Imagine a book so steampunk you are literally sprouting tattoos as you are reading it. Imagine a potent mix and match of anything that would make a teenager pick up a book from a shelf and read it. Vampires, werewolves, motorcycles, immortals, items to collect, a massive fight between good versus evil, teenagers with no parental supervision, cool tattoos, magic animals, portals between worlds, people trapped in dreams, oh… did I say demons, slayers, shadowhunters?
Yep, there are so many things in this little book I’m surprised it did not scream at me to pick it up.
What did I think of it? I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it either.
Probably I’m not in the right demographic anymore and that would explain partially my dislike for the cacophony of influences in this book. And there are at least 4 more to go! Well, it made at least enough money to be made into a movie! Following the lead from “Beautiful Creatures” and “Twilight”, we are looking at a cast involving at least one hunk. Their choice of the leading male heartthrob would not have been my own…
With memorable quotes as
“All the stories are real”
“Valentine is my father!?”
The story was so atrocious that I started predicting what characters would say next during the cheesiest scenes. 95% of the time, I hit the spot – word for word. When Jace said to Clary, “I told you I’d never met an angel…”, I said, “Please, for the love of god, don’t say: ‘now I have'”. He did. I died a little.
– There was zero character development. Clary had no personality – there was nothing that could identify this girl properly. She had no fighting skills and she was probably artistic like her mother because she drew a lot?
When she pulled the mortal cup out of the card in front of the witch who was obviously a demon, and then again in front of Hodge, she showed a little bit of stupidity. Clary was presented as the protagonist even though we were given no reason to root for her or care about her. It didn’t help that Lily Collins, while pretty, has no on-screen charisma. She was just a bland attractive girl. The other characters suffered equally.
Simon was nerdy and stuck in the friendzone, Isabelle liked slutty clothes and fighting, Valentine was evil, Hodge was sketchy, Luke was her mother’s friendzone friend and Jace was the standard romantic lead with a penchant for sappy lines and rescuing Clary. Beyond that, nothing.
– Words like ‘the Clave’, ‘the accord’, and others were thrown in with little explanation until the end of the book. The movie had nothing.
– We were expected to believe that the mortal cup was some kind of holy grail even though the explanations vary from a cup with Angel Blood that can make new shadowhunters to a powerful tool to make demons into shadowhunters. Quite a big gap. And all the characters know they should not go after the mortal cup but they still do. Even when told it had nothing to do with them.
– The weapons were ill-defined. They just did whatever the characters needed them to do at any given time – be it tattooing runes, slaying demons, or drilling magical peepholes through bookcases. They might as well have been Harry Potter wands.
– Clary inexplicably accuses Alec of being in love with Jace even though we saw no indication that he was even gay. Plus the love triangles in the book never seem to stop. Simon loves Clary. Clary loves Jace. Alec loves Jace. Isabelle loves Jace? Clary is jealous of Isabelle after thinking she and Jace were having a thing. Alec is jealous of Clary after Jace goes with her to retrieve Rat-Simon. Jace is jealous of Simon. Simon is jealous of Jace. Clary and Jace kiss once. Clary and Jace are siblings… ooops! Spoiler.
– The Clary and Jace romance felt forced. There was no build up. We were never shown why he would be attracted to her, or why she returned those feelings. When they finally kissed in the garden, it was uncomfortably awkward.
– In the movie, in a seemingly random act, Valentine wanted Clary to drink his blood from the cup and no one knew why. Said my friend at this point: “Is he Jesus?” . In the book he kidnapps Jace and then wants to kill Clary after singing his tune about the sympathy for the Devil.
– Loose ends. In the movie, Simon is bitten by a vampire. At no point in the film does anybody bother to tell him this. Even when he storms out of the institute, Clary doesn’t think to say, “By the way, a vampire bit you.” We waited for the effects of the bite to manifest – to find out if he was a vampire or not. But in the end, we were forced to conclude that in the world of The Mortal Instruments, being bitten by vampires only improves your eyesight. In the book, he was a rat for a bit longer and had no ill effects.
– The werewolves only existed to serve as expendable extras in fight scenes. Luke sees no issue into killing the current leader to get some bodies to throw at Valentine’s doorstep.
– Speaking of fight scenes, many went on for far too long. Time could have been better spent on character development so that we actually cared if anyone died in a fight.
– In the movie, ultimate deus ex machina, Clary draws a rune that freezes all the demons. No one else has ever seen this rune. No one figures out how Clary knows how to draw it. It was like the screenwriters realized that their heroine had been useless and needed her to do something powerful to prove why she’s the protagonist, since her talents thus far largely involved leading others into mortal peril.
In the book, she spends a lot of time trying to convince Jace that his dad is a baddie. Seriously, anyone with half a brain would be weary of a raised-from-the-dead parent whom everyone knows to be a killer.
– Why were they using fire to battle demons that looked as if they were made essentially out of fire? Do we spray water to stop a flood?
– The portal in the wall was supposed to take someone to the place they focused on or keep them in limbo. How did Valentine reach out of the portal to grab Clary after he gets shoved in?
– Clary draws a cleaning rune at the end of the movie and magically tidies her apartment. At that point, it just became ridiculous. Are there runes to trim cat toenails and enable WIFI as well?
I thought the whole Twilight franchise was awful but despite the dreadfulness of those movies, the plot was never unclear to even those with IQ deficiencies. I can’t say the same about The Mortal Instruments.