Book Reviews

[review] City of Bones – Cassandra Clare

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder – much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing – not even a smear of blood – to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know….

Discovery: I’ve known about this series for a few years now, but have been studiously avoiding it. I know about Cassandra Clare’s fanfiction history and accusations of plagiarism and although many of my favourite authors are friends with her, I’ve come to distrust her work on principle. My decision to read these books now come from my desire to be a fair and honest reviewer. I won’t tell anyone a book is badly written unless I’ve read it, so I figure this is as good a place as any to start.

+     Humour. I was pleasantly surprised by how funny the dialogue was in this novel. Most of what I’d heard about the Mortal Instruments focused on the romance between Jace and Clary, so I wasn’t expecting to find much humour. Clary has a biting wit when she wants to use it, and Simon made me crack up more than once. I loved the interaction between Clary and Isabelle and I’m pretty sure Isabelle is going to be one of my favourite characters.

+     Supporting characters. Again, Jace and Clary might be the main characters, but I found myself more interested in Alec, Isabelle, Luke and Hodge. Alec is especially important to me because I like the inner conflicts he undergoes. At the beginning of the novel, he seems older and more burdened than Jace, but as the story progresses, he becomes a young boy who has insecurities galore. Isabelle is the same way. Luke reminds me a lot of Remus Lupin and his problems, and I don’t know how I feel about that comparison.

–    Cliches. I’ve never seen so many copied ideas/cliches in my life: the girl who all the (bad) boys want, the evil villain who wants to “purify” the world, the tortured bad boy, the twist in the romance (which, by the way, I laughed at for ten minutes straight–people are going to feel so weird walking out of the movie). Mundies are Muggles too. Everything seems ripped straight from popular culture. Even the Mortal Instruments aren’t unique, as J.K. Rowling did it first with the Deathly Hallows. I felt like Cassandra Clare made a list of all the tropes that made books and films successful and decided to dump them all into her novel.

–    Writing style. I am a grammar freak. Seriously, seeing grammatical/spelling errors in any text makes me twitch. If there is a pen handy, red or not, I will correct it. If I owned this book, it would be a sea of red. Misplaced commas, awful phrasing and repeated words. When I read Twilight, I played a game where I kept a tally of how many times certain words–golden, smell, eyes, topaz–were repeated. After the first three chapters of City of Bones, I wanted to break out my tally sheet again. The chapter from Luke’s point-of-view was also jarring and nothing more than a massive info dump, which seems clumsy.

Recommendations: I’m reserving my recommendations for when I finish the series, which should be around next week. For now though, it’s not looking good. The characters need to be more developed than they are to make up for the negative points.

Rating: Satisfactory.

Next review: Wither, Lauren DeStefano

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