Thursday, February 4, 2010

Review - City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones is the first in the Mortal Instruments trilogy, a young adult urban fantasy series by Cassandra Clare. The storyline centers on Clary, a teenage girl that has been sheltered by her mother from an alternative world her whole life, that of the Shadowhunters. Shadowhunters are the policing force of the "extra-mortal" realm, they hunt down and slay demons effectively keeping the order. One night while out at a club with her best friend Simon, she sees something no one else does, well actually four somethings: enter the three Shadowhunters Isabelle, Alec, and Jace and the demon boy they are luring into a backroom. Clary is in hot pursuit and slips into the backroom only to see the hunters at work, dispatching the demon then disappearing as swiftly as they appeared.

Jace is intrigued with Clary and brings her to the Instititue, secret Shadowhunter abode, after she is brutally attacked by a demon and her mother goes missing. So starts Clary's descent into the world her mother worked so hard to conceal from her. Clary is on a mission to save her mother and discover the part of herself that she has always been sequestered from.

City of Bones has immense potential. The Shadowhunter lore is slowly uncovered piece by piece but never really cemented together. The reader does not get a cohesive view, maybe meant to help the reader bond with Clary, I am not sure. Character development is fairly static, from the minor to major characters including Clary herself. I had a very hard time empathizing with any of them simplying because they did not seem to have more than one distinct emotion associated with each. Isabelle is self absorbed, Jace is arrogant, Alec is pathetic honestly and all three are insanely prejudiced against Downworlders (werewolves, vampires, "half breeds") and mundies (humans). The constant superiority complex gets old really fast. Clary has more depth than the others, but her constant forgetting of her best friend Simon is insulting and does not make me quick to befriend her myself.

The world building is pretty and very well done. The action and battle scenes were engrossing. I had no problem falling right into the scene. I would have liked to hear less about the sun on Jace's hair/eyes/whatever though. The constant obsession she has with him is a bit unsettling.

Many fans of the Twilight series have become fans of the Mortal Instruments as well. Stephanie Myers is even quoted on the cover of City of Bones:
"The Mortal Instruments series is a story world that I love to live in. Beautiful!"
Is it just me or does that quote seem really awkwardly written?

After all the critical negativity I have written above, I must say that the last fifty pages are amazing. The storyline comes together nicely, the clash of emotion between the major characters is palpable, and the action is gut wrenching. If only the entire book had this much heart and soul, I would have given it rave reviews.

Would I have read it if I knew this ahead of time? Probably, the last scene really is worth it but the whole book is really needed to build up to it. Would I read more in the series? Maybe, I borrowed this from a friend and might borrow the others, but would I put money into it? Probably not.

Rating: 3/5

~Helena

2 comments:

Ladytink_534 said...

I'm curious about this one but I'm not really in a hurry to read it. I like the idea of the world and I'm glad to hear that it's done well but the characters sound like they'll get on my nerves anyway.

It's not just you, I had to read the quote twice for some reason.

Helena Sparrow said...

If only she had stopped at the end of the novel, re-read the last couple chapters, kicked her muse in the face, and re-wrote the entire character development/dialogue to match that scene...*sigh*

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