17 December 2012

Book Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Title: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Author(s): Cassandra Clare
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Publisher/Date: Margaret K. McElderry Books / March 27,  2007
Series: The Mortal Instruments (Book 1)
"She sighed. 'Seeing through the glamour is easy. It's the people that are hard.' 'We all see what we want to see,' he said quietly."

Case Study
Somebody dial 'M' for murder! We all know New York is a hot bed for crime but Clary Fray hardly expects to witness the bold execution of a young boy at the local night club. And that's the least of her worries because not only is she the sole witness to the crime, but the body of the victim disappears! Upon confronting the three strange assassins, she unknowingly stumbles into a waging war between demons and the elite Shadowhunters. And Clary gets more than she bargained for when she's attacked by a hideous monster and her mother mysteriously goes missing. Jace and the Shadowhunters take her into the supernatural world that's lurking just behind the glamour of the real one, a place that for her, feels more like home. But none of them can predict the fateful role that Clary will play to undeniably change the outcome of this war for them all.

The Game's Afoot
Okay, so I realize I'm a little late to the game on this book but since I'm fairly new to the YA genre I'm giving myself a free pass. Plus, the way I see it, my review is so much more relevant now thanks to its upcoming theatrical release, so I've got that going for me. I really didn't think much about The Mortal Instruments series, despite all of its accolades, until I saw the movie trailer. Wow. Demons? Bad ass hot guys? A supernatural realm hidden within ours? Bad ass hot guys? Just... wow. There is sooooo much potential! So naturally, I did what any self-respecting, mature adult would do---I immediately went out and bought the book and squealed like a hormone-addled teen. Yes, folks. I've learned that Ms. Cassandra Clare has the ability to render me into a giggly, wide-eyed mess. For the most part, the book lives up to its praise.

I think the thing that really grabbed me with City of Bones was its rich world-building. I love the idea of a darker, separate realm hidden beneath the everyday mundane one that we all see. Clare didn't go overboard with  superfluous details and nonsensical explanations. The supernatural universe was woven deeply into our own in a very natural way, making the suspension of belief quite easy. She also touched on a little bit of everything--- demons, vampires, angels and werewolves, which I thought was really entertaining. I also really appreciated the complexity of the main characters. Each one of them was bold and strong yet still vulnerable in their own way and it's that vulnerability that makes you want to delve deeper. We really only scratch the surface in this book, especially with regard to Clary and Jace. I can't wait to learn more about them as the series continues. And there's another thing. At the risk of somewhat spoiling something, the italicized portion is meant for those of you who've already read the book:

Can we PLEASE just talk a minute about that WTF-induced Clary/Jace revelation!? Seriously!? Did Clare really just go there!? Sick, man! Totally sick! Personally, the Simon enthusiast in me was kind of secretly doing a happy dance and simultaneously laughing maniacally at that part because Clary really needs to be with a nice guy. I mean, really. Poor, poor under-appreciated Simon. What's YA's beef with the nice guys anyway? I suppose that's a topic for another day.

Okay, bookish rant over. Anyway, another reason to check this book out--- the previously italicized twist and  holy-mother-of-god action filled ending. So unexpectedly good! But despite how much I thoroughly enjoyed City of Bones, it did have its share of faults. For one, the pacing was all over the place. Much of the action occurs throughout the beginning and at the end. Honestly, there were several scenes in the middle that felt like they were thrown in there for the sake of having something happen. They didn't quite jive with flow of the rest of the book. And another thing that really got me was that it was a YA book that, at times, felt very YA. Sometimes Clare sucked me in and sometimes it was a little too teenage angsty for my liking. Regardless, I was engaged enough to want to continue on with the series and will definitely be waiting in line for the movie on opening night.

Summary Prognosis
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is an incredibly imaginative story with enigmatic characters and rich atmosphere. I guess my only reservations with this one are the uneven pacing and somewhat youthful writing style. It's clearly evident who the target audience should be (teens), enjoyable as it was. I do look forward to catching the movie adaptation with hopes that it'll be a bit more edgy than its bookish counterpart. 

