Shadowhunters premiered last night, and while it wasn’t everything I had been hoping for, it was certainly enjoyable. Not only was this a good start at bringing in a newer audience to the series, the show takes a lot of creative liberties with the original source material and changes enough things around that even someone who has read the books can be surprised by all the developments happening. As the first book is told almost explicitly from Clary’s POV, we don’t get to see a lot of the Shadowhunter world. On the other hand, Shadowhunters isn’t limited the same way. The show is taking the time to explore and develop its universe by engaging with characters we don’t get to see all that often in the books. The first episode “The Mortal Cup” was fun, exciting, and had enough new things going on that I didn’t know what to expect all the time.
With the new television show coming out next month, I decided to sit myself down and reread The Mortal Instruments series. I just got done with the first book, City of Bones, and I can safely say that I was not blown away by the writing. Now that I’m older and more aware of social justice issues and my own internalized sexism, I definitely loved Clary, our main character, a lot more than I did on my first read through, but the downside to that is that I detested just about everything and everyone else. In theory, the ideas behind City of Bones are fine. The plot is fairly compelling, the relationships between characters give us significant conflict, and the worldbuilding is interesting—but the story doesn’t know what it’s doing half the time, and many of the good things about the book get lost under the bad.
Spoilers for an eight-year-old book up ahead.
After City of Bones completely flopped at the box office, I heard that this series was going to happen instead of a sequel. Then I promptly forgot about it until now.
City of Ashes, the second book in The Mortal Instruments series, was already supposed to be filmed and out by now—but it wasn’t a good sign when it kept getting delayed. Eventually, the second movie was cancelled altogether. Constantin Film announced in 2014 that instead it would be doing a television show called Shadowhunters, and after that I heard almost nothing about the franchise at all and just assumed that it had been cancelled as well. I guess I was wrong.
Potential spoilers up ahead.
Sadly—or thankfully, depending on whichever you prefer—this book-to-movie adaptation hasn’t been doing very well. And unfortunately its author, Cassandra Clare, has been at the center of some controversy, most notably accusations of plagiarism. City of Bones follows the fifteen-year-old Clary—played here by twenty-four-year-old Lily Collins, because how big is a nine-year gap, really?—who, after witnessing a murder, is drawn into a world of magic and demons.
It turns out that the murder victim was a demon, and his killer, Jace, is a Shadowhunter, a person who fights demons using magical runes and awesome swords, because swords look cool. When Clary’s mother goes missing and Clary finds herself about to be killed by one of the demons who took her, Jace comes to her rescue. Clary discovers that her mother used to be a Shadowhunter as well, and that her mother had stolen and hid a very powerful relic called the Mortal Cup, capable of turning normal people into the half-angel, half-human Shadowhunters. Thus starts our plot to find Clary’s mother and the Mortal Cup, and this also marks the beginnings of an epic romance between Jace and Clary.
All in all, it doesn’t surprise me that this movie seems to have bombed, however disappointed I am that that’s the case. I’d say that this movie is a fairly decent adaptation of the first book in The Mortal Instruments series. The problem here is that the books are terrible, and they made a really terrible movie. So why am I sad that it’s not doing well?
Well, there are a number of reasons. For starters, it features a female protagonist, and we don’t get a lot of those. It has queer characters, who I thought were some of the most well written characters in the books. And it has a twist in the romance that I thought could have been very well done and unique.
Spoilers for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones after the jump.
I’ve been hearing about this movie for some time now, and after watching fan trailers over and over again, seeing an actual trailer made my week:
So I’m not going to lie. I’m not the biggest fan of The Mortal Instruments. It’s entertaining, and much better than something like Twilight, but it’s less of a “OMG I have to read it to know what happens” series and more of a “did my friend finish the books yet so she could tell me how it ends” series. But it does have its positives. Despite Clary being an obvious self-insert for Cassandra Clare, she did have a personality. I could tell she was an artist by the way she describes things, and I really like the characters Magnus and Alec. So it does have some good qualities to it.
As a whole, The Mortal Instruments is a unique idea, and while I’m not a fan of the romance in it—like how Clary falls in love with Jace in about a week—it definitely has its moments.
Speaking of Jace, you know what I hate about characters like him going from books to the big screen? Remember all the obnoxious Twilighters who got butthurt because Robert Pattinson didn’t meet their expectations of hotness? Yeah, I expect to hear the same thing about Jace, only on a much smaller level.
This is the problem with writing a “hot” character. No actor will ever appease everyone’s different criteria.
Anyway, I’m really looking forward to this movie. And I hope it does well. Although, that’s more because if I’m not going to finish the series by reading it, watching it is the next best thing.