I am such an idiot. A blind, ignorant idiot. *sigh* I'm going to explain why, and it's going to be painful, but first I need to say something else.
Authors are human. They're people, and they have the same rights and responsibilities as anyone else. Saying an author is banned from something, or exempt from something, is just like saying a traffic conductor or a baker or a receptionist "can't do this" or "doesn't have to put up with that". Writing is a hobby or a profession, just like any other hobby or profession; it doesn't change who you are beyond those parameters.
It's sickening to me that so many of Clare's fans defend her by saying, "She's an author! She can do whatever she wants!"
No. It's inexcusable to treat people like dirt, and cheat and lie and steal, and bully and be hypocritical and callous and cruel, just because you're an author. It's inexcusable to take other people's writings, often word-for-word, and publish them as your own - that's called plagiarism. It's inexcusable to get your lawyer friends to patrol the internet and erase records of your lies and cruelty. It's inexcusable to tell someone that their parents should have had them aborted. It's inexcusable to frame people for things they didn't do and try to get them kicked out of their university, just because you're an author.
That is wrong.
Now, with that said.....
I read these books years ago. I hated the covers at first sight and, when I flicked through the pages at the bookstore, I was bored, so I decided never to buy them, but my mother bought them and enjoyed them, and persuaded me to give them a try.
And you know what? I liked them. I thought they were entertaining. I thought the characters were funny and the action was cool. I didn't have any friends who'd read them then, and I didn't use the internet, so I didn't know a thing about Cassandra Clare except for what it said in her "about the author" page.
Now I'm looking at this book's 4.14 overall rating, and I'm so ashamed that I played a part in raising that. I was so stupid.
Okay. For a long time, I loved these first three TMI books. I even enjoyed the first of the Infernal Devices, despite its many obvious flaws. When I heard that Clare was putting out a fourth TMI book, I was actually happy.
I read it, and I hated it. I really, really hated it. I was so disappointed, because at that time I still liked the first three. I decided to give Clare one more chance, and when the fifth book came out and my brother bought it, I read that, too. Or I tried; I couldn't get through it. I literally could not force myself to read past the halfway mark.
Maybe that was the beginning; maybe on some subconscious level, I was actually growing up. You know how you watched those 30-year-old cartoons when you were really little, and now you've grown, you look back on them and they're so cheesy and ridiculous and pitiful that they make you want to laugh? That's how I feel now, except I also want to rip out my hair.
Until about a month ago, I'd heard vague rumors while drifting around on Goodreads. I'd heard that Clare was a plagiarist. I wasn't surprised, but I didn't look back on her books and immediately decide to hate them, either - I mean come on, even J.K. Rowling was guilty of plagiarism.
My real education began today, when I was bored and decided to actually do some research on Cassandra Claire.
Authors are human, okay? Just because she's made a lot of money on these books, doesn't make her some kind of deity. The things she's done to people.....they're inhuman. There are disgusting facts all over the place. She's tried to stamp them out, but they're there. They're not too hard to find.
But that's beside the point, my review is for this book. I tried to read this book again just an hour or so ago, from the beginning.....and I couldn't do it. Everything I knew about plagiarism kept flashing through my head. I kept reading these scenes, and thinking of the original versions of them, before she switched around a few names here and there and pasted them into her book. I couldn't, can't, and will never be able to, read this stuff again.
And that's not all. I'm going to bring up those 30-year-old cartoons again, Thundercats and Transformers and He-Man and Herculoids. I used to think the jokes in those cartoons were funny. I used to be enthralled by the fight scenes. I never cared how corny everything was.
That's what's happened to these books. I've read so many amazing books since I read these last, they've cleared my eyes. The jokes in these books aren't funny anymore. The action is recycled. The plot has nothing in it that I haven't seen done better elsewhere. I actually stare at some of the sentences on these pages now, and I can't believe I never noticed before how silly they are. It's so obvious that Claire thought she was a poetic genius; the prose just reeks of self-satisfaction.
This review is getting long, but I need to point out a few things I notice now that really sicken me.
