From what I’ve been told, there is a giant movie franchise based on a young adult book series coming to a close. Fangirls grieve. Whatever will not-so-young adults do for a good mix of girlish excitement and shame? I have the answer: The Mortal Instruments. The trailer for City of Bones came out recently, and despite being conflicted on how I feel about the trilogy, I couldn’t contain my squee. It.Actually.Looks.Good.
The only problem is, well, TMI is no Hunger Games with its widespread acceptability. Like another book series we’ve read and loved and loved to mock, TMI is fun to read, but is typical YA fare, has a
crazy rabid fanbase, slightly nutty origin, and a dubious movie production (Harald Zwart is the director. Remember 2010’s Karate Kid? Yeah, me neither. I kind of liked One Night at McCool’s, but I really was just going through a post Lord of the Rings Liv Tyler phase). Since I read the books, I’ve been equal parts enamored and ashamed. So, to break it down for you TMI virgins, here are five reasons to love and to hide your love for the newest YA onscreen trilogy.
Reasons I’m Ashamed to Like The Mortal Instruments:
- The Author. Cassandra Clare has a strange internet infamy. Years ago she was a Big Name Author in the online Harry Potter fanfiction world; she wrote a very popular story about Draco. Nothing wrong with that. I love me some fanfic. Problem was she got a reputation for plagiarism, and not the regular kind, like stealing ideas from another fanfic author, but the legit kind. She was using dialogue, lyrics, etc from published works and not giving them credit. Not ok. Later on, when she got a publishing deal, word on the fanfic street was she took scenes from her HPfic (not the plagiarized ones) and put them directly into her novels. Not the best practice. When I first found out about this, I was put off. But now, with the entire publishing world being turned on its head by fanfic-to-novel publication, she comes out practically lily white on the ethics side of things. If you’re into all that, you can read more here.
- The Harry Potter factor. Readers love Harry Potter. It’s awesome, completely awesome. Cassie Clare agrees. So much so that when she morphed from HPfic author to Actual Author, she couldn’t get it out of her brain. Her world is full of mythical creatures and wars among them, so there are bound to be some similarities to the popular Wizarding World. However, some of them are downright TWINCESTUAL (I made up that word to look shocking but basically just mean “really really close and not ok”). In TMI, humans are called “mundanes” or “mundies” = Muggles, anyone? The letter-carrying crow’s name is Hugo (Hedwig). There’s a hissing half reptile that talks to the main character in the first couple of chapters. But here are the kickers. The Deathly Hallows/Mortal Instruments are super special tokens that can summon power to anyone who holds all three. The lead character, Clary Fray, is a Shadowhunter – an angelblooded Nephilim – born to kill demons to keep the world safe. BUT SHE DOESN’T KNOW IT at all. She falls into their world, learns of her powers and oh yes, that she’s destined to save them all. Ummmm. Familiar? And the big, bad guy everyone is afraid of – whose “name we all know” and who “took up arms against his fellow Shadowhunters and slew them” in an effort to keep the world “pure” – his name is
- The Fandom. They are a bunch of lovable nuts. If you can handle “MundieMoms” as your source for all things Shadowhunting, then maybe your second hand embarrassment meter is calibrated lower than mine. I cannot even.
- The Plot. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll be vague. The central obstacle to the romance is not your usual love triangle, self-loathing, time and distance, “she’s a wolf, I’m a banana” conundrum. Instead it’s pretty out there. When I first read it, I rolled my eyes and thought, there’s no way this will keep up for three books. Well, it did. And now, I have NO idea how they will put it onscreen and keep people coming back for more. I hope they can. (But I don’t see how they will).
- The Cast. In all honesty, JACE. Jace Wayland – the boy looking hot on the cover of the book. The boy who says amazing stuff like “I know it’s wrong – God, it’s all kinds of wrong – but I just want to lie down with you and wake up with you, just once, just once ever in my life.” GUH. The boy who’s also an incredible warrior, with all kinds of ropey musculature and supreme, cocky, bad boy hotness. THAT boy from the books is … this guy. Jamie Campbell Bower. Cue my cries to the androgyny gods for a miracle. Good news is (hello, segue) they might have heard me.
Reasons I Basically LOVE The Mortal Instruments:
- The Accents. When Jamie Campbell Bower was cast as Jace, we who had been fans of the books wept for the cocky, sexy, manly character we loved. But then a couple of set photos came out in which he did not look totally ridiculous. What was this trickery? And then I saw the trailer and realized one very important thing that redeemed Jamie for me completely: the Shadowhunters, and most importantly Jace, are keeping their British accents. OH SWOON TO THE MAX. Not only does Jamie look astonishingly un-girlish, but when he says, “Welcome to the City of Bones” I’m all “City of BONES is RIGHT!” Ahem. It’s the accent.
- The Cast. Really great actors are in this movie. Lily Collins, while her skills are debatable, looks much like the slight, beautiful, ginger-haired Clary of the books. Lena Headey of Cersei Lannister fame plays Clary’s mom. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is Volde … Valentine. Robert Sheehan from Misfits plays Clary’s nerdy best friend, Simon (one of my favorite characters from the books and SO well cast). The rest are mostly unknowns, but I hope they all get another movie. I mean a good cast can generally make or break a movie. I think this one can make it.
- The Books. They are plentiful. Say what you will about Cassie Clare, but girl is prolific. If you like her world, you almost never have to leave it. TMI has not 3, but SIX books, the last of which is out in 2014. Her Infernal Devices series (which is better IMO – I literally cried for an hour after finishing the 2nd book in this series -HEARTCLENCHES), about hot, tortured Victorian Shadowhunters will be complete this Spring. And she has another series called the Dark Artifices, about Shadowhunters in Los Angeles, in the works. The stories are all connected while standing on their own, so it’s a fangirl’s dream.
- The World. Paranormal teen romance is everywhere. Sometimes I dig it, sometimes I don’t. The Mortal Instruments is fun and believable where a lot of the teen-marketed stuff just … isn’t. There’s a very hot boy falling in love with and protecting a girl who learns to kickass on her own. They spend two more books trying NOT to be in love with each other, so there’s plenty of UST for all. There’s danger, werewolves, vampires, giant demons, and a generally bad dude with plans to rule the world. A lot about it surprised me, and made me cry, and throw my book across the room. It’s just good reads. And really, NOTHING is better than a good book getting turned into a great movie, and knowing about it before the library holds go crazy. Read it NOW.
- The Fandom. Fandoms are fun, bottom line. Getting excited about midnight showings, Special Edition Barbie dolls and 50% off at Hot Topic is a damn good time. Clare is active on twitter and tumblr and gives little breadcrumbs of upcoming novels and movie news to her followers. There’s the potential for a LOT more movies, and tons more forbidden, heartbreaking love. OH, and there’s plenty of scandal for those of you into *that* side of things. Jamie was engaged to Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) until filming started for TMI, and now he’s *scandalous drumroll, please* … dating his co-star Lily Collins. I wonder when they’ll do a photoshoot for Vanity Fair and “Jamily” will be born? Of course there are already rumors that their new tattoos are source-material inspired. We can only hope the crazy runs that deep. There’s plenty to get excited about for a good long while. If you can handle it.
So watch the trailer for yourself, and check out the badass fight scenes, the runes, the glowing steles and angel blades, the flamethrowers, the tons of black leather, the top-notch looking CGI, Jace’s accent, and tell me what you think about Jamie and Lily’s onscreen chemistry and how it relates to that horrible outfit.