Rereading the Mortal Instruments trilogy and having almost finished by now, I started researching and reading about the books and the author on the internet and after having read some of the harsh criticism there I felt like writing my own opinion down. This isn’t a professional review – just some thoughts I had on this topic, so excuse the occasional “not-structure” of this text.
As I was active in the Harry Potter fandom for a while, of course I knew who Cassandra Cla(i)re is, even though I haven’t read her Draco Trilogy. Still, I heard about the plagiarism controversy, that she is said to have copied ideas and even whole passages from other writers’ works.
Anyway, that was all I knew when I started reading the MI’s first book, “City of Bones”. I came across it at Barnes & Noble looking for some light literature for my vacation in March and remembered that she was a former fanfiction author who got published with her original work. So I thought I could give it a try and started reading.
Before I go on with anything else, I have to say that the book is quite an enjoyable read. But I also have to say that it only is if you don’t read it expecting a literary masterpiece or constantly having the fandom background in mind. Because there’s no point denying there are severe similarities to all the fandoms the author was a member of, some of which I would like to point out here.
The most striking and blatantly obvious ones are certainly the various parallels to Harry Potter. The evil overlord called “Valentine” (9 letters and starting with “V” – I can’t believe she or at least her editor didn’t choose a different name!), the redhead heroine who falls in love with a blonde, strikingly handsome and cool, but sometimes bitchy guy while her brunette, more unpopular male best friend (who’s wearing glasses) has a crush on her…I really don’t need to say more to make the Ginny/Harry/Draco triangle that is so popular in fanfiction more obvious, do I?
Alas, there’s more: the group of followers of Valentine (called the “Circle”), some of which have left him before he disappeared and was believed dead, only to mysteriously reappear 15 years later (and why do I feel like I’m explaining the Harry Potter plot to somebody right now?).
Having pointed that out, I think it is understandable that so many people can’t accept this as serious writing and honest storytelling. I could say it could have happened unintentionally, but this is just too obvious. I know that a lot of authors find their inspiration in works of others, maybe use ideas or names they’ve heard or read about somewhere else in their own works. I probably do it myself when I write, it might happen even without you noticing it – but just not to this extent. Clare must be aware of these parallels and either don’t care or be too ashamed about it.
I also heard that she obviously took whole passages out of her Draco Trilogy and used them in the novels. But I can’t comment on that as I haven’t read it and anyway, I don’t think that would be so bad – as long as these passages are fully derived from her own imagination 😉
I have no idea if Clare ever said anything about these similarities in some interview or statement – but anyone who is only a little familiar with the HP series and not even actively taking part in the fandom will notice them sooner or later. It would certainly be interesting to know what she has to say about this, but I doubt she will give an open statement or interview – it would just negatively affect her popularity.
There are quite a few other plagiarism accusations about the Mortal Instruments, mostly concerning other fantasy works – you can find out which they are if you search the net for reviews. I won’t name those here because I cannot judge in how far these accusations might be true – I just don’t know these works so obviously I wouldn’t notice amny similarities.
Anyway, to bring this post to an end, I can only say that I think it is sad that she apparently didn’t see the need to restructure her characters and the setting in a way that would have made the HP parallels less obvious, e.g. giving the main characters other looks or slightly changing the plot.
Because the story has potential – it has some very interesting and captivating ideas in it which make it a page-turner. Still, one mustn’t forget that it was designed for teenage readers. But if you like an easy-going story with some suspense and interesting twists and can forgive the obvious similarities, you should give it a try.
It really isn’t that bad.