Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > City of Bones

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
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's review
May 05, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: urban-fantasy, ya, 2008
Read in August, 2008

Clary Fray is a regular fifteen year old, living with her mum, Jocelyn, an artist, in Brooklyn. Her father, she has been told, died before she was born. One night at an underage club with her best friend Simon, she witnesses something no one else can see: three teenagers kill what looks like a boy, but is really a demon. She shouldn't have been able to see anything - she's a "mundane", and doesn't have the Sight. Or does she? Has her mother been lying to her about who she really is? When her mother disappears and Clary is attacked by a demonic creature, the three kids - Jace, Isablle and Alec - are the only ones who can help her find her mum and explain this new, frightening underworld to her.

Comparisons to Harry Potter are unavoidable, mostly because of the author's background in writing HP fanfiction. I don't care about any of that, or any controversy surrounding said fanfic. I read and review books based on their own merit, as often as possible. You do get "mundanes" instead of "muggles", and the evil Valentine instead of Lord Voldemort, but there aren't many more similarities than that, and those are pretty superficial.

The "mortal instruments" are three artefacts with magical properties, including a cup that turns humans (mundanes) into Nephilim: Shadowhunters, those with the Sight who fight and kill demons who come from other dimensions. The cup has been missing for fifteen years, and Valentine wants to get his hands on it because with it he can create an army and kill not just demons but "downworlders" - the fairies and elves and ifrits etc.

It's not a powerful story, though there are some telling comments and descriptions about the Shadowhunters, especially Valentine and his "Circle", touch on racism and superiority issues - that cleansing thing that was also a theme in Harry Potter - but it is a good story, fast-paced, full of adventure and a couple of twists - one of which was predictable, though the reasons for it weren't so obvious.

The characters could have done with more depth and development - Clare has fleshed them out well enough, but then they became static. Hopefully in the following books they'll grow some and move away from stock character traits. Clary's a solid protagonist, with a firm head on her shoulders, but Jace was a bit two-dimensional and Isabelle and Alec weren't really explored at all.

The pacing is cracking and rarely lets up - we're flung from one predicament into another, facing off vampires, gay warlocks and traitors. It's a lot of fun, but the character development suffers for it. It's not bad, it just could have been better. I loved Magnus Bane, he was a real character, but that just proves my point.

As for plot, there was one glaring plothole that I noticed - I can't give the details without spoiling it, but if you're reading it or have read it, check page 375 - did she ever give Jace his stele back? Yes she did, on page 358. But look, here it is in her pocket just when she needs it! It was a bit glaring, and I'm surprised her pre-publishing readers, and her editor, didn't spot it - it could've been easily fixed.

Despite what looks like a lot of criticism, this is an enjoyable fantasy story with engaging characters, and I definitely want to read the next one.
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04/08/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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Shannon (Giraffe Days) I decided to get it now because the second book is out and sounds really interesting. From the sounds of the premise, it's quite original urban fantasy.

Friends on my blog have said that the author was a popular writer of Harry Potter fanfic but was accused of plagiarism (of other fanfic writers maybe?) - I detest fanfiction, to be honest, and I'm going to try to forget I heard about the fuss (fanfic people tend to take things very personally eh?) so it doesn't spoil this book for me. I hate it when books come with baggage, don't you?

Shannon (Giraffe Days) Sorry!! Nothing worse than bad fanfic flashbacks!

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Was she one of those people who write not just fanfiction... but the weird fanfiction?

Like furry transgender hardcore porn Harry Potter fanfiction?

Because it's out there. And I had the unfortunate experience of seeing an illustration from one of them.


Shannon (Giraffe Days) I believe she wrote a spin-off series about Draco Malfoy, but I haven't heard that she wrote porn HP or anything. I think the controversy was around accusations of plagiarism from other fanfic writers or something.

I avoid fan fic. My one concession is a user pic I use sometimes on LiveJournal, where Harry says to Lupin: "You're a werewolf?"
Lupin: "Yes."
Harry: "Are you fucking serious?"
Lupin: "Yes, that too."
Harry: "What?"
Lupin: "Oops. Too much information."

It cracks me up every time, silly as it is :)

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

haha gross! That's not funny!



Shannon (Giraffe Days) You laughed!! Gotcha! We can't help ourselves, infantile as it may be ;)

message 7: by Becky (new)

Becky This made me crack up at my desk at work! LOL

I can just imagine Harry's look... confused, then slowly dawning horror!

SheWunders I completely agree with your review. I read City of Bones & City of Ashes - both are entertaining reads. I really liked them. I'm even looking forward to the new book City of Glass in March.

Shannon (Giraffe Days) Glad I could give you a laugh Becky! (And that pretty much sums up his expression, yes!)

I think I'm going to wait for City of Ashes to come out in paperback, E - I'm not a big fan of hardcovers, and they're a bit pricey. Sometimes waiting is good if they do a lot of catch-up in the beginning, otherwise it can get annoying! Does Clare do that in the second book?

SheWunders I don't remember a lot of catch up in the beginning of City of Ashes. I read them back to back, so I would have been annoyed by it (and probably remembered, but it has been a while). :o)

Shannon (Giraffe Days) Good to know, thanks E. :)

Amber Rose i absolutely loooooved this series i <3 jace lol love his sarcasm probly my fave things in the book r the memorable quotes. :]

Shannon (Giraffe Days) I'll keep a closer eye on his sarcasm in the next book Amber :D It's been a while since I read this and I can't remember it!

Linda I liked your review, and I <3 city of bones!! But about the stele, it was Isabelle who gave Jace her stele not Clary on page 358.

Melissa I'm going to be reading this for bookclub. I enjoyed your review of it (as always)

Justin I'm shocked you haven't read the second one yet. I was going to say that I really want to blow through all of these as fast as I can with this series.

So far I'm a little meh on the way something in particular has been handled.

message 17: by Mary S. (new)

Mary S. Sentoza I really liked your review. I read the book and quite enjoyed it.

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