Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Shadowhunters: Do I Even Like the Books, or am I just too Far Down the Rabbit Hole to Quit?

Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog! I'm Genni, and today I wanted to do another little discussion post, once again on a popular series. If you missed my last post about rereading Percy Jackson in quarantine, check it out here. But if you want to read about my existential crisis with Shadowhunters, read on.

My history with Shadowhunters tracks back to my middle school years, when the first adaptation of City of Bones, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was released in theaters. Like many others, I did not watch it. However, I was now aware of the series; Lily Collins' eyebrows might have made me watch the trailer, but City of Bones was now in the corners of my psyche. Later that year, I bought the e-book edition of City of Bones, only to be gifted a week later the paperback edition. It was a sign, folks. And then I tried to read the book multiple times... and failed. But being the try-hard I am, I gave it a fourth go, and it stuck. Even then, I didn't really like City of Bones, but the aforementioned friend told me that I would be hooked by the third book.

My friend wasn't wrong. I didn't particularly enjoy City of Bones or the second book, City of Ashes, but I'm the first to admit that the third book, City of Glass, was pretty great. And then I started a blog, and my thoughts have been immortalized since. In late 2015, I gave the fourth book in the Mortal Instruments series four stars, the fifth 4.25 stars, and while I didn't review the sixth and final book, City of Heavenly Fire,  on my blog, my 2017 goodreads review is succinct with, "This was so damn good! 4.5 stars." Okay..then. So I guess I did like the series?

Lies. My apparent love for Mortal Instruments was a facade. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the books, but I also felt a pressure to love them because everyone else seemingly did, as well. When I didn't really like Clockwork Angel, the first book in Clare's Infernal Devices trilogy, I still gave it a 3.8 stars (oh, what an arbitrary scale I used!) even though I said, "I just couldn't care for the characters and I haven't connected to them at all yet" and "I didn't relate to any of the characters or parts of the plot." While hindsight is 20/20, it's clear I didn't even really like Clockwork Angel back then, but I still gave it a favorable rating out of fear of going against the crowd. I was a proverbial sheep, and I don't blame myself; I was 15 and blogging. I had opinions, but I wasn't steadfast in them, being easily persuaded by big names loving the series.

Fast-forward to June of 2020. Approaching my 21st birthday, not only do I hold tight to my opinions, but I've also caught up with the Shadowhunters canon. Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices? Both done. Clare's third series, The Dark Artifices? Also read. And today, I finally finished Chain of Gold, Clare's most recent addition to the Shadowhunter chronciles. Luckily for me, the bookstore I work at received an ARC of the book, and I snatched it up. And then it sat in my room for a couple months. Even I questioned my behavior; why am I letting of YA's most anticipated releases sit on my bedroom floor when I have the chance to read it before getting inevitably spoiled? And I came to the conclusion: I don't actually care that much about the series.

While I've read all of Clare's core series - none of the coauthored series or novellas, however - I found myself not really caring about Chain of Gold at all. The Dark Artifices series might have been my favorite of Clare's series, but Chain of Gold has no big tie back to that trilogy, but rather the one I had mixed feelings on half a decade ago. And when I finally did pick up the book, it took me three weeks to finish it. In that time, I started and finished other books, watched who-knows how many tv shows, and worked full time. I was busy, but reading Chain of Gold was also really low on my to do list; there were times when I questioned just putting the book away for another day.

This most recent experience, and my previous one with Queen of Air and Darkness - the final book in my favorite series, but one I put down for almost a full year - makes me question whether I even like the series to begin with. I haven't come clear to an answer but I do know this: sometimes Cassandra Clare's books seemingly have little to no plot, and while character-driven stories are fine, they aren't when I don't really care about the characters. Also, every time I open a Cassandra Clare book, my eyes rebel because of that fucking font. It takes me hours to acclimate to it, most definitely impeding my enjoyment. And yet, I know I'm going to continue reading. I might not be biting at the heels for another book, but I've been reading these books for almost a decade now, and I don't see myself stopping until Clare does. But in the wait between books, maybe I'll find some fantasy reads that I wholeheartedly enjoy, rather than ones I may not even like, let alone love.