Title: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy > Paranormal
Synopsis: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…
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Let me start off by saying, yes, I know, what have I been doing my entire life? I hadn’t read this book up until now? Am I insane? Have I been living in a rock? Now, I have an explanation as to why it took me so long to pick this up. A lot of the people I depended on before becoming involved in the book-blogging community had hated this book. A lot of people on BookTube had insisted that the first book was bad, that the second book was okay, but things really pick up after the third book. So, yes, I was hesitant. But I wanted to get to The Infernal Devices series as soon as possible, and I’ve heard that the way to read Cassandra Clare’s books is to read them in publishing order. Which is why I finally decided to give this book a go.
See, I was wrong to be hesitant. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have super high expectations going on. I was expecting it to be ordinary, which was why I was so pleasantly surprised. Whatever the reason, I liked it. I enjoyed it immensely. I’m not going to say that it’s a literary gem, or a fantasy book that every YA fantasy book should be judged again, nor am I going to say that Cassandra Clare is the queen of fantasy. But I will say that this book was fast-paced, entertaining and just a good ol’ time. And I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of the series.
I’m very impressed with the world Cassandra Clare has set. She manages to cover all the major points of world-building: a government, a vocation, an institute, a capital, a history. I think this is especially important in all fantasy series. Of course, there’s a lot more that could be covered, but I’m not complaining because it’s a long series and the world will unfold in the upcoming books too.
I enjoyed the subtle discussions about religion, about good vs evil, about inner strife and compromise and redemption. It wasn’t over-done, but these themes existed.
The plot was fast-paced and entertaining. I was never bored. I enjoyed it immensely. There were lots of twists and turns, and that plot twist at the end- nope, I did not see that one coming. I usually suspect where a YA story is going to go, but I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen, nor do I have any idea what’s going to happen next in the series.
I will say, however, that there were a lot of filler scenes in the book. Like, small talk between the main characters that really had nothing to do with the book, nor did it contribute to character development. While it was humorous and enjoyable, it did drag the novel a bit, and the book would have been – perhaps – just as good, if not better, without discussions of waffles.
I thought the characters were very well-developed. I didn’t like our main character, Clary, too much because I thought she was unnecessarily impulsive, and just obtuse. But I did enjoy most of the other character’s personalities and developments, especially Jace and Magnus Bane. I thought they were funny, charming and witty. I was invested in Jace’s story, and I just want to know everything there is to know about Magnus Bane.
I enjoyed Simon’s character too. There were very clear distinctions between the characters’ voices, which I found refreshing. Usually, if there are a lot of characters, their voices and the way they talk seem to jumble up and you can’t really tell them apart by their dialogue. But I could with MOST of these characters (with the exception of Alec). I can confidently say something like, “Oh, that sounds like something Simon would say.” If you’re seeing what I mean.
I also enjoyed that this book contains all the paranormal creatures you can think of. From vampires and werewolves to demons and fairies. It had them all, and I think if people like one or another, they can find something to like within the series.
So, whereas the plot and the characters were very fun, I don’t think Cassandra Clare is a particularly good writer. Yes, she’s creative, and yes, she can develop good characters. But, I found her prose mediocre and cliché. I don’t mean to be harsh, but there’s nothing distinctive about her writing. It’s not flowery, nor is it brief. It hangs in the middle- that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it was very “meh” to me.
She has the tendency to state the obvious. I hate that, because I feel like authors need to not only tell a story, but also credit their readers’ intelligence. There’s a lot of “telling, not showing” going on in the book. Not only that, Clare tends to repeat essential plot points, as if she’s making sure the reader hasn’t missed it. For someone who was completely engrossed in the story and wanted to find out what was going to happen next, this annoyed me. Because it was a waste of my time.
That may have been a little brutal, but I respect and admire Clare’s ability to think up a world and to think up awesome characters. And I’m definitely going to read anything she puts out, because it’s just pretty awesome entertainment.
Would I re-read? Yes.
Would I recommend? Yes.