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Book Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Why I Read This Book
A friend and I had decided to geek out and do a book swap of some of our favorite books. Happily (or sadly, I haven’t decided yet), I received the first three books in the Mortal Instruments Series in exchange for A Song of Ice and Fire and the Abhorsen trilogy. I missed out on a lot of young adult fiction when I was a teenager, as I went from books like Goosebumps right to Stephen King. Therefore, I was excited to sit down and dive into something like City of Bones, a book that I envisioned as a nice distraction from my dry, boring school reading. The result was a mixture of pain and pleasure.
For all the issues I have with the novel, the plot is fairly intricate and has many different layers. I will do my best to give a concise yet informative little summary on the plot.
Ok, so this is how the story goes: Clarissa “Clary” Fray is the fifteen-year-old protagonist. She and her friend zoned buddy, Simon, get plummeted into the world of magical beings, demons, and Shadowhunters when Clary’s mother disappears. The Shadowhunters are, according to legend, part-angel, and they use mystical runes and weapons in order to defeat demons and other nasty things. Clary teams up with a group of three teenage Shadowhunters (brother-and-sister duo, Alec and Isabelle, and sexy blonde womanizer, Jace) led by an old, shut-in academic. Their goal is to find the Mortal Cup, a mystical item that can create new Shadowhunters, in order to find and rescue Clary’s mother.
Author's Goodreads Page
- Cassandra Clare (Author of City of Bones)
Hello Goodreadsers. Here's my official bio:Cassandra Clare was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and ...
Angsty Love Triangles
Although the plot at its core is very interesting and action-packed, there are so many detours the reader is forced to take due to the love triangle between Clary, Jace, and Simon. I guess perhaps many readers tend to feed on and enjoy the sexual tension and teenage issues between the characters because it makes the characters seem more plausible, but I’d personally rather have less angst and more demon slaying, but maybe that’s just me. All in all, I felt that I just wanted the characters to quit stressing over their crushes and cut to the chase. I won’t even say that the fact that the book is geared towards young adults is the cause of the angsty melodrama that pervades the text, as many adult-adults thrive on the same sort of tension and heartache (romance novels, anyone?). Hell, even the queen of teen angst herself, Stephenie Meyer, wrote a blurb for the book that goes as follows, “The Mortal Instruments series is a story world that I love to live in. Beautiful!” If that’s not a warning sign, then nothing is.
I Spy With My Little Eye...A Mary Sue!
The main problem with the book is hard to ignore and get past, as it is no other than the book’s very own protagonist, Clary. The novel reads as a self-indulgent romance fantasy in parts, utilizing the idea that every woman wants to be desired by more than one man and, therefore, have sexual power over both or all of them. (I’m not saying that this may not be true, but I am saying it’s an idea that is very much overused in books, especially urban fantasy ones, including the Twilight series, the Vampire Diaries series, and the Sookie Stackhouse series.) It doesn’t take much to imagine that the author began writing this as a sort of romantic fantasy, starring herself, or at least starring a character who is oddly like the author herself in little, very telling ways. Clary is a redhead (just like the author) and has an ivory complexion (just like the author). Hmm, what a startling coincidence.
Clary’s not very complex, either. Her focuses are very much skewed, at least in my opinion. While she should be focusing one-hundred-percent on finding her mother, she gets sidetracked with her romantic intentions with Jace, who is supposed to be enigmatic and alluring but reads more like a typical high school jerk. She inadvertently takes advantage of her buddy, Simon, who is in love with her (not really a spoiler there, by any means, as his function is to provide a male on the home front for Clary to experience anxiety over). She’s not entirely bright, especially with regards to other people’s intentions, which makes for a plodding pace. The idea that Clary just can’t figure things out allows for the author to have time and space to dwell on Jace and Simon to the breaking point. It’s a sad and upsetting experience when the reader is light years ahead of the novel’s own protagonist.
City of Bones Trailer
The writing style of the book is cringe-inducing in spots. (I hope that the author got a new editor somewhere down the line, or else this series is going to be slow moving.) Some of the writing is admittedly beautiful, but the author destroys it by putting simile after simile after simile in one single paragraph. I guess she missed the day in high school on metaphor, as she only seems to want to use similes.
Let’s try something, shall we? I’m going to open the book to a random page and count the number of similes that breed (like rabbits) with one another all over the page. Page 145 in my loaner copy: there are two very concrete ones and two others that a good debater could make a decent argument for. They aren’t bad similes, per say. One of them on this page I even like: “the polished oak surfaces of the furniture seemed to smolder like somber jewels.” There are just too many. Keep in mind that the print is fairly big and it’s spaced out quite a bit. There isn’t a lot of text on the page, especially not enough to warrant two to four similes.
A Clip from the Movie
Although I had many issues with the book, I will be reading the others, if only for the sake of completion. Overall, the book was soul-crushing in parts due to the lack of strong characterization and the poor writing style, it was a quick enough read that the experience was virtually painless. If books like the Twilight saga is not your thing, I don’t know if I would recommend this book, as, characters and romance-wise, there are too many similarities to count. But if you’re in the mood for something that’s fairly fast-paced and mindless, than perhaps this book is for you to add to your To-Read list. Along with this series, Cassandra Clare is writing a prequel sort of spin-off series called The Infernal Devices. This takes place in Victorian England, but still revolves around the Shadowhunting world. The third one comes out this month.
Overall, I’d give this book a 6 out of 10. Not unbearable, but not quality literature, to be sure.