After forcing down the last forkful of “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” (definitely the most trouble I’ve ever had with a pie), I decided that I’d earned the right to consume something truly delicious. I needed a fast, fun read. Unfortunately, none of the 7 books that I’d stuffed into my one, bulging personal item (no innuendo intended) seemed to fit the bill. When I was packing, I’d told myself that there was no such thing as a “vacation read.” I’d decided that all reads were “vacation reads,” as long as one enjoyed reading. That, apparently, was a fool’s decision.
So, I put on my jester’s hat and hightailed it to the closest bookstore: a Barnes & Noble. Sadly, it was about as heavily-stocked as my carry-on bag. I used to work at a Barnes & Noble. Right before I left, they introduced the first Nook & made the decision to cut down on the amount of books available on the floor to make room for the e-reader area. The effect? This particular Barnes & Noble didn’t have any of the books I was looking for in-stock. No “Why We Broke Up,” by Daniel Handler (the only book written by “Lemony Snicket” that bears the author’s real name). No “Crossed” by Ally Condie (the sequel to “Matched”). No “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore. And these aren’t obscure titles, either. “Okay,” I said to myself. “So the Young Adult section is kind of piddling. That’s alright. I’ll try an adult title.” No “Violets of March” by Sarah Jio, either. In essence, no books. What a sad, sad bookstore. I decided to simply peruse the pathetic selection of titles that they did have on-hand, all while managing to keep my snarky comments to myself. After all, it’s not the booksellers’ fault. They just work there. I’m sure they all probably silently agree with me & wish they worked at an awesome indie store like Barrington Books & The Studio, where the staff actually has input & gets to personally choose which books make it to the shelves. (If you’re ever in Rhode Island, check it out! Not only do they have a healthy & honed selection of books, but you can buy pygmy frogs & rosemary shortbread cookies while you’re at it. They’ve got all your needs covered, however bizarre.) As there was no such “real” bookstore in sight, however, I had to make do & make a decision based on what I found.
What I found was the first book in “The Mortal Instruments” series, by Cassandra Clare (for my intents and purposes, “This Never Happened” Book 2):
Title: City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments, Book 1
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA/ Supernatural Romance
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: February 19, 2008
Paperback: 485 pages.
Is There a Pooka in This Book?: There’s a cameo.
Though I was skeptical at first, I was quickly won over. I didn’t even know it, but “The Mortal Instruments” series was right up my alley. It was heavy on the romance (judge me all you want), and the supernatural bits were straight out of the Bible – well, maybe they were straight out of extra-biblical texts, but that just made me dig it all the more.
It starts out in a fairly standard way. Clary is the to-be-expected heroine. At first, she is ignorant of the world into which she’s about to be inducted. She also thinks she’s normal and doesn’t recognize how truly special she is. She’s unaware of her own beauty and strength, which of course, she comes to know as the series progresses, because like all teen novels, this is a “coming-of-age” story. She has a male best friend, Simon, who is secretly in love with her; she is predictably oblivious. A handsome stranger, Jace, enters the picture, completing the obligatory love-triangle. When his mysterious cover is blown, however, and we learn his true identity (within the first few chapters. I’m not revealing any well-kept secrets), is when the story begins veering off-course and becomes worth reading.
Jace is a Shadowhunter, meaning that he is part-human and part-Nephilim (or “angel”). It’s his job to fight demons and save the world from darkness. When I learned about Nephilim in my Religion classes in college, I was taught that they were the children of human and angels. Nephilim existed because when the angels saw the beautiful, bare heads of women praying in church, they were tempted. They fell from the sky, lost their lofty perches, mated with the women, and produced the Nephilim – an evil race of giants that had to be wiped from the Earth (enter: The Flood. Enter, also: the “Sunday bonnet.” Let the angels live temptation free, for God’s sake, even if it means a little fashion sacrifice!). The mythology in “The Mortal Instruments” is a bit different — namely, “Nephilim” is synonymous with “angel”; they aren’t evil, they aren’t giants, and they weren’t wiped from the Earth. “Shadowhunters” are the children of angels & mortals and they aren’t evil, gigantic or extinct either. Also, the story of their creation is a lot more wholesome than angels getting down & dirty with human women. Nonetheless, I appreciated the sort-of reference and reminder. In later books, more Old Testament mythology is incorporated — stories about Lilith, Adam’s first wife, and the Mark of Cain. These allusions are also strung together with legends about vampires, werewolves, and warlocks.
When I finished the first book, I went back and bought (and then tore through) the rest of the series: “City of Ashes”, “City of Glass”, “City of Fallen Angels”, and “City of Lost Souls.” (“This Never Happened” books 3, 4, 5, & 6):
The good news: I found out after reading the first one that there’s a “City of Bones” movie in-production, due out in August. Also, there’s a sub-series featuring the adults in “The Mortal Instruments” series, which explores their teenage years, called “The Infernal Devices.” (I won’t be reading or reviewing it any time soon. I need a break, but I’m sure it’s good). Additionally, there’s another “Mortal Instruments” book in the works, “City of Heavenly Fire.”
The bad news: Book 6 isn’t due out until March — of next year.
And – I’d be remiss not to mention this but I kind of hate to, anyway: If you’re going to read these, you should probably be aware that the story involves the suggestion of incest. I got through it by convincing myself that there was no way it was really incest, and that something would come to light to clear up the whole matter. I will leave it unclear as to whether or not I should have had as much confidence in my convictions as I did. One of my co-workers was creeped out enough by the issue that she stopped reading – but I think if you do that, or decide not to read them altogether, you’re missing out. It’s a great story – and it only gets better.
Pooka Rating: 4.25 out of 5 Nibbles