I’m not Team Edward or Team Jacob, but I have a really hard time deciding between Teams Jem, Will, Jace, Alec, Simon, and now Kyle. Or heck, why not Team Isabelle or Clary?
I was never really a fan of YA lit. Or Teen lit, as we call it in our library, or whatever designation you choose to give it. I’m not a huge fan of teens in real life, so why would I want to spend any time reading about the 13-19 set? Little by little, though, suggestions started coming in for books that were REALLY GOOD despite the character age group. When someone suggested City of Bones, it was impossible to resist. It had everything I normally love in a book with the great worldbuilding, supernatural elements, secret societies, non-humans, super humans and, of course, action and, of course, love. Was I really going to let a little thing like teenagerism stand in the way? Of course not. But even though I expected to like it given what I’d heard, I had no idea I would find it consuming. These were books, at least in the case of City of Ashes and City of Glass, that I literally could not put down. I finished both of them over the course of a weekend.
(Editor’s Note: And as the film adaptation of The Mortal Instruments currently in the works proves, Robin’s far from the only adult hooked on this series. As with The Hunger Games movie, casting alone for The Mortal Instruments has already generated a lot of buzz (the two leads, it was recently announced will be Lily Collins of The Blind Side and Jamie Campbell Bower of the Twilight saga and television’s Camelot).
What makes them so compelling? For me, it is mostly about the characters. Yes, the very same characters that I dreaded reading about. Of course they do things, teenager things, that make me crazy, but it isn’t nearly as bad as I was anticipating. In fact, you could almost say that the characters act a little bit older than their years.
The characters are all definitely layered beyond their years. I expected this in Clockwork Angel, the entry book to her historical series The Infernal Devices. Children grew up faster in Victorian England and carried a lot more responsibility, right? But even in The Mortal Instruments series, set in modern times, the cast can be very grown up at times. There are good guys and bad girls (and vice versa) but even villains aren’t two dimensional. Hell, even the cat has secrets! Oh, and if you love the angst (and I do, oh yes I do) you’ll get more than you ever thought you could handle from these characters.
There is the central story of Clary and Jace. That romance may drive you to adult beverages before the series is over. But the relationships are complex between the entire cast and develop throughout the series. They change over time, and some of them never really go where you expect—which is a lot like relationships in real life. And as much as this is true in the Mortal Instruments series, it seems like the Infernal Devices series takes everything one giant notch up. The relationships are more complex, the angst is deeper, the stakes are higher and the entire book is darker.
It’s impossible to choose my favorite characters, or even my favorite storyline. Or, hell, even my favorite book. The re-read factor is high among all five of the books currently out. The audio versions are great as well. If you’re not into the supernatural at all, these might not be your cup of tea. If you’re looking for blazing hot paranormal sex, these definitely aren’t for you. But if you’re looking for entertaining stories, with great characters finding their way in and out of complex situations, you should give these a try. Just beware: once you’re in, you’ll probably never want to leave.
Robin Bradford is a lawyer, a librarian and, most importantly, full on Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices addict. You can check her out on Twitter @tuphlos, On Unpaged, or on the new blog Collection Reflection