For a few weeks now, I’ve been trying to adequately express to others how this is the best YA series that I’ve read in a very long time. This is what I’ve come up with:
“This is the best YA series that I’ve read in a very long time.”
Cassandra Clare quickly grabbed my interested within the first hundred pages of New York Times bestselling novel City of Bones, the first book in her Mortal Instruments series (more to come on this later). So when I finished the first five of those six books, and before the sixth book was released in late May, I decided to take up The Infernal Devices.
For a week and a half, I didn’t prep for my new job, I justified to myself why I had to stay up until ridiculous hours when only me and my Nook were awake, and I avoided making plans, just so that I wouldn’t have to stop reading. Pathetic? Well, that’s a different story for a different day. But the bottom line is this: Infernal Devices is addicting.
The three-book series incepts as Tessa Gray arrives in England from her home in 19th century America while her soon-to-be Shadowhunter (demon-slaying and peace-keeping) friends battle demons on the streets of London. Tessa is supposed to be meeting her brother, her only living relation; whom she meets is actually the Dark Sisters…and that’s where all the drama begins. Tessa discovers she has powers at the hands of the Dark Sisters, who, despite cultivating her powers, are horrible people. Tessa then must escape and find refuge in London’s Institute. And this is all in the first fifty pages.
What follows is a search to and from the Magister (who plots to capture Tessa), a dysfunctional family dynamic revealed, and, of course, a love story.
The love story begins in typical YA fashion: Tessa meets Will, an obvious romantic interest; then Jem, another great guy (or, in this case, Shadowhunter) appears on the scene, and a love triangle ensues. But this triangle, for sure, is unique in its approach, development, and conclusion (definitely conclusion!); in this matter of Tessa’s heart, I can assure you, there is no obvious choice. And, looking ahead to the series’ finale, there is no disappointment. I promise.
Did I mention I am obsessed with Cassandra Clare?
She doesn’t assume ignorance of her readers, which is perhaps her strongest quality as a writer. She imagines and develops complex plots, characters, other-worldly powers, and intriguing creatures, and does not assume, as YA readers, that we need to be re-capped to, or dumbed-down for. She gets that her readers are actual YAs alongside some As who wish they were still Ys too. It’s a delicate balance, but she strikes it.
In terms of logistics, here’s what I suggest: read the first three books of The Mortal Instruments series. (While The Infernal Devices is a “prequel” in time, you’ll want to have The Mortal Instruments background first, and the first three of these books come to a decent stopping point.) Then, break Mortal Instruments for Infernal, and read all three. Give a good sad cry, good cry, everything cry, and then read the last three Mortal Instruments books. This is probably the best bet for absorbing the interlocking plots of the two series. I would also advise against reading five Mortal Instruments, three Infernal, and then the final Mortal Instrument book. Because, as was aforementioned, there is no ending better than the ending of Infernal Devices. And after that ending – well, everything, even the sixth Mortal Instrument – inevitably paled in comparison.