Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments: Book One) by Cassandra Clare

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416914285
ISBN-13: 978-1416914280
Source: Bought from (because I HAD to have hardbacks to match my signed City of Glass because I felt it would look better. So basically, I'm a freak.)
Cover: I'm not wild about this cover. It's visually interesting and it looks gorgeous sitting all big and gleaming in my hands but it didn't make me need to pick up right away. In fact, I didn't until recently. That being said, it looks much better in person and I love all three covers together. So it grew on me.
First Sentence: " "You've got to be kidding me," the bouncer said, folding his arms across his massive chest."

The Mini-Review: With a solid plot, great writing and lovable characters, City of Bones is a great start to what promises to be an outstanding series.

The Book Summary:

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 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, warrior dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It is 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...

The Review:

Clare infuses unforgettable and lovable characters into a gritty world that feels like it's just around the corner in New York City. The plot had me racing through the bulky page count to see how the characters were going to make it out alive. Though I'm not usually a fan of third person because it makes it incredibly hard to connect about a character, Clare succeeds at giving the reader a reason to care about her leads and guides the reader to a somewhat comfortable ending for a debut.

Following Clary Fray in the heavily urban backdrop of New York was fun because she never let her "mundane"ness stop her from fighting. From the very beginning, Clary was interested in figuring out what was going on behind the scenes and she didn't let little things like the word "no" stop her. When she is attacked by a demon in the beginning, she relies on herself to fight, not for Jace or anyone for that matter to save her. I kept expect Jace to barge in and save her at the last minute but it never happened and I was so thankful for this. Clare gave us a smart, inquisitive heroine who took situations far beyond her control into her own hands and Clare allowed her to flourish. Everything out of Clary's mouth was observant or smart and she had a quick witted response to through back at Jace whenever the time called for it.

Speaking of wit and quick retorts, both Simon and Jace were the king of them. There were so many times I'd laugh out loud while reading this novel because of the witty dialog. Jace was an interesting character in that he always told you the truth and I believed it. He was strong and good at what he did. I wanted to swoon but I found it hard as Clare repeated reminded us how young the characters were. I had a hard time picturing a lean and muscular guy like on the cover every time I read how Jace was the youngest Shadowhunter in history or when a character reminded him that he was just a child. I got frustrated with it. However, the compliant is small and I'm hoping it's a wrinkle that will smooth out in the next installment of the series.

I thought Simon was equally worth note. Though he wasn't trained to fight, he always came through. I enjoyed his friendship with Clary and the fact that he used his wit for more than just great one liners. He always had a plan whether it was to get Clary jealous or burst in at the last moment and defeat a demon. He knew what he was doing and for that, I really liked him. I'm really interested to see how he will progress in the series.

Reading this novel reminded me of two things. The first is Harry Potter (and no, not in a "Clare copied Potter" sort of way-- I think that just because they both have flying bikes doesn't mean they are the same, that's like saying since Rowling wrote about wizards with wands then no one else can.). Bones reminded me of Potter in the way that it read. It had a very storybookesque quality to the writing. The third person narrator who knew what was going to happen. Basically, I trusted the voice to lead me safely through the novel to the other side and I don't usually get that in a third person novel. I also never felt like the voice talked down to me.

I was also reminded of playing a Final Fantasy game because of the atmosphere that was created. The crazy costumes and over top hair, the gritty city that mixed swords and cell phones. The broadsword wielding hero with a shock of blonde hair and the evil guy from the past who started out with the best intentions. It all reminded me of a video game. This added to my enjoyment.

All this being said, this novel wasn't without its flaws. There were times when Clary would explain something about the world to another character and I'd have no idea where she learned it herself. Since Clary was experiencing everything in that world the same time as the readers, it really showed when she knew something we didn't. There were also places where Clary would connect something completely random that wasn't even hinted about beforehand. For instance, she asks Isabelle if Alec is gay and there was nothing to hint at it before hand. After the question comes up, we see more of that behavior but there is nothing beforehand to suggest he's gay. Also, and this has to do with the third person, there were times in the novel where reactions were too exaggerated and jumped out from no where.One minute Clary would be fine with Isabelle and the next she'd think she was a bitch and all Isabelle would do is look at her. I just didn't think some actions warranted the reactions.

The last major thing I had wrong with this novel was the ending. When The Big Secret (you know what I'm talking about if you've read it) is revealed, I just kept waiting for someone to tell me it was a joke. And waiting... and waiting and then the last page came and it never did. I really hated this. As a reader, I felt tricked and not in a pleasant way. Also, during that last scene, I could feel some confusion in the fluidness of the writing. For me, that's where it was most obvious that this was a debut novel. Anyway, the ending bothered me so much, I went on Wikipedia and had to look up some things and spoil the ending for myself just to put my sick mind at ease. What redeems this ending for me and will make me keep reading is the fact that I cared enough to look it up. I wanted to make sure everything was going to be okay. That shows me that the writing and the characters were worth spending more time with.

Don't let the little things get in the way of you trying this novel for yourself. So it's not perfect. Rarely anything is. This novel is a fun read with a wonderful and gritty environment, characters to love, a whole bunch of awesome paranormal creatures and a plot that will make this whooping 495 page book seem short. City of Bones is worth every page.



  1. Hey Amber! I'm glad you read and reviewed City of Bones, I loved it soooo much!! :D

    About the Alec thing, I thought the hints were kind of there. When they were at the bar, Alec got jealous of Jace talking up another chick, and I think that's when Clary knew.

    Also, I knew about the plot twist before I read the book, so I was expecting it. I actually like it, because compared to other YA books, it truly IS forbidden love, not just that "Oh no, I can't be with you because you're a badass vampire/angel/werewolf and I'm human" stuff that the characters inevitably circumvent anyway.

    I love reading your reviews, as always, so thank you!

  2. I've loved this series! I really hope Cassandra Clare doesn't ruin everything with the 3 new books...

  3. I read her Clockwork Angel but that is the only Clare I've read. I liked it well enough to look into her other books. I should probably read this one before the movie comes out.


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