Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Title: City of Bones
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
First Published: March 2005
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Library
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, A to Z Challenge, Support your Local Library Reading Challenge
485 pages




On the flap
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. Clary knows she should call the police, but it's hard to explain a murder when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary.

Equally startled by her ability to see them, the murderers explain themselves as Shadowhunters: a secret tribe of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. Within twenty-four hours, Clary's mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque 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....


I wrote and rewrote this review about 4 times before finally being happy with this. (Whoever said writing reviews was an easy job?) I was struggling because there was very little to review, without giving too much away!

I had been pining for a good paranormal book for quite some time, ever since reading the Twilight series last year. But I was mostly hesitant to read any of the interesting books I came across, simply because many of them sounded so similar, that I couldn't feel compelled into reading them. Besides the zillion challenges I was participating in made sure I picked mainly adults-oriented books, so I'm slowly trying to invite more paranormal and YA activity into my bookshelves! I finally chose to read the Mortal Instruments series, after two of my book clubs in Goodreads voted for City of Bones as the group read. What stronger wake-up call did I need?

My opinion
City of Bones starts out pretty well. When I read the synopsis, I wasn't pleased. Bodies disappearing? Invisible men? Puhleez. But the book starts out better than the way the synopsis was put. The fact that only Clary could see the 3 people who just killed a green-eyed, electric-blue-haired boy in her presence, got me hooked enough to wonder what species the book is dealing with.

Apparently, it is species in the plural. Suddenly Clary's human world and the other invisible world merge, and a lot of questions start emerging. Now you see what I mean by finding this a difficult book to review? I'd rather not spoil any surprises for you if you plan to read this.

There are a lot of paranormal creatures in this book that I remember feeling initially overwhelmed trying to keep track of who was good and who wasn't. I couldn't blame Clary either for feeling confused. There are vampires, werewolves, faeries, warlocks, demons, angels, and the ruler of all - the shadowhunters. And of course, we poor mundanes (Did that remind you of muggles? That's the first word that came to my mind.)

The twists in the book were pretty riveting. This one is a meaty 485 pages, full of twists and turns. Much as they were engrossing, I felt that tool to be over-used. There were many times when a character was about to tell a spicy teaser, only to be interrupted by someone else and I had to turn page after page to find out what that juicy piece of news is. And by many, I mean almost every other page. A tad overused.

Just when I was cozying up to the romance in the book, there's a really disgusting revelation made. I couldn't see a point to taking the story in "both" directions, the romance and the non-romance direction, since both the elements combined to make me feel very disturbed. I would have branded this courageous writing, because it's not a situation anyone would like to be in, but I wouldn't since it didn't leave me with any kind of achievement or satisfaction, rather with a confused disarray of feelings.

Although I enjoyed this book a lot, I wish most of its themes were original. Instead, I felt a lot of the book's world to be borrowed. The "mundanes", the stele, the 3 mortal instruments, a central villain who wants to raise an army of the most feared and dangerous creatures and cleanse the world of all beneath him. In the end, I felt as if most of the detailed descriptions of the creatures were forced to fit into the story rather than the other way around.

Overall, this is a gripping read if you love suspense, plus has a high paranormal activity to keep you entertained. (I am guilty of neglecting my work when I started reading this). But I wasn't so impressed by the writing, which I felt quite lame both in the many similes used in the book, as well as in the dialogues.

Title Demystified
This one can be a lengthy discussion, since very few are sure of what the titles really mean. City of Bones refers to the Silent City, protected by the ashes of the slain Shadowhunters, ruled by the Silent Brothers. The Silent Brothers are librarians / archivists -cum-shadowhunters, who mutilate their bodies in order to strengthen their minds. ::shudder::

Cover Art Demystified
That's a blond-haired shadowhunter on the cover, Jace, according to The Mortal Instruments website. I liked how the symbols (runes) on his body are shown. For those who haven't read this book, the runes are used for different purposes, like healing, protection, bravery, etc. Using a particular rune helped achieve its specific purpose. While I found this concept interesting, I couldn't help wonder how much time would be spent on drawing runes when you have to set out on an emergency mission!

What did you think?
Have you read this book? I'd like to know what you thought about it. Please leave your review link in the comments, or a brief opinion, if you hadn't reviewed it.

Did you like it or you didn't? If you didn't, at what point did the book turn you off.

4 comments:

Aye.Me? said...

I really enjoyed reading your review! It's a shame that you didn't love this book because its definitely one of my favourite series. I recommend that you read the rest of the series though... City Of Glass is awesome. :)

dArLyN said...

i thought everyone loves this book because it seems when i read reveiws from others, they keep saying that how awesome this book..your review really intriguing.i have this book on my shelf but save it after i've collected another 2 of it.wait till i read it =p

happy reading!

bermudaonion said...

I'm not into the paranormal stuff, so I'll probably skip this one. Glad you enjoyed it, though.

Aths said...

Aye.Me? I agree it's a shame I didn't love this since I really wanted to. But at least I enjoyed it, which is rare for books I find fault with. ;-) I finished City of Ashes, 2 days back, and have placed a hold on City of Glass!!

dArLyN, I would say this series is engrossing. I did enjoy it, but it's not great, I couldn't connect as well as I wished, it felt like a hurried job to me.

Kathy, how do you resist all the paranormal influences from other blogs and readers? ;-)