Elise (TheBookishActress)'s Reviews > City of Bones

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
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I was never expecting anything from this but an entertaining and maybe a little bit forgettable book. I was wrong; I found this completely unforgettable. For being a trainwreck.

To be quite honest, I think 75% of the hype for this series comes from nostalgia. Listen, I'm sorry, I know this isn't everything, but I really... don't get why these first three books are hyped, on any level. Not only do I have ten million problems with the tropey nature and the slutshaming and the etc etc etc, it's also just... boring and also, I hate every single character. I hated... almost everything about this, until book three, which I thought was okay because it didn't take me four months [you think I'm kidding?] and also for ending the incest plotline. [Yeah, that.]

Listen, I am not opposed to fun trash. I read The Infernal Devices this year and it was fantastic, and books two and three basically emotionally killed me inside. But this was not fun for me.

Okay, so first of all, because we've all talked about this, The Mortal Instruments is kind of based off Cassandra Clare’s Harry Potter fanfiction [no, I'm not kidding], and it is painfully obvious. There are basic things, like that humans are known as “mundanes,” while in Harry Potter they are known as “muggles.” But then there's also the fact that the characters kind of feel like not good fanfiction interpretations of various Harry Potter characters. Our redheaded lead character, Clary Fray, is a slightly stupider version of Ginny Weasley. Her love interest, Jace Wayland, is essentially Draco Malfoy if everyone excused his actions because he’s super hot. [I really don't like Jace.] Jace becomes a member of the Ripoff Death Eaters in like book two because his father is Ripoff Voldemort [his name is Valentine. which is actually hilarious]. Simon is... Harry [again, not a very good one], and Isabelle is Hermione, if Hermione were there exclusively to be slut-shamed by the angelic virgin protagonist.

I mostly said this to point out how utterly fucking dull these characters are, but... listen, I'm not actually wrong about this. If you match the characters up to her fanfiction [which is not hard], the pairings fit. You know that thing I linked up above? Well, it discusses how the fanfiction trilogy [I mean, kudos for that dedication] is endgame Draco/Ginny and Harry/Hermione, with subtext between Harry/Draco [I'm so sorry, I'm laughing typing this]. The endgame of this series is Jace/Clary and Simon/Isabelle, with subtext between Jace/Simon. Do. you. think. I'm. kidding.

But listen, you'd think that after ripping from fucking Harry Potter, Clