“The boy never cried again, and he never forgot what he'd learned: that to love is to destroy, and that to be loved is to be the one destroyed.” (Cassandra Clare) 

Book synopsis  - Sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is an ordinary teenager, who likes hanging out in Brooklyn with her friends. But everything changes the night she witnesses a murder, committed by a group of teens armed with medieval weaponry. The murderous group are Shadowhunters, secret warriors dedicated to driving demons out of this dimension and back into their own. Drawn inexorably into a terrifying world, Clary slowly begins to learn the truth about her family - and the battle for the fate of the world.

You know,  each time I write about books or movies at FLY HIGH, it is never on a professional level .  I  try to be as honest as I can with you,  but don't ask me to be  objective. I've been and will be,  on the contrary,  totally and personally involved in each of my reviews.

So,   this time too,  I'll  tell you something really personal.

I never thought I could like YA fantasy books. I've always been so stubbornly prejudiced that I feel now quite ashamed of myself.
I've always disliked very popular things: the more they were liked, the more I disliked them. Blockbuster movies? Best selling books? No, thanks.
Lily Collins as Clary in the upcoming movie
You should also know that I couldn't bear vampire stories and the like either. Why?  I really can't say.
I have always been so dismissive when a friend of mine tried to convince  me to read fantasy sagas she was reading: "I have no time to waste", "Not my cup of tea".  How could I know,  if I had never tried one?
Yes, I can be terrible, just like Lizzie with Darcy before really knowing him. You've read or seen Pride and Prejudice, haven't you? I can be worse than her. I don't even give those things the chance to be judged at first impressions. Pre-judged and avoided. Full stop.
I've always tended  to be so proudly sheltered behind my literary background, my academic studies, my need to  work on texts. What about reading for fun and escapism? Gone, forgotten. Old memories belonging to childhood and teenage.
Gosh, I AM talkative! Long premise aiming at what? 
What if I tell you that something has changed? What if I tell you that reading The Mortal Instruments books by Cassandra Clare has been one of the most amusing, exciting  experiences of my long bookish life?

I came to read these books only in January this year after a series of fortunate coincidences,  after hearing about the movie that was coming out  and after having watched the trailer (you may find clues HEREHERE, HERE,  and HERE).
Anyway, even out of my curiosity, I didn't want to trust the already-mentioned-reader-of-saga friend of mine (what an awful friend I may be!),  I decided I needed a taster and I found one: the fantasy saga expert in my family, my nephew, 21.
To cut it short, when I opened Book 1, City of Bones, following my young nephew's enthusiasm (he had eagerly asked for "the next one?" for 4 times, I had ordered all the books online for him and he had read the 5 books in one month!),  I was very curious but still ready not to like it at all. As I told you before, I had the faces and the voices of the young actors I had seen in the trailers in my mind and ... click! I took off on a journey which brought me to an actual teenage frenzy.
What happened was that, page after page,  I found myself  really relating to those young heroes and heroines as it hadn't happened to me for long.  I smiled all the time or burst out  laughing at Simon's funny jokes (I'd like to have a friend like him!); I was as fascinated as Clary by Jace's arrogant handsomeness, bit scared of his dangerous fierceness, smiled at his bitter sarcasm (brilliant guy!), especially when addressed to poor  Simon. Then I was immediately conscious the three would be involved in a heartbreaking game and, you see,  I'm always drawn to a good love story.

Clary : Why can I see you while no one else can?   Jace: Your are not a mundane
But Cassandra Clare surprised me all the time, till the very end, since the story  is not simply that, not just a love triangle.  "L'amor che move il sol e l'altre stelle", Jace and Clary's story line,  is an important part of the plot and it's the aspect that really got me hypnotized. The love lines in the plot form a really intricate web ( have a look at the picture/map here and see if you can get any meaning out of it). In addition, there's adventure and suspence, thrilling fights and a quest, betrayal and loyal friendships, investigation and mystery, family bonds and coming of age, attraction and forbidden love, humor and irony, horrow and terror, magic and supernatural, angels and demons, and I must have surely omitted something.   City of Bones is a real rollercoaster story, a great page turner.
I was thinking about some of my students while reading, girls who candidly confessed to be reading the Fifty shades series. I really hope they  get to read these books instead and forget about that awful Fifty Shades stuff which they told me they like!

Isabelle: There's too many of them!   Jace: Have a little faith!
What was I saying before the inevitable "teacher digression"? Oh, yes, book 1 is so full of  twists and unexpected turns, adventures and discoveries. Some of them are as painful as unexpected. I'm thinking of the final revelation which breaks Jace's armour of self-confidence and cockiness. It is then when you see him defeated by the worst demon, after he has killed hundreds for over a third of his life,  and when you realize that little Clary is really not a mundane anymore, she is a real shadowhunter, stronger than Jace to bear  the unbearable.  What am I talking about? Only who read the book can understand me. For all the others, no way, I'm not giving away more than that. Just give the book  a try or wait for the movie to come out and  you'll discover.

Jace: Happy Birthday, Clarissa Fray!

Collage from  You Destroy Me 
Just like Clary at first, I didn't want to believe in  monsters, demons, angels, vampires and the other extraordinary beings Jace and his foster siblings,  tell her about. But once I met one of those creatures in Cassandra Clare's realistic,  involving prose, I had to suspend  my disbelief and just let her tell me the story.
Be assured you'll find a lot of feelings you can empathise with since Ms Clare is great at characterization.
I started loving those kids, all of them, and I wished  their story didn't end. I wanted more smiling, more laughing, more fighting, more yearning.
When I thought my favourite character was that particular one, I turned the page, discovered something new and touching about another one, laughed at one of his/her jokes and ...  added him/her to my best favourite list.

"I like Clary because she faces everything so bravely and, especially, because she doesn't let Jace sweep  her off her feet. She likes being in control. She goes on like: "Yeah, you're handsome sweetie but, be prepared, I'm just as tough as you. I don't like to do what I'm told, I'd rather have things done my way. Then, you know, I have to find my mother first. And also, you know, there's Simon ... You don't like him? Well, I like him very much, instead"

I like Jace  for his Hamletic complexity, so many layers in him. Well,  he is a fierce warrior, while Hamlet rejects action and violence. But I do think Jace has a Hamletic personality, introverted and conflicted.  Hamlet hides his fears and uncertainties behind his fake madness, Jace hides his fragility behind his armour of sarcasm, stoicism, bravery and cockiness. That's just a facade and who read all the books well knows that. Anyway, I love both Jace's sides, his being cheeky and sarcastic as well as his being extremely tender and vulnerable. He is  the kind of hero my truly romantic nature is drawn to love.

I find Simon irresistible. Oh,  to have such a friend! Loyal and reliable, loving and selfless, jokey and caring. He's such fun to be with and he would never desert you, NEVER, not for any reason in the world.  And he is even sexy behind those glasses. A geek, yes, bit weird even, but invaluable. By the way, have you ever looked at him properly, Clary?
The exchanges between Simon and Jace are irrestistibly funny. Simon's irony + Jace's sarcasm = fireworks.

And what about  Alec and  Isabelle? They are awesome characters. They are Jace's foster brother and sister, the Lightwoods. They are shadowhunters like Jace, fighting demons and taking care of each other. Alec is sensitive and enigmatic and is Jace's parabatai. They are united by a very special bond, they always fight together. But Jace is blind to Alec's interest in him and Clary will soon experience his jelousy toward her. Isabelle is ruthless, aggressive, sexy and very strong. She doesn't like Clary either and will have fun playing tricks on poor Simon. She is, however, loyal to her family and loves both Alec and Jace selflessly.

Then can one but be touched by Luke's story? He is another extraordinary figure. Strong, loyal, fatherly, in love with Clary's mother since always and never requited. The pages dedicated to him in the final part of the book are touching and give him depth and an important background before he sides Clary in her dangerous meeting with Valentine to save Jace and find her mother.

I'm also fascinated by the delirious villain, Valentine,  and by the extravagant warlock, Magnus Bane. They are really unforgettable protagonists.

The result of such enthusiasm is that I've already read the rest of the saga published so far:

Collage from  You Destroy Me 
Book 2 City of Ashes
Book 3 City of Glass
Book 4 City of Fallen Angels
Book 5 City of Lost Souls

and I'm looking forward to its epilogue: Will love be their salvation or destruction? The answer in Book 6 City of Heavenly Fire,  which will be released in March 2014.

If I can say something negative, I would have stopped the series at the end of Book 3, City of Glass. That would have been the perfect ending to me. I liked City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls less than the first 3 books but who could renounce more Jace - Clary moments? Once you've visited the world of the Shadowhunters, you miss it and want to be back soon.

I can't wait to see the movie in August (out on 21 in UK and US, 28 here in Italy). I enjoyed what I saw in the trailers. There will be cuts and changes of course but my impression is that they stayed faithful to the spirit of the book and of the several characters. Anyhow,  we'll talk about the movie some other time. Maybe after watching it or even sooner.
I bet I'll feel awkward sitting among teenagers,  but once the film starts  I'll forget every  awkwardness,  get glued to the images and be caught in the story. I'll only be sad to be just an ordinary  mundane and be  wishing  I were a shadowhunter  killing demons and ... prejudices.

"When you love someone, you don't have a choice. Love takes your choices away." (Cassandra Clare)


Anonymous said...

Great review, MG!
Yes, you can be incredibly stubborn at times, but I really, really like when you go personal ;-)
I don't share your enthusiasm for the TMI series, but I'm glad you've found a way to overcome your prejudices: now there are lots of goodies out there, ready to be discovered! :D
Have a nice day,
ciao, xx K/V

Maria Grazia said...

I know, K/V. I've got some new goodies you recommended in my iPad. You see? I'm trying to change and be less stubborn :-)
As for TMI, you said: "I know you'd like these books even more than me"
How can you know me that well?
You like when I go ... personal?!? I can be very dangerous!
Buona giornata :-)

Carole said...

Thanks for linking up to Books You Loved. I can't believe it's April already! CHeers

Maria Grazia said...

Pleasure! This is a series of books I really liked. Incredibly gripping and fun.
April, spring! A beautiful time of the year. Let's enjoy it :-)

Anonymous said...

abosulte adore the series, the characters and aduthor. i love hoq protectieve jace is of those he is and clary. not becaue clary is a girl but because he cares about her and while she is a shadowhunter she is less expereinced. i love jace's wit, the caring side, and yes how handsome he is and his sarcasm

Fanny/iz4blue said...

Like you this is not my regular genre, though I've read another YA series with supernatural beings the draw was also like here, the characters, the love story and the banter amongst them. I felt very soon into the first book the similar magic of loving these characters of how they come to life on the page and beyond. Look forward to seeing the movies and reading the rest of the series.

Piperita Patty said...

Ok, mi hai convinto, proverò il primo libro :D
Comunque succede spesso nelle lunghe saghe che l'autore scriva la conclusione perfetta e poi vada avanti a forza, magari per parecchi volumi. E' una cosa che trovo molto irritante. Terrò conto del tuo consiglio per una potenziale chiusura al terzo libro in caso dovessi appassionarmi alla saga.

Maria Grazia said...

Ciao, Piperita! Benvenuta su FLY HIGH! Fammi sapere cosa ne pensi, una volta iniziata la serie degli Shadowhunters.
A proposito, io non sono riuscita a fermarmi dopo il volume 3. A quel punto, mi ero affezionata ai personaggi. Ora aspetto l'epilogo della storia con trepidazione. A presto, allora e grazie per il commento :-)

mortal instrument fan said...

I just finished reading book 5 and I'm excited for book 6. :)

lovely day said...

I'm waiting for book 6.