Monday, January 21, 2013

Shadowhunters and Downworlders by Various

Shadowhunters and Downworlders by Various
Release Date – January 29, 2013
Publisher Website - Smartpop
Publisher Social Media -  Twitter
Pages -  256 pages
My Rating- 4/5
**Received from publisher for review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, epic urban fantasy set in a richly imagined world of shadowhunters, vampires, werewolves, fairies, and more, has captured the imaginations and loyalty of hundreds of thousands of YA readers. Originally a trilogy (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass), the series has extended to six titles, plus a prequel trilogy, the Infernal Devices, and a planned sequel series, the Dark Artifices. A feature film is planned for 2013. 
Shadowhunters and Downworlders, edited by Clare (who provides an introduction to the book and to each piece), is a collection of YA authors writing about the series and its world.
As a fan of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series I was immediately intrigued by this collection of essays by other authors about the Shadowhunter world. These thought provoking and insightful essays reminded me how deep Clare’s world goes, and how far reaching the characters, and themes really are. In short, it made me fall in love with the series all over again.

Each essay highlights a different aspect of Clare’s world, characters or the themes found within. Some stood out more than others for me, but each was worthy of reflection and had relevant, and thoughtful points. Each is well researched, not only of the topic itself, but with highly researched examples from the series.

Unhomely Places by Kate Milford

Part love letter to New York City, and partly dedicated to the rush, and exhilaration of finding something new and exciting in your own backyard (so to speak). Using Clary’s eye opening, and jarring thrust into the hidden world of the Shadowhunters as backdrop, Milford recounts the delights, and sometimes unpleasantness of having your surroundings be unfamiliar. 

I found myself inspired to hop on a bus and get off on a street I’ve never walked down before and see what my own city had hidden, and waiting to be discovered.

The Art of War  by Sarah Cross

Art plays a huge part in Clary’s life, even after her introduction to fighting demons. She uses it as a weapon, and this essay illustrates how this talent is not only makes Clary resourceful, but also relatable to those reading the story. 

Sharper Than a Seraph Blade by Diana Peterfreund 

An ode to Jace, and what makes him tick. This one really shed new light on Jace, and allowed me to see a few things I hadn’t really thought of before - namely how much Jace uses his sharp wit as armour.

When Laws Are Made to Be Broken by Robin Wasserman 

The most thought provoking essay out of the bunch. A look at why we follow authority figures. It highlights the difference between allegiance to an institution, and humans. Humans make mistakes and often we are capable of challenging those beliefs. We are more likely to put faith in an intuition with absolute laws and this essay showcases prime examples from the series wonderfully.

Simon Lewis: Jewish, Vampire, Hero by Michelle Hodkin

Capturing the heart and soul of what makes Simon such an intriguing character, Michelle Hodkin hits on exactly why Simon is a true hero.

Using his Jewish heritage, and contrasting his newly obtained vampirism she makes a strong case for why our choices, and actions define who we are, rather than being defined by what we are.

Why the Best Friend Never Gets the Girl by Kami Garcia

Using delightful 80’s movies (particularly John Hughes directed films) Kami Garcia looks at the phenomenon she refers to as the Duckie effect. Her argument is backed up and sadly, the best friend really doesn’t get the girl. I found it interesting that the reverse happens if the character is a girl however. A fun look at romance in various forms that left me wanting to watch many of the movies mentioned. 

Brotherly Love by Kendare Blake

Love, sex and the taboo of it all. Kendare handles the incest plot, and what exactly about Jace and Clary’s romance made you root for them against such odds. An intriguing look at how Clare wove this storyline into the plot, and made it work.

Asking for a Friend by Gwenda Bond

The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices are both filled with friendships, particularly Simon and Clary and their unwavering bond. It's these bonds that tie the storylines together, and this essay reflects on why these friendships may be even more important to the plot than the romances.

(Not) For Illustration Purposes Only  by Rachel Caine 

An informative look at tattoos through history and how they might really hold magical qualities (especially to some religions, backgrounds and cultures). Using the marks of the Shadowhunters as inspiration, Caine looks at what it would mean if tattoos could provide abilities.

The Importance of Being Malec by Sara Ryan

This essay was one of my favourites. It deals with having characters that not only show us mirrors but who allow windows. In essence, characters that not only are familiar to us, and show us some of ourselves, but also ones that allow us a window into the unknown. A thought provoking essay that urges you to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” through literature.

The inclusion of Magnus and Alec and their importance, and popularity are discussed, as is what it means to have them in a series as popular as Clare’s.

Villains, Valentine, and Virtue by Scott Tracey 

The importance of a good villain can not be ignored, and Scott Tracey makes his case for Valentine, and what makes him so captivatingly evil. As Tracey points out, it is Valentine’s all too human (and all to recognizable) side that makes him especially chilling.

Immortality and Its Discontents by Kelly Link and Holly Black 

Holly Black and Kelly Link offer an interesting conversation style essay on immortality, what it means, and how it impacts the characters.

The novels (both series) have immortality woven throughout both, and in some cases it’s a major plot aspect of certain character arcs. It caused me to consider the pros, and ultimately the cons of living forever.

What Does That Deviant Wench Think She’s Doing? Or, Shadowhunters Gone Wild  by Sarah Rees Brennan

Sarah Rees Brennan’s essay is all about Shadowhunters (and Downworlders) behaving badly. Risque relationships, forbidden desires, and accepting our deepest wishes are the take away from this and how whatever those are, it’s okay to embrace them. Acceptance, tolerance, and love…not a bad message to leave off on.

A treat for any fan, especially if you like dissecting and analyzing literature. Michelle Hodkins’ fantastic essay was a stand out for me, but all of them are worth a read. I collection that shows a person’s experience and perspective can influence how they interpret novels, and impact how they view the elements within them.

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