Rachel's Reviews > City of Bones

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
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's review
Sep 11, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: young-adult-child, fantasy, biblical, heroine, latin, library, mythology, norse, read-2010, series, supernatural, thriller, vampires, werewolves, female-author, female-author-heroine, first-in-series
Recommended for: people who don't require originality
Read from September 09 to 11, 2010 , read count: 1

I admit that I found this book to be entertaining enough that I wanted to finish it, and that--unfortunately--it's is definitely not the worst book I've read (although that's because I just read a truly awful book that was TERRIBLY written). I will also admit that there were items and ideas of definite interest in it. However, I cannot honestly say that it was at all good or that gave me any sort of satisfaction.

The writing in this book was not the best, but it wasn't the worst, and it wasn't the Dan Brown type of overly-simplistic prose--there was a style, it just wasn't particularly impressive. There were some typos and some misused words, but not so many that it made me angry. The world the author created was interesting, visually and in terms of the mythology, the history, and the way things were done, and in some ways it was well thought out. Unfortunately the workings of it and the magic in it it were unstructured and didn't seem to follow real rules. The teenage characters were, well, teenagers. They didn't have much depth and didn't behave very consistently, but they weren't too offensive, and their characterizations by the author weren't too bad. There were plenty of plot twists and huge reveals, but sadly there was not a single one that I didn't see coming from several hundred miles away. Usually I don't mind figuring something out before the characters, but this was too much. The dialogue was mostly interesting to read, although cliched, but was at times unnatural--sometimes I really felt like the author had set up a whole scene just to have a place for a line she thought up and wanted to use. Or a line she had heard somewhere else...in fact, the most problematic issue for me was how much of this story came from other stories; how much of it I recognized.

Clary Fray, a fifteen year old girl, discovers that she is not the mundane girl she'd always thought herself to be: she is a nephilim, has special abilities, and is part of a world with magic and creatures she never before knew existed, because her mother refused to acknowledge any existence of the supernatural. It turns out that within that world had been a dangerous group of people with the goal of trying to keep the world pure by wiping out all the Downworlders, the leader of whom was supposedly killed when Clary a baby, and her heritage was hidden from her for her protection. Unfortunately, it seems like Lord Valentine is back in the picture, and it's up to Clary and her new companions, other nephilim being trained to become Shadowhunters at the Institute (which is disguised from the sight of "mundanes"), to prevent him from getting what he needs to regain his power and complete his genocidal goal.

Hmmm, that sounds kind of familiar...a bit like Harry Potter. Wait, actually, it sounds exactly like Harry Potter. And amazingly, the similarities to Harry Potter don't end there: throw in a red-haired mother who sacrifices to protect her child, a flying motorcycle, a teacher who knew the protagonist's parents and their friends and a lot about "The Circle," parents turn out to have been with the bad guy but got off easy after his downfall, a conveyance that recklessly travels city streets--even driving right up and over cars--yet is bizarrely unnoticed, and a number of other things that are way to specifically spoilery to mention here. This basically IS Harry Potter, with a change of setting.

That's not to say that there aren't similarities in themes, ideas, characters, dialogue, and plot points to plenty of other books, movies, tv shows, et cetera. There are, and they are numerous and obvious. But the similarities to Harry Potter are too huge to go uncomplained about. It was ridiculous. I guess this shouldn't be too much of a surprise, since the author was a well known Harry Potter fan fiction writer before being published. I should admit that, having known that before reading this book, it's possible that I was actively looking for similarities to Harry Potter, but that doesn't change the fact that I found them--in, as you can see, spades.
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Reading Progress

09/09/2010 page 3
1.0% "It was at the library so I figured I'd try it."
09/10/2010 page 217
45.0% "More & more like Harry Potter (quelle surprise): teen discovers a special heritage & abilities previously unbelieved in, group of racist bad guys from the past generation with a purity obsession whose leader was supposedly killed when protagonist was a baby but is back now, car that travels city streets bizarrely & unseen, things that you can't see unless you know they're there, & now flying motorcycles."
09/11/2010 page 485
100.0% "All done."

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