City of Bones by Cassandra Clare | Book Review
Release date: March 27, 2007
Series: The Mortal Instruments (Book #1)
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
I know, I'm about six years late on the bandwagon, but I finally got to The Mortal Instruments series. I was growing tired of reading all of those first-person YA dystopian books and was looking for a temporary change in genre. When I saw the trailer for the upcoming movie, I remembered having interest in the series and I knew I had my next book pick. Though I've read some polar opposite opinions about the series as a whole, I decided to trust my love for urban fantasy and dive into the City of Bones.
Clary is a teenage girl, who goes to a club with her friend and finds herself witnessing a murder. Before she is can call for help, the dead body vanishes and she realizes that she is the only one able to see the killers. Turns out this is her first encounter with Shadowhunters - warriors with the sole mission of killing demons in order to keep humans safe. Could it be that all of the supernatural beings are real? Why is she able to see what no other "mundane" can? If that's not life changing enough, Clary is about to face some family complications, that could force her into the world of Shadowhunters and everything that it brings.
I would have loved this book if I read it back when it came out in 2007. I still enjoyed it greatly, but reading about 15-17-year-olds is getting a bit odd for me. Where are all the good books about people in their 20s? Back to City of Bones, this book had a strange effect on me: the further I got into it the more flaws I discovered, but I still couldn't get enough of it. I guess I was so happy to be reading urban fantasy again, I was willing to overlook some shortcomings.
Let me talk about the good first. I thought the way the supernatural world was presented worked really well. There are a lot of different creatures and beings involved, but Cassandra Clare doesn't just slam you with lore. Instead, it's gradually introduced in a way that doesn't overwhelm the reader and there is definitely more to come. I also was very happy that the story didn't turn into a typical paranormal romance, where everything revolves around the pair (or triangle) and their struggle to overcome obstacles to their true love. Yes, there is some romance involved, but it's not the point or ultimate goal. I enjoyed the "action scenes", for the lack of a better way to describe them, - those were the parts of City of Bones where I really couldn't put it down. There is a pretty good balance between brooding and engaging encounters.
Despite all of that excitement, none of the plot "twists" were actually unexpected. It's one thing when I read a book and a few pages before a shocking event I think "is that where we're going with it?" It's a completely different thing when I call the plot chapters before it unfolds. I also didn't really learn anything new or find anything notably original here, which is surprising, considering all of the opportunities within the fantasy genre. Finally, the romance got really weird at one point (you know what I mean, if you've read the book) and I'm not ok with it. That's all I will say about it to avoid spoilers. I reckon this will be resolved later on, but in the meantime it's rather disturbing.
Personally, I'm addicted to the series regardless of the flaws. I guess this is what Twilight series were to other people - something I never understood until now. It's not the greatest book ever written, but I can't help wanting more. City of Bones is a love it or hate it kind of book: you will either go along with the story and enjoy the ride, or get really frustrated with its flaws. I think urban fantasy and YA readers should definitely give it a shot and judge for themselves. Now excuse me while I devour City of Ashes.