Monday, December 13, 2010

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

City of Bones
by Cassandra Clare

Clary Fray considers herself a normal girl... that is, until she starts seeing some really strange things. People who aren't there, boys with claws for fingers, evil monsters in her own home. Suddenly confronted with a world she'd never known was there... and a boy she never would have imagined could exist... Clary finds herself tripping blindly through situations totally alien to her.

Character Likability:
Clary: I enjoyed Clary... she's a female character who, despite being attracted to Jace, isn't consumed by it, and this is so refreshing it's unbelievable. She has a mission... to save her Mother, and everything else is just kind of bonus for the reader, but not the main focus. Clary is on a set path to do what she feels she needs to do, and she absolutely gains my respect for that. There is no sniveling over dreamy boys... oh sure, there are dreamy boys, but Clary is smart enough to know what matters in life, and to chase after that first.
Honestly, Clary is what Bella from Twilight SHOULD have been... a strong, independent girl who thinks for herself, and thinks about what is important first, and not just how HAWT the guy she's with now is.
Jace: Snarky, good at what he does, and placed in the story to be the obvious love interest, he remains an interesting character. His past is tragic, his upbringing questionable, and his views on what good parenting is are horribly skewed... but, thanks to said tragedy, he was saved from a totally barbaric upbringing and manages to be a somewhat caring, thoughtful guy.
Simon: Clary's "Mundie" friend from school, Simon is obviously in love with her, and has been for years. Honestly, if Clary and Simon don't end up together, I might actually be mad. Thankfully though, while Simon is wrapped up in his own little love triangle angst, Clary just doesn't have time for it... so the love story isn't sickening and overwhelming, but is actually useful to the story... and despite Simon being part of the "love triangle"... he's a useful, interesting, developed character who I want to see more of.
Alec: A newer twist on the love triangle thing, Alec is in love with Jace, but has never told him. Clary realizes this pretty much from the start. Alec is Jace's partner in hunting demons. I appreciate that Alec is not in the running as a potential mate for Clary, because frankly, I find him more interesting than Jace early on and would have chosen him.
Also, just a note... I've noticed a real upswing in homosexual male characters in YA literature... but not an upswing of homosexual female characters. I find that odd. 
(In fact, the only one I can think of recently was in the Anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns)
Now, I'm not talking about books specifically about the trials of being homosexual, I'm talking about extra characters. It seems I've run across quite a few of the gay male friends, but rarely any lesbian ones. It feels like there is a subtle undercurrent saying that male homosexuality is permissible since they can make such good buddies... but female homosexuality is still taboo.
Isabelle: Possibly the least fleshed out main-ish character in this book. I hope she gets more depth later on.
Luke: The obvious "Not what he seems" father-figure... Luke is a character that I was a little disappointed in, just in so far as he wasn't really mysterious. You could see what was happening, and it didn't shock you.
Valentine: A FANTASTIC villian. This man is wicked and evil. He's not cut back or toned down for the kiddies... he's all out there, waving his evil flag around like he's claiming a new world... and he kind of is. He's done terrible things, has a well thought out, elaborate evil plan, and is just wickedly cruel to everyone, even those he should love. I'm very interested to see *why* he became so evil.

Quality of Writing:
This was a fairly fast read for me, so the style wasn't choppy or distracting. There wasn't anything particularly beautiful or poetic about it, it was straight to the point, telling the story as it needed to be told.

Since this is part of a trilogy, it wasn't concluded as far as the BIG story goes... but the ending of this one was satisfying and set you up to want to read more. There was a twist that, while I saw it coming, I was incredibly glad it existed... and there is still a LOT for the main characters to accomplish.

Girl realizes the world isn't what she thinks it is.
Girl gets sucked into new world.
Girl realizes only she can get herself out of this mess.
Girl kicks some arse while still fumbling around and not knowing what she's doing (I really appreciated this, actually).
Girl realizes this is just the tip of the iceburg.

Ok, honestly there's so much more going on than just that. This is a fun, rich story full of layers and magic and we get to discover this new world right along with Clary, and I think knowing what she knows is a wonderful way to do that. I enjoy it, as a reader, when things aren't revealed to me too quickly.

Believability of World:
It's a pretty well thought out alternate version of our world.

Overall Grade: A-


  1. Great review, Heather! I really enjoyed City of Bones and the universe Clare created. I can't wait to see what you think of City of Ashes! :)

  2. I thought this series was solid...good plot, interesting characters, and well written. Is it true there's going to be a fourth book?

  3. I really like this book--I agree with you on the writing style; Clare's writing is straight to the point.