Tuesday, 7 April 2015

BOOK REVIEW: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Book Title: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publication: February 19th, 2008 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Page Count: 442

Goodreads & Amazon

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

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 murders 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 venegence, 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 did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know...

For her entire life, Clarissa 'Clary' Fray believed that she was simple and normal teenage girl, until she witnesses a murder committed by three teenagers at the Pandemonium Club -- three teenagers that she can only see. Confused and worried that she is going crazy, City of Bones chronicles Clary's journey of learning the truth behind her origins: she is a Shadowhunter, a warrior, a demon hunter. Clary is forcefully thrown into this world after her mother, Jocelyn, is suddenly violently taken in the middle of the night and she is determined, with the help of Jace Wayland, and siblings Isabelle and Alec Lightwood, to get her back. Meanwhile, there are numerous rumours circulating about the return of Valentine, a notorious and disgraced Shadowhunter, who may drastically change their lives forever. 

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, the first novel is the six book, young adult fantasy series: The Mortal Instruments, is definitely one of my most favourite books. This was my fourth time reading it, and the first time after watching the disappointing movie. However, as I patrolled the Goodreads reviews last night it became apparent that the readers of the City of Bones either love it or hate it -- there is no in-between. To be honest, I find this peculiar. I understand that not everyone has to love this book, but there are definitely aspects of the City of Bones that avid readers will, at the very least, appreciate. Clare's writing, in particular, is exceptionally beautiful, and at times almost poetic. By choosing to write the novel in third person, she is able to capture aspects of the characters, the plot and the scenery in ways that she would not have been able to successfully achieve in first person. For example:

"In the centre of the room sat a magnificent desk. It was carved from a single slab of wood, a great heavy piece of oak that gleamed with the dull shine of years. The slab rested upon the back of two angels, carved from the same wood, their wings gilded and their faces engraved with a look of suffering, as if the weight of the slab were breaking their backs."

Additionally, avid readers will come to appreciate the extensive world-building. Clare has successfully created a supernatural world within our own that positions readers to believe that the Shadow World may actually be surrounding us. Readers slowly learn about the Shadowhunter world, not in large or overwhelming 'info-dumps', but spread out throughout the books pages. Most of the world-building, in fact, comes from the character themselves, especially when teaching Clary. Their world is vast and intricate, with rules and laws. However, there is little development concerning the world of the Downworlders (i.e. the vampires, werewolves, warlocks, etc.). Their world is only explored through their relationship with the Shadowhunters, but if I remember correctly their worlds are explored separately in the next few novels.

What brings me back to the City of Bones is the characters. I do, however, feel a little conflicted over my like for Clary. I absolutely adore her, but there are a few instances throughout the novel where she annoys me. There are times where she is insecure, clumsy and/or oblivious, but I think that my dislike for these traits are cause they seem to be overused in Young Adult fiction. But I understand that this is, essentially, a 'coming of age' story. And Clary certainly grows and develops; however, the City of Bones only offers a small snippet of Clary's potential. As for Jace Wayland -- one of my favourite literary characters -- he initially appears to be the typical sarcastic, bad-mouth, devil-disguised-as-an-angel archetype. On the surface, perhaps he is, but as the book continues, Clare allows readers to learn more about Jace's past and feelings. Whilst he is portrayed as the mysterious, attractive love interest that offers readers some humour, Jace seems to be an entirely different person at the end of the novel. Lastly, the relationship between both Clary and Jace develops at a nice steady pace.

The other main characters of the City of Bones: Isabelle and Alec Lightwood, and Simon, all have their annoyances as well, but are entertaining secondary characters that readers eventually grow to love.

Overall, the only problem that I found with the City of Bones with each read was the fact that whilst this novel is action packed -- with never a dull moment or page -- I struggle to believe that all of these events happened over a one-week period. Personally, I would have found it more believable if the time frame was expanded, perhaps to encompass an entire month.

Have you read the City of Bones? If so, what did you think?

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