Clary. Everyone praises her. Everyone. Every single person in the book is awed by her beauty, stunned by her intelligence, entertained by her wit. Isabelle is jealous of her in every way. Alec is jealous of her beauty and charm, for crying out loud. I skimmed over a good portion of City of Bones today before I threw it at the wall, and it's amazing how many pages were wasted on just praising Clary.
A little more realistic description of Clary: she's cowardly, selfish, stupid, naive, whiny, careless, judgemental, and generally worthless in every way. She's a constant ball and chain for the others to drag around. She never ever EVER figures anything out for herself, she needs to be beaten over the head with information before she can absorb it. She is (of course) completely blind to her own stunning beauty, and blind to the fact that half the city is in love with her. She cries like a spoiled toddler when she doesn't get her way, and if there's a trap on the ground, you can bet she'll put her foot in it and then blame somebody else when she breaks an ankle. She's disdainful or jealous of all other girls on the planet, she's obsessed with describing clothing and hairdos, and we all know she judges books (and people) by their covers.
She whines when other people have talents she doesn't - little things like being able to raise one eyebrow. She goes on missions to "save" her "best friend", but then FORGETS ABOUT HIM at least a dozen times, just because she gets hypnotized by another guy's good looks. She's supposedly determined to help her mother, but she FORGETS ABOUT HER over and over again until someone else brings up the subject.
What a kind, sweet, thoughtful friend and daughter she is, no?
And it's not just Clary, really. Most/all characters in this book have at least one, and probably more, of the above traits. They also spend pages and pages and pages praising each other's mental and physical attributes for no apparent reason. None of the characters seem to have any redeeming qualities except for the fact that any one of them could show up at a beauty contest and steal the crown without even trying.
Jace is a whiny, self-absorbed, hypocritical creeper.
Simon is a clueless, helpless, lovestruck dunce.
Isabelle is a jealous, shallow, condescending witch. (Actually, all the women in these books - Jocelyn, Clary, Isabelle, Jessamine, and all the others, seem to look down their noses at females in general. Is this a reflection of some kind?)
Alec is a moronic, opportunistic, pathetic crybaby.
I'd go on, but I don't really fell the inclination. . . .
Claire goes out of her way to make all of her characters "perfect", and I'm not kidding. They're all beautiful, they're all superpowered, they're all "heroic". Each one has something very special about them, something tragic, something secret and mysterious.
"And when everyone's super, *evil chuckle* no one will be." - A quote from The Incredibles
She also included the very obvious token gay character, but she neglected to add the black character. All of her characters who aren't blue-skinned or grey-skinned, are white. All of them. Does she have some vendetta against dark-skinned people? Oriental people? Indian people? Etc.?
Oh yes, and one other interesting fact about me: I was so disgusted with Claire's last two TMI books that before I did my research today, I'd sworn to myself I would never ever EVER watch the movie that is being made from this book. I was still so stupid.....but at least there was one thing that Myself then, and Myself now, can agree on. I'm appalled that it's so easy to find out the truth about Cassandra Clare just from a few searches on Google, and yet millions and millions of dollars are being wasted to put her material on film. It's sickening.
Let me add a few little things about The Mortal Instruments before I'm done.
- The Mortal Instruments was the name of Clare's old Harry Potter Ron/Ginny incest fanfic.
- Lupin/Luke, similar names, both werewolves.
-Muggles/Mundanes. Regular, non-magic humans.
-Voldemort/Valentine. Same number of syllables, starts with the rather uncommon letter V. Valentine wants to purge all those who aren't "pure", like Muggle-borns Downworlders.
-Mrs. Norris/Church. Just because there was a cat at Hogwarts and there had to be one at the Institute, too.
-Ginny/Clary. Red hair. Also, since most of these books are word-for-word from Clare's Harry Potter fanfiction, she seems to have run a search-and-replace to put the name "Clary" where "Ginny" had been.
I could go on forever, because Clare has blatantly stolen themes, jokes, names, and even whole paragraphs from dozens of places. But I'm tired of writing this. I'm tired of thinking about this.
I'm just glad I learned the truth.