a villain is also sublime, and added some major depth to the series. He is clearly the antithesis of Jace, and I know it will be interesting to see this play out over the course of the next part of the series.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
MVP: My girl Clary is annoying as hell YES but she really pulled off the last-minute trickery on Valentine, simply because of how much he underestimated her, and for that, I have to give it to her.
Done Dirty: I have to say Max for obvious reasons, but also Amatis?!? She lost her husband who was manipulated by Valentine into dumping her and marrying someone else, then she lost her brother to Werewolf-ism, then she lost her good friend, Clary’s mom, who essentially fled the scene. She lost everyone and has just had to chill in the Shadowhunter capital for decades alone….and for WHAT? WHAT WAS THE REASON?
Favorite Scene: 1) OBVIOUSLY the meadow (?) scene, where Jace and Clary are laying outside of the remains of the Wayland estate, and they are confessing their feelings for one another. 2) the scene where he comes into her window to spend their last night together is so soft. 3) Amatis telling Jace about his true father, Stephen Herondale, who she loved deeply and she is now suddenly being faced with his long lost son. Her handing over all the little tokens and special items she had of Stephen’s left to Jace was equally moving and heartbreaking… but I’m nothing if not a sucker for Herondale men. 4) ON a lighter note, the absolute hilarity of the scene when Jace first sees Sebastian with Valentine, and he thinks they’re dating…CC said you WILL think of incest throughOUT these books, baby!!!
Least Favorite Scene: Adding this for this book only because WHY DID MAX HAVE TO DIE? It literally lent NOTHING to the plot. Not a single motive was significantly advanced due to this. And also, Izzy and Alec are allowed to do 15 seconds of mourning before moving on and making jokes. Call it what it is…sloppy and unrealistic and pointless plot device.
Favorite Quotes: “There’s no pretending” Jace said with absolute clarity. “I love you, and I will love you until I die, and if there’s a life after that, I’ll love you then.” The Herondale genes JUMPED OUT!
“And in some way, Clary thought, he meant it, meant his gratitude. He had long ago lost the ability to distinguish between force and cooperation, between fear and willingness, between love and torture. And with that realization came a rush of numbness—what was the point of hating Valentine for being a monster when he didn’t even know he was one?”

What next?

Next I’ll be reading the “second” trilogy in the Mortal Instruments series, so come back to this post for updates as I read through those books! I’m pretty sure I read the first one or two..but I actually have no idea how this series ends?! Honestly, I’m just trying to get to books with more Jem Carstairs in them already.

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