Sometimes when I see an interesting book and realize it’s the first in a series, I feel overwhelmed by the task in front of me and don’t even both starting. Too many pages! Too much commitment! So I understand that recommending two interconnected series of seven books (so far!) is dicey. But don’t panic! Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series will not be a weight upon your reader’s conscience. This series just makes me happy, because I know I can count on more books coming.
City of Bones, the first book in the series, tells the story of Clary, a New York City teenager who finds out that she’s actually part of a world of demon hunters and vampires and werewolves, etc. I know there are a million young adult books out there with this same basic plot, but Clare creates a very detailed world and whole giant cast of interesting characters. There’s passionate teenage love, parents who don’t understand, fairies who strike bad bargains, a magical city in another dimension, secret governments, warlocks–it goes on and on. I don’t necessarily think the characters are that realistic (they really don’t read like teenagers to me) and the books aren’t going to offer tremendous insight into the problems facing our world now (for that, go read Bitterblue). But they’re fun and dramatic and surprising and engaging and ultimately satisfying.
There are five Mortal Instruments books so far, and clearly at least one more coming. I initially said that there are seven because Clare has started a second, companion series, set in the same universe but 100+ years back in Victorian London. The Infernal Devices has two books so far and I think I might actually like it better that the modern day books right now (but I am a sucker for period stories set in England). So please give Cassandra Clare a chance, starting with either City of Bones or Clockwork Angel. If you don’t like the first, you don’t have to read any more because they’re very similar. But if you like them, just think–you won’t have to worry about having something fun to read for many, many hundreds of pages. They’re also in the process of making the first one into a movie and I’m pretty sure they’re going to position it as the new Hunger Games, so just think how ahead of all the teenagers you will be!