Book Review: The Mortal Instruments Series

One day, I will figure out a consistent format for how I write book reviews. I swear, every freaking post has a new format, geez! So today I’m chatting with you about The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. Because The Mortal Instruments consists of six books, I am not writing a review for each book; we’d be here forever since as you know, I tend to rant. (This post is already crazy long.) Instead, I’ll share a spoiler-free overview of the series as a whole, and then get into some spoiler-y specifics about what I loved and what I didn’t about each character. If you’d like reviews for each of The Mortal Instruments books individually, they are linked below as I reviewed each one on Goodreads. Let’s dive in shall we?

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Overall Series Rating:
really like it rating

Series Overview:
The Mortal Instruments follows sixteen year old Clary Fray as she discovers the existence of Shadowhunters, the world they exist in that is hidden from humanity, and all the wonders and terrors it brings.

Spoiler Free Series Review:
If you a mix of multiple fantasy & supernatural elements, action, angst, and romance, you will enjoy The Mortal Instruments. The series is ripe with all those things. Are they the most well written or well thought out books you’ll read? By no means. Many of the books have some plot holes (some minor, some really dumb) and honestly the drama gets drawn out too much sometimes, but these books are just so much fun. Just pure fluff YA fun. And I adore that. I know they aren’t great, but they are so entertaining. Plus, they make me feel a bit nostalgic as my 15 year old self would have reveled in this series. If you’re looking for a light, fun YA read in the fantasy realm, I highly recommend giving this series a try, as long as you keep in mind going in they aren’t the best thing you’ll ever read.

OH, and I do have to say, re-reading this series makes the travesty of a TV show they put out even worse if that’s possible. Do not judge these books by that terrible show. The show got so, SO much wrong, botched Jace as a character, and pretty much ruined perfectly good source material. UGH.


Basically, I just wanted to talk about each of the characters and what I loved/didn’t love about them.

First up – Jace. Oh, how I adore Jace. As I mentioned above, these books make me feel nostalgic as I know just how obsessed with them I would have been as a teenage girl, and Jace would lead that obsession. His wit, sarcasm, cocky attitude, and all around badassery would have made me utterly swoon. (Plus, his Marks, which are basically tattoos, just add to the sexiness.) As it is, he is still my favorite character in the series.

Honestly, I think he dealt with so much more than Clary did. Between the questioning of his paternity for the first three books, and then the aftermath of his TRUE paternity, constantly feeling like you never fit in, his horrific childhood, and pretty much being burdened with saving the Shadowhunter world, Jace had a lot on his plate. And I actually liked that he didn’t always handle it well. He’s a teenager; making well thought out rash decisions isn’t most teenagers’ strong suit. So while sometimes I wanted to smack him in his smug face, I at least understood the reasons behind a lot of his choices, and why he felt the need to take on all things (especially Sebastian), alone.

That being said, by book six I was SO HAPPY Jace finally accepted and embraced that he can’t do everything alone. He finally learned he cannot control everyone’s choices, even if it puts them in harms way.  As a character, he grew a lot over the series and that’s always good to see.

Clary: Clary frustrated me more than others in this series, and yet I still always like her. For the first few books, I feel like you didn’t really know her, despite the fact that she is the main character. But I also realized, she doesn’t really know herself. The majority of her life has been a lie, put in place to ‘protect’ her, and she was forced to come to terms with a huge amount of information all at once. It meant re-learning and discovering a huge amount about herself and the people she knew, as well as the people she just met.

But throughout the series, I admired her strength. She persevered through some really shitty circumstances, and never lost hope when she absolutely had a right to. She definitely falls into the “bad decisions because teenager” category, but again, I always understood why she made the choices she did, even if I didn’t agree with them. Plus, she’s an artist, and her rune powers are completely badass. Though I did find them really inconsistent. I wish there had been more of her developing runes in her downtime; it seemed like she only came up with new runs when the world was going to shit and she had to save it via some new crazy rune.

Simon: Sigh. Where to begin with Simon? Honestly, until the final book, I really liked Simon. He basically got hurled into the Shadowhunter world via association to Clary. Being turned into a vampire meant that he became a part of the Shadowhunter world forever. I liked the struggle of him identifying more as a human/Shadowhunter than a vampire, and how that not only ostracized him from other vampires but also left him with a lot of personal turmoil about his life. I liked his struggles of being in love with Clary, though when he moved past that I thought he and Izzy made a great couple.

But then the ending of book six happened and ruined everything. By which I mean a demon made him lose his immorality and his memory. At first, I was annoyed by his memory loss because Jace, Clary, Alec, and Magnus all get their storylines wrapped up with a nice happiness bow and Izzy is left a devastated mess. How is that fair? But then, of course, they discover a way to give Simon back his memories (sort of, it’s a slow process), and live longer by making him a Shadowhunter. THEN WHY DID YOU BOTHER WITH GETTING RID OF THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE?! I get the whole sacrificing your immortality to the demon bit, but why, why bother with the memory loss?! It seemed only there to add drama, and the last thing these books needed was MORE drama.

The ending just seemed a huge disservice to Simon’s character to have him, yet again, different and separate from everyone else. He struggled with that through the whole book, and now, after he’s literally gone through hell with them all and been a vital part of saving the Shadowhunter world, you make him forget all of it? UNCOOL.

Izzy + Alec: Despite filling the designated sidekick shoes, they were both wonderful characters. They start off a little cliche, but throughout the six books you get to know and love them just as much as Jace and Clary. Izzy’s struggles with female friendships were a great touch. Her complete discomfort of being vulnerable was nice to see in a female character, and also made complete sense given how she and Alec were raised. Alec being gay and coming to terms with his feelings about Jace was also an excellent addition. His sexuality, while present throughout the series, never felt overdone or forced. It was just who he was. He and Magnus are fantastic together, and they make my heart smile.

Magnus: While not a main character, Magnus is immensely important in these books, and often a crucial part of the plot. But he is also a wonderful character. I think he’s actually my second favorite after Jace. Mainly becuase he is fully at peace with his immortality. I feel like often in stories, immortal characters are broody and miserable about their immortality. Or they have hardened into cold, emotionless beings who don’t give a shit about humanity. Magnus was neither of these things. He enjoys life, all the time, and loves it. Yes, he sometimes struggles with a disconnect but I love that he is always honest. He knows he’s going to live forever, he’s okay with it, and it’s just part of the package.

Plus, I love when he chimes in on the drama. He’s often pointing out how ridiculous the ‘problems’ are in the grand scheme of things. After living for centuries, he knows how bad things can get which means many problems just seem trivial to him. His immortality also makes it so when he is afraid, everybody else should be too. Overall, I thought Magnus was a brilliant element to add to these books.

Below are the link to my reviews for each book on Goodreads!

City of Bones
City of Ashes
City of Glass City of Fallen Angels
City of Lost Souls
City of Heavenly Fire

Have you read The Mortal Instruments? What was your overall opinion, and who was your favorite character?

  • Loved your review! I finished the whole series recently, and I share a lot of your thoughts on the characters! It isn’t the best series (and I’ve read a lot of things that are negative about the author in the fan fiction community…or something like that) but it is enjoyable, albeit maybe a bit pounded into the ground now, what with another new series in the same world now out. I am excited to read it though, even though I know I’ll get all the books confused in my head. I would have LIVED for this book in middle school/high school though, totally would have spent free time pretending I was a Shadowhunter, no lie. hahaha!

    • Kay

      SAME!!! Complete same. Honestly, a huge amount of my enjoyment of this series came from knowing how much I would have lived and breathed them as a teenager. And I 100% would have also spent time pretending I was a Shadowhunter!! I’m glad you enjoyed them as well!

  • This series is on my MAYBE list. I’ve watched the movie and I loved it (I basically watched it only because of Aidan Turner, since I knew nothing about the story), but I’ve read so many bad reviews from fans of the books; then I watched 4/5 episodes of the TV show and I really disliked it. So, I have mixed feelings at the moment. I loved a movie that doesn’t bring justice to the books (according to fans) and I didn’t like the TV series…Mmh…

    • Kay

      I have to agree, both the movie and TV show were pretty terrible in comparison to the books. Though I think the movie is SO MUCH BETTER than the horrific TV show. I feel like if you’ve got nothing to read, and you’re looking for a fun YA series to dive into, this could be one for you. But go into it knowing it is certainly not the best YA out there!

  • Haha, I totally failed to keep up with the re-read club! 😛 I’m glad you got through the series again though, and yeah, that show is just ridiculous. I had such high hopes for it too after the terrible movie came out…such a let-down! I think Magnus is my favorite, Clary is definitely my least favorite, and I totally agree, the ending for Simon really sucks:(

    • Kay

      Oh I so love Magnus. He is such a wonderful addition to this series. I’m tempted to start the series that feature him as the main character simply because I enjoyed him so much, but I’m not quite ready to dive into more of this world yet haha.

  • I was going to read this series till heard many people say the first book is great but then the rest of the series goes downhill. For me, that is just the worst so I didn’t even attempt. Couldn’t have another let down like Hunger Games did for me. Lol

    • Kay

      I’d probably skip them then. Honestly, this series could have just been a trilogy. The first three book had a really solid storyline with a great & unexpected ending. The next three books were okay, but totally unnecessary.

  • Hmmm I’m unsure if to start reading it or not, since reviews aren’t that great after this one… I’m still with the Shannara Chronicles (just started).

    • Kay

      It’s definitely nothing spectacular. I enjoyed it a lot, but so much of that had to do with how much I would have loved it when I was younger…it gave me that nostalgic feeling, you know? I’m so curious about the Shannara Chronicles, both the books and the show!


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