Rating:  ★★★½

Read It: Amazon Barnes & Noble | Audible
Discuss It: Goodreads | Author's Website


  1. I don't think I'll ever be able to bring myself to read a Cassandra Clare book - my prejudices obviously run far too deep! But I'd be up for the movie (plus, movies take less time investment than a book!).

    On the positive side, if it's a book that teens would enjoy, that's awesome - sometimes it feels like YA books are targeted far too much at the adult market!

    1. I know what you mean, Kat. I wanted to love it more than I actually did and I think it's because it was just a bit too young. But c'est la vie! I'm definitely going to try giving book #2 a go but if it doesn't get any better, I'm not sure I'll invest the time in the rest of the series. I do have a feeling the movie incarnation will exceed the book for me, though! So yeah, excited about that!

  2. I have been on the fence about reading this series for a really long time. The premise sounds really interesting, but I don't know if I want to dedicate myself to reading a new series, and I've read a lot of mixed reviews. As heretical it might be to say this as a book lover, I might watch the movie first and then decide.

    1. I'll be honest with you, I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy the movie more than book (gasp!) which is a rarity for me. Though it was certainly entertaining, there are 6 books in all and I have to be super-wow'd to commit to all that. I'll definitely try for book #2 and see if it gets any better. There were just times where it felt a little too YA for my liking. Let me know what you think of the movie though!

  3. There's something about this book - I like it and loathe it at the same time. I love the action and the fight scenes, the pacing at the time is executed brilliantly, and (as you say) the supernatural world hiding so well behind our own.

    But then there are just silly things that make me stop reading and go WTH? There's the writing - ALL THE SIMILES! (I read "The Clockwork Prince" and there was a DOUBLE metaphor - a metaphor to the metaphor already describing someone's eyes! I literally had to stop and roll my eyes. Gah.) And then, just the ridiculous things the characters do - like at the beginning when Clary witness what she supposes is a murder and yet she decides to check out the attackers on her own? Simon does the sensible thing to go look for security. There was no valid reason for Clary to go in there at all. Also the snarky humor (which I personally love) but EVERYONE seems to possess it, so that's kind of a hindrance to distinguishing their personalities a little bit.

    Haha, and I know what you mean about the Clary/Jace thing. Say whaaaat? I remember how flabbergasted I was when I first read it. It's just - ngh. And I totally love Simon, too! And have you seen who's playing him in the film? Much hotter than Jace, in my opinion :P Tha eeyyyeess, so puuurrrttyyy.

    I have to say, though, I really liked Magnus Bane ;) Clare kinda redeems herself with him. Kinda.

    Also, this is totally aesthetic but why is it that Jace is on the cover of book #1 instead of Clary? Isn't she the main protagonist? I would expect her to be on the first one. Plus that dude on the cover's hot and all but he does not look like the teenager that Jace is supposed to be.

    Ok, overly long comment. I'll show myself out.

    1. You totally iterated all of my feelings about this book just now! It was definitely a love/hate relationship, for sure. And OMG, Simon lovers unite! Seriously, Jace (in the movie) has such a square jaw. It's quite bothersome to me, actually.

      Good point about the cover! I never really thought about that before. Please don't go. I think you are my bookish soulmate right now... ;)

  4. That twist made me so mad! I wonder if they'll keep it in the movie. It's not cool.

    1. I was really thrown off by that one, honestly, and it made me a little uncomfortable. (Although, I won't lie that it ups Simon's chances so that's a benefit for me). It'll be interesting to see if they do decide to add that one in to the movie version, for sure.

  5. I feel the same way about Simon. He is the "real life" good choice. But then again this is NOT real life. I was complaining to my sister and mom about the twincest (as you know, we feel VERY STRONGLY ABOUT saying no to twincest at YAF and WS) and mom, who is wonderful and will read anything we tell her to read went and got this. And then was like, "well, its a bit like Star Wars and Leia and Luke, no?" Somehow that made me feel better....but I still have not finished this series...

    1. You're absolutely right, I never thought of it that way (and I did enjoy me some Star Wars). But it still is disturbing. I was really hoping that Clare would do a big ol' JK on us, but alas, she didn't. Five other books is a lot to commit to, so I might have to keep this series on the back burner for a rainy day. I'm just not totally convinced yet.


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