"'Have you fallen in love with the wrong person yet?'
Jace said, 'Unfortunately, Lady of the Haven, my one true love remains myself.'
'At least,' she said, 'you don't have to worry about rejection, Jace Wayland.'
'Not necessarily. I turn myself down occasionally, just to keep it interesting.'"
That's Jace Wayland for you, the mysterious and sarcastic teen heartthrob that graces the pages of the first installment in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.
When sixteen-year-old Clary Fray visits the Pandemonium Club, she expects nothing out of the ordinary. However, her world is turned upside down when she witnesses what she perceives to be a gruesome murder. When Clary's mother disappears without a trace, Clary is thrown headfirst into the realm of Shadowhunters, a world that is invisible to most humans. The Shadowhunters - half-humans, half-angels - have one purpose: ridding the world of demons. As Clary uncovers secrets about her past, she becomes hopelessly entangled in a web of romance, danger, and lies.
The large number of characters were well-developed and lovable. Despite the fictional world in which they live, the characters undergo a series of realistic, relatable issues, minus the occasional slaying of a demon. And if you say that you've taken up demon slaying in your spare time, I will begin to question your sanity.
The series centers around several main characters, introducing a collection of minor characters along the way. These main characters grow throughout the series, further developing their individual traits and characteristics. Additionally, each character has a unique, well-developed backstory that is gradually revealed in small fragments.
Jace was my favorite character with his witty remarks and dry sense of humor. He never fails to lighten the mood with a bit of comic relief. He's cocky but charming, relying on his arrogance to disguise his more vulnerable side. While his snide comments aren't always appreciated, the other characters and the readers themselves tend to respect him for his bravery and the values which he unwaveringly upholds. He is one of the few characters who is able to overcome his/her past and works to improve the lives of those around him.
The one character who irks me, however, is Clary, who perfects the role of the damsel in distress over the course of the book. She repeatedly portrays the helpless maiden who awaits her knight in shining armor to come to her aid at the first sign of trouble. While it may seem romantic the first and maybe even the second time, it becomes repetitive fairly quickly. Additionally, she makes several rash decisions with negatively impact both herself and other characters. Her inability to think a situation through before committing to a decision results in her demise on more than one occasion.
As for the plot. I will be the first person to admit that the pace is a bit slow, particularly toward the beginning of the book. Many readers attribute this to the numerous character introductions that occur, taking the place of the plot in the first several chapters. The remainder of the plot was both interesting and engaging, immediately drawing readers in. The book reaches its climax in the final chapters when a fairly large secret is revealed, leaving readers shell-shocked and scrabbling for their car keys so they can head out to the bookstore and purchase City of Ashes. The entire book builds up to a single crucial moment and abruptly ends, leaving readers with a cliffhanger that's hard to ignore.
All in all, readers tend to either love or hate this book. There isn't much of a middle ground. I, for one, fell in love with the set of characters and hilarious dialogue. Neither is an easy aspect to incorporate into writing, but Clare managed to do just that. While this isn't my favorite book in the Mortal Instruments series, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and would be willing to reread it in a heartbeat. Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Young Adult books, such as the Harry Potter, Gone, and Pendragon series.
Before concluding my review, I wanted to address several comments proposed by reviewers regarding plagiarism. As you may or may not know, the Mortal Instruments series was originally written as a Harry Potter fanfiction with no intent to become a best-selling, published book series. Therefore, Clare has been accused of plagiarizing the Harry Potter series on numerous occasions. I do not feel that this is plagiarism. The two books share few similarities, following very different plots and containing a wide array of diverse and original characters. They are no more similar than the Harry Potter series is to The Scarlet Letter.
And now, for a few final words of wisdom from Jace Wayland himself:
"When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, then throw it in the face of the person who gave you the lemons until they give you the oranges you originally asked for."