Title: City of Bones
Series: Mortal Instruments #1
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: McElderry Books
Publication date: March 2007
Source: Copy received from Katherine Skye (Thanks!)
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…
Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.
This is a hard review to write, because I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this book. There were a lot of things I liked about it, but there were also some that bugged me and marred my enjoyment. I’m going to try to organise my thoughts into words.
The writing. The book’s classified as YA? Is that right? Yet, for the most part, the tone of the writing seemed fairly juvenile. As did the dialogue. These characters are ages 15-17(ish), yet they sounded far too precise in their diction to the point it was almost like reading an old Famous Five book. Actually, the entire story kind of reminded me of Harry Potter & Famous Five combined with a good dose of urban fantasy & action. And seeing as it wasn’t set in England, this gave the entire read a slight ‘off’ feel that I couldn’t shake even as I went deeper into the tale.
Then there was the whole Jace & Clary issue. I so wanted something to develop between them, which it did, so to then be smacked with that whole episode near the end that sullied this line of the story something chronic was just horrid. I spent the entire final chapter of the book waiting for some revelation for it to be wrong. For it to be lies. For everything to be okay again. But that never came.
So then I went and did something I never do. I headed off to Goodreads to check out blurbs for the later books in the series. Thankfully, it appears this bothersome affair might get straightened out eventually. However, without that assurance, there’s a good chance I would not consider reading on—and folk who read this book when it first came out would not have had that reassurance. I’ve got to wonder if this bugged anyone else.
But those things aside, let’s look at why exactly I read on.
The world building. The action. The adventure. The characters.
The world building was cool. It seemed a lot to follow at first, which is likely why the first 60% of this book was incredibly slow and long-winded (there were a lot of places that could have been culled and a lot of descriptions—especially of urban scenes—that could have been condensed without losing anything yet upping to the pace), but at around the 65%-ish mark, more interesting occurrences began arriving, and the pace seemed to suddenly take off a little, and I found myself better absorbed in the read.
The action. See above comment re: pacing. The spot where the pacing picked up was around the same spot we had more action. And once the action began, it seemed to be an ongoing roller coaster of ducking from one situation to the next.
The adventure. It was an adventure. From start to finish. But it would have been a much better adventure if the pacing had been better controlled (last mention of it, I promise).
The characters. I didn’t like Isabelle’s character very much, nor her brother. Even when they suddenly acted ‘nicer’ right at the end, I didn’t like them very much. Because people don’t naturally flick a switch on their behaviour or emotions and just turn it around like that—there needs to be a more gradual build up. However, I did seriously like Luke, and Simon, and Jace & Clary (though I do think Clary is going to end up leading Simon along and then breaking his heart, so I might change my mind on her a little). These four peeps, I’d be interested in reading more about—but only if the pace is faster.
That is all.
Have you read this title? What’d you think?