Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mortal Instruments: A Disaster

I am a fan of YA Fiction: compelling stories, coming of age character arcs, young love triangles and some
sort of necessary decision making that borders the line between good and evil. Needless to say that when I heard Mortal Instruments was going to be made into a movie - I felt that I owed it to myself to read the book prior to the Hollywood manifestation.

It doesn't happen very often that I become so irritated with the protagonist of a story that I am glad when the book is done (with the exception of David Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius which I set down and abandoned without completing). But in Mortal Instruments, Clary Fray was just too oblivious. The whole story centers around the fact that she has a gift of some kind. We find out that she is the offspring of two Shadowhunters, and so she too is a Shadowhunter.

Her gifts are buried beneath a Warlock's mental block built in her mind to keep her from seeing the world as her Shadowhunter nature wants her to see it. I just don't see the scenario of Clary transitioning into a Shadowhunter going very well, because Clary seems totally incapable of piecing things together.

How is she going to be successful as a Shadowhunter if she can't pick up on nuanced detail? Part of their responsibility in protecting the Mundanes (Muggles) from the over flowing hell mouth pumping the world full of demons is flushing the demons out of disguise and hiding! How can she possibly succeed at doing this when she misses major plot points and reveals that shouldn't be as shocking as they seem to her character, because if she had common sense she would have figured it all out. Some of the examples I am thinking about: her complete gullability that Luke is somehow really a bad person...really? Never in Clary's internal dialogue does she even consider the possibility that PERHAPS Luke is lying to the evil men torturing him to protect her and her mother. The other example is her being oblivious to Simon's affection for her...there is no way any girl would not pick up on that.

I mean, I get it, Cassandra Clare is drawing the story out and keeping pace with readers who may not catch some of the obvious connections. But please, my cat could fit two and two together better than Clary. It was this reason alone that I decided not to read anything past the first book. (Thank you Wikipedia for filling me in on all the remaining books!)

There was a bit of cheesiness in the story with the monster bash of recent fantasy and scifi tropes laced throughout the book, but I'm open minded. I like fantastical creatures, spells and unseen worlds, but I hate this recent trend of putting the damsel in distress. Clary is not as bad as Bella Swann - I will give her that. But in the movie when Alex asks Jace why he likes Clary he says it's because she's brave. But in the movie I saw less bravery in her character and more rash decision making fueled by emotional responses. Women are more than their emotions, they have intellect packed full of logic and reason, but I feel like Clary's character has missed the boat on this one and it deeply saddens me.

Perhaps further along in the books she becomes a kick-ass heroine able to piece together clues and save the mundanes from demons...perhaps. If that is the case then please forgive me for this rant as it has become pointless and obsolete.

A couple of things I enjoyed about the books:
  • Jace and Clary with their flirty banter
  • Clary and Simon with their flirty banter
  • Luke (because even though he is an entirely different character I still think of Luke from Gilmore Girls)
  • Silent Brothers
  • Runes
  • The idea of a world unseen existing within our own
A couple of things I thought the story could have done without:
  • Suggestive incest
  • Vampire motorcycles
  • Alex and Clary's hate (he can be jealous, but to be so threatening is so uncalled for: drama queen)
  • Biblical inference with all that Angel business
A list of other fantasy/paranormal stories that pop up/influence the work:
  • Harry Potter (Come on, Valentine is sooooo Voldemort)
  • Twilight 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Beautiful Creatures
  • Underworld
  • Star Wars (The whole: we might be brother and sister dilemma, the dark father)
My opinion of both are rather low, but at least with the book I felt the urge to turn the page. I did want to know what fantastical spectacle would unfold next. The movie was just a huge messy rush of characters simply reacting to things and explaining exposition in telling dialogue. There was little for the audience to discover in that regard - we were forced into it. The pacing and the unfolding were a giant downfall of this movie adaptation. 

This seems to be a growing trend in recent YA Paranormal book adaptations to the big screen. Some things, it seems, are better left off the screen. 

1 comment:

  1. I agree! There is more than a little bit of Twilight's influence there! The trios: Clary, Jace and Simon AKA Bella, Edward and Jacob. I loved the books though! The TV show, not so much, what did you think of the movie and TV show? Thanks for the amazing article.