narfna’s #CBR4 Review #74: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

CITY OF BONES: A REVIEW IN THREE PARTS

In order to fully process the experience of reading the first book in Cassandra Clare’s ever-expanding Mortal Instruments series, I found it necessary to split my review into three sections. Please feel free to skip around from section to section if the whole review is too long for you, but bear in mind it makes the most sense as a whole review. I apologize in advance, because if you’re anything like me, thinking about this book and the shitstorm surrounding it will consume your mind for days on end. If you need evidence of that, please note that it took me nine. hours. to. write. this. post. (Leslie Knope GIFs included because why not?)

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1. The Book Itself
In the spirit of full disclosure, I devoured this book. I read it in about a day and a half, neglecting things I was supposed to be doing (important things) just so that I could see what crazy thing would happen next. Also, the story was jam packed full of tropes and story arcs that appeal to me. Why was it so full of those things? Well, more on that later, but to be starting out with, all that’s important was that it was ridiculousy readable.

From this point, be warned, SPOILERS AHOY:

If you’ve read much YA, you probably already know the basic plot of City of Bones. Clary Fray is our supposedly normal teen of choice, and she lives in a fictional version of New York City with her artist mother. Her father is dead (. . . OR IS HE?) and her best friend Simon is secretly but obviously in love with her. She’s pretty, but unaware of it. Her farts probably also smell like roses. Then one night when she witnesses a handsome blonde stranger seemingly murdering someone in a club, she finds herself falling into a hidden world where demons are real, and because she can see them (and the people who hunt them) that means she must be part of that world as well. The young man is named Jace, and he is a Shadowhunter/Nephilim, a half-angel being whose mission is to hunt down demons and keep Earth safe. And Clary is a Shadowhunter as well. Surprise!

But Clary’s not just ANY Shadowhunter. She is the daughter of the feared Valentine, a psychotic Master Race kind of Nephilim whose dream it was to cleanse the Shadowhunter world of Downworlders (anyone not Shadowhunter or human, i.e. vampires, werewolves, etc.) and to convert as many humans as possible into Shadowhunters, despite the fact that doing so would kill 80% of them. Clary’s mother took her into hiding when she was little but now she’s discovered her heritage, and her mother has been kidnapped by Valentine’s forces, who are trying to find the Mortal Cup, which Clary’s mother Jocelyn stole from Valentine the night she escaped. So Clary joins forces with the local Shadowhunter team (made of teenagers her age, natch) in order to track it down and rescue her mother. Of course she falls in love with Jace, and there’s a bloody love triangle (actually, a love pentagram). From there, other stuff happens, too, but the important takeaway here is that Simon loves Clary and Clary loves Jace and Jace loves Clary but Jace thinks Valentine is his father and Valentine IS Clary’s father, and also Isabelle hates everyone and Alec is in love with Jace because he’s gay, and there’s also a handsome bisexual Asian Warlock in there as well, and some vampires and werewolves and Simon turns into a rat. And that’s, like, 0.07% of the crazy that happens in this book. (Please do note, however, that no book will ever top the crazy that is Breaking Dawn.)
So what did I think of it? Well, like I said, it’s readable. If you read it really fast with your brain on autopilot, you might even be fooled into thinking Clare has a way with words (and characters). But upon closer inspection, most of Clare’s turns of phrase don’t actually make any sense. For example, after the scene where Clary and Jace rescue Simon the rat from the vampire nest and she’s taken a hefty fall, Clary thinks,

Is that blood? She opened her eyes hazily. Her face felt like one big bruise, her arms, aching and stinging, like raw meat.”

Continue reading

Even Stevens’s #CBRV review #5: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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15-year-old Clary Fray lives in New York City with her artist mother, and does just about everything with her best friend Simon. She has a normal life, or so she thinks. One night while out a club with Simon, Clary discovers the existence of shadow hunters, aka demon hunters, as well as the wide world of demons, downworlders (part demons), witches, warlocks and everything else she always thought was make believe. She is drawn into the shadow hunter world when her mother disappears and Clary finds the apartment torn to shreds and simultaneously comes face to face with a nasty demon. Jace, one of the shadow hunters, comes to her rescue and with the aid of Alec and Isabelle, a brother-sister shadow hunter duo, they attempt to hunt down Clary’s mother, while also investigating the rumor that Valentine, possibly the greatest villain the shadow hunter world, is not only alive, but trying to return to power and dominate the supernatural world once again.

This is a series that I had been resisting reading for awhile, mainly for two reasons: 1) That atrocious cover up there reminded me of a Twilight rip off and 2) it got endless comparisons to Twilight, which didn’t help dispel reason #1. I’m a big fan of YA literature, and just because it’s aimed at teens, doesn’t mean it has to be dumbed down. However, its continued popularity kept my attention, and when I saw it was being made into a movie my curiosity finally got the best of me.

On the whole, I would say that I enjoyed this book. Clare is good at writing action packed scenes and despite having a supernatural theme she kept it pretty grounded and believable.  It was a very quick read and kept my attention. However, I did have a few issues. First of all, Clary is a bit of a Mary Sue. Clary discovers this whole new world and at the beginning she is strong and sarcastic, which I loved, but as the book progresses she kind of fades into the background and basically becomes a mechanism for telling the story of the other characters. She wasn’t obnoxious or annoying, just sort of unremarkable for much of the book. It’s a shame too, because there’s glimpses of where she could be useful but then someone else saves the day (for those who have read it, I’m thinking of the roof scene and the last scene with Dorothea).  My other big issue with the book is that there’s a big reveal near the end of the book, one which I actually liked and found refreshingly different, that results in certain characters acting against the personas Clare has crafted for them throughout the book.

I liked the book well enough and hope that the series will build on itself and become stronger. I will give a little cheat and say that I’m already into book two and it is much more interesting thus far, so that’s a positive sign. If you’re a big supernatural/YA fan I say give it a go if you’re curious – it’s great for a light, enjoyable read.