Book Reviews

The Infernal Devices – Cassandra Clare (Trilogy review)

(This is my own personal opinion and review about how I found this series. I know there are probably tons of fans of this book, and I respect you guys; but let me put out my own opinion. )

I’m going to start this off by saying – the only reason I read the entire series was Jem.

Had there been no Jem, or had Jem not been Jem, I wouldn’t have bothered to go through the first book even.

Secondly, this review is for the entire ‘Infernal Devices’ series by Cassandra Clare, and not just the third book.

So…where do I start? The boring, making-you-yawn story, or maybe the awful, and I mean really bad writing? The unoriginal characters, or all that drama of the love triangle?

My first encounter with Clare hadn’t been a pleasant one. After all that hype about Mortal Instruments series, I picked up the series in hopes that maybe it would be a good, enjoyable read. But no, couldn’t go through the third book and hated literally every bit of it. Anyway, that’s another story.

I had very well pledged to not pick up anything else by her, but I don’t know what the hell happened, but I found myself opening Clockwork Angel a few days ago and by the time I regained the senses to think that this was a C. Clare book I was reading, I was already so pulled in by Jem’s character that I had to keep on reading.

The story of the book is as basic, stupid, unoriginal as a paranormal story can get. I’m not a hater of paranormal, but I think anyone can agree that most paranormal stories are based on the same storyline. Two different species or creatures who are rivals (in this case, Shadowhunters and Downworlders) and one of them tries to win over the other. Most paranormal series are based on this same storyline, so much so, that even little changes bring in a bit of originality. Unfortunately, originality is not what you find here. (If you know of any paranormal book which doesn’t stick to the storyline I mentioned, please name the book in the comments! J)

The story revolves around Tessa Gray, who arrives in London only to be kidnapped by a Mrs. Dark and a Mrs. Black (such thoughtful and beautiful names, huh?) and is held captive by them only to be trained for a power she did not know existed in her. Then, she is quite magically rescued by William Herondale, who takes her to the London Institute of Nephilim. Tessa meets a bunch of people there, the head of the Institue, Charlotte, her slightly erratic husband, Henry and of course, James Carstairs. Then unfolds a lot of drama, drama about how some ‘Magister’ wants to use Tessa as a weapon to destroy all Shadowhunters; family drama (almost all of the characters had had some kind of traumatic event occur in their childhood) and honestly, I don’t know whether Clare included these stories to create sympathy in our hearts but it didn’t work. Sure, reading about their past lives was sad, but in the point of view of the entire series, all these past childhood incidents made me roll my eyes. Like, literally. Authors need to stop using sympathy to make us like their characters.

The story is stupid, and bland, and idiotic. All they do is fight people, kiss each other and spit out their sob stories. Will adds a bit of sarcasm to the mood, whereas Jem softens the atmosphere. And Tessa is just, meh. What really irked me is the story of all the three books is exactly the same. What I mean is, the point of all the books is same. The story doesn’t grow. In each book, the actual point of everything is the same – defeating the Magister. That’s all that they seem to be doing; there’s absolutely no progression. In a series or trilogy, the first book starts off with a small issue, which is slowly escalated and grown into something bigger and that’s what makes a series or trilogy good. There is no escalation, no maturity and no growth in the story. The only thing which progressed was the love triangle, which I had no interest in.

And speaking of love triangles, oh why do authors bring in love triangles? The love triangle in this book was so very melodramatic, parts of it made me cringe. The third book, Clockwork Princess, is probably one of the most melodramatic things I’ve ever read, in fact, I think I’d prefer watching a sappy Bollywood movie than reading something like that again. I hated every aspect of the love triangle.

Firstly, I do not believe it to be possible that a person can love two people equally at the same time. It just seems so unreal, and fickle-minded. Secondly, she did not really choose one of the two; she just had to accept the course of events. Like, okay she loved both Jem and Will, equally (which is ridiculous, by the way). She agreed to marry Jem, okay. But she ended up with Will only because Jem was gone! So technically, she did no really ‘choose’ him, she just had to accept the situation. And also, can I take a moment off and comment on how TERRIBLE A PERSON TESSA IS!?!?! She sleeps with Will within fucking minutes of finding out that Jem had died. Like, WHAT THE FUCK???

Okay now, the writing. Oh my God, how terrible can someone’s writing be?? It was just bad. Honestly speaking, most dystopian and paranormal books don’t have that fluid, emotional, touching writing which I appreciate and like to read. And that’s absolutely fine, I accept that. Books like these are more about the action and the intense story, and that’s okay too. But Clare’s writing is really bad. It’s like, half of the time her writing is trying to sound like a classic (and failing miserable) and the rest of the time, it’s gibberish. All those lovey-dovey dialogues were absolutely not necessary, and especially when the characters are merely seventeen-eighteen years old, I find it a bit too much to buy.

And the characters, let’s talk about them, shall we? The only character I really liked was Jem. His humility, calmness, and softness was just beautiful. The only other character I really liked was Sophie, and more or less, for the same reasons. I didn’t like Tessa. I didn’t like her inability to choose just one person, but more because she was just this ordinary girl trying to act like Katniss Everdeen. Will too, I could not connect to. I know his backstory is sad, all that happened in his childhood was terrible, but I still feel like his character, his soul is not pure. Whatever happened in his past, it was no excuse for him to be like he was with all the people in the Institute.

Next thing I absolutely hated was how each character was romantically involved with someone or the other in that same group of people. Will. Jem. Tessa. Charlotte. Henry. Gideon. Sophie. Gabriel. Cecily. 9 main characters (let’s leave out the villains). And all 9 of them are romantically involved with someone or the other in those same 9 people. Firstly, the world is not so small. Secondly, it is not always necessary to show each character romantically involved with someone! I can handle characters being single, but I cannot handle so many different ships, for God’s sake! It was so, so terrible. It was all right till Gideon and Sophie showed signs of affection. I could handle it; it was quite cute, in fact. But then, Gabriel comes in and looks at Cecily and I’m look boom! That’s another ship.

Next thing (I promise this is the last) thing which I had a huge problem with was this – every time any of the characters started making out or anything like that, they are always interrupted by a door flying open. Clare used the phrase ‘The door flew open…’ so many times that I really wanted to go send her a dictionary, maybe. The door always flies open when any of the characters start getting a bit romantic, huh. And guess what led to the ‘door flying open’ when Jem and Tessa started making out? A. Cat. Yes. Please tell me whether things can get more pathetic?

And, I think that’s enough of the rant, and the review. This is probably the first time I’ve written such a long review but that’s only because I feel strongly for the trilogy. Negatively strongly.

However, I should also mention the two scenes which did pull the strings of my heart. They are just sentences, but I felt something in these two scenes, and I think I should mention those. (Both the scenes are from Clockwork Princess).

  • The scene where Jem is nearly dying and Will just turns to go find Tessa, and Jem catches his hand and asks him what Magnus meant when he asked Will whether Jem knew that he loved Tessa. That was such a shocking, emotional line. I could feel my heart crying for Jem. Well done, Cassandra Clare.
  • In the very end, when Tessa looks back to her memories with Will and there’s the scene when Jem comes to play his violin when Will is on his deathbed. When he’s playing, there’s a line where Tessa says that Jem had covered his face and turned away when he came to know that Tessa and Will named their first child as James. I cried. I cried SO much there.

And, that is it. I’d again like to remind that this is my personal opinion. I mean no disrespect or hate towards anyone who enjoyed or loved this series. As the saying goes, to each his own.

Thank you.

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