On the Mortal Instruments series

When Laws Are Made to Be Broken

By Robin Wasserman

“We Shadowhunters live by a code, and that code isn’t flexible.”

–Jace Wayland, City of Bones

Imagine that your best friend came to you one day, brimming with excitement because she’d met these super-awesome new friends who suggested she come live with them, follow a bunch of arcane and unquestionable laws, and cut ties with all her old friends because they’re incapable of understanding her new super-awesome life.

If you’re a child of the ’80s like me, reared on a steady diet of Jonestown horror stories and trashy novels about brainwashed teens, you would immediately recognize the situation for what it was: Your best friend has joined a cult.

If you’re not a child of the ’80s but not completely oblivious, you’d still clue in pretty quick: definitely a cult.

Simon Lewis is far from oblivious.

As he tells his best friend, Clary Fray, in City of Ashes, “The Shadowhunter thing–they’re like a cult.” Clary denies it, of course, because who wants to admit they’ve been suckered into a cult? But Simon’s got evidence: “Sure they are. Shadowhunting is their whole lives. And they look down on everyone else…They’re not friends with ordinary people, they don’t go to the same places, they don’t know the same jokes, they think they’re above us.” Simon may have a somewhat bizarre definition of cults–he could be describing a particularly snobbish bunch of cheerleaders–but you’ve got to admit he has a point. Like any good cultists, Shadowhunters forswear allegiance to anything that could interfere with their loyalty to  …

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