Characters vs Plot and How The Infernal Devices Stole My Heart

This has truly proved to be a summer spent reading almost anything written by Cassandra Clare. I first spent almost every waking hour of the day reading The Mortal Instruments, and, after a brief literary rebound on The Maze Runner, I moved onto the prequel trilogy to The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices.

(Spoilers will commence from here)

Initially I had little interest in the Victorian era-set London group of Shadowhunters and the newly discovered warlock, Miss Tessa Gray. I knew a few things about it from Tumblr: there was a love triangle, she loved both of them, this world was new to her. That was probably actually it. Of course once I started reading the first installment, Clockwork Angel, I gathered enough from the end of City of Heavenly Fire to realize who she would end up with, and Tumblr spoilers became harder to resist. The romantic plot I found I knew the bulk of, and the action plot was simple to follow and mostly predictable, whereas I prefer unexpected twists and turns. So if I knew so much about the plot and what would happen to the characters, why is it that Clockwork Princess became only the second book I have ever read to make me cry?

Despite knowing what would happen and wanting nothing more than for Tessa and Will to live happy lives together and getting just that, at every description of how happy they were together, and how painful his death was to her, I teared up. In fact, I finished the book Sunday night and my heart still pinches up at the thought of it (on Monday I could barely be alone with my thoughts while driving without being in pain). All of this melodrama for an ending I not only knew would happen but wanted. But that’s what happens when you fall into such a deep love with the characters and have to see them suffer (and man immortality is just the worst).

These books are some of my favorites not for plot or originality, but for the wonderful characters and all of their dynamics. While there will always be characters from The Mortal Instruments I have to be a little more patient with while reading about, those of The Infernal Devices, from Jessamine and Henry to Tessa and sweet, sweet Will, each character had a clear background and motives for their actions, a story as to why they were no longer innocent or trusting, and that made up for any and every moment in which I predicted the plot correctly.

Even the love triangle (and I usually dislike love triangles very, very much) was tied to the essence of the characters. Initially I didn’t believe Tessa loved Jem like she did Will, and now I know that to be true, but she did not love him less. I wanted Will to be her true soul mate because theirs was a love I wanted, full of a bright burning passionate fire as opposed to the slow but steady embers of Jem and Tessa’s love. After thinking about it more though, as well as reading some of Clare’s explanations as to what she intended for the three – to show that people can fall in love with two people at once, that love can be different in nature but equally romantic – I understood it more and more. And because I have now accepted that Will and Tessa’s love was not greater than her and Jem’s (though, admittedly, I do still prefer it, if only for dear Will), I can love and appreciate Jem more for it.

All in all I would recommend the trilogy to anyone who enjoys love, heartache, and strong-spirited women. Though I do warn you: your standards for love may become unrealistically high. Whereas before I couldn’t wait until The Dark Artifices came out, now I am equally excited to read more of Will and Tessa and Jem and their children in The Last Hours. I also have decided immortality is the worst thing you could force on a character. Oh, and that I’m going to name my daughter Cecily!

Have you read The Infernal Devices? What did you think of it? And do you think dynamic characters can excuse a predictable plot? Let me know! I love discussing books.

One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” – Clockwork Angel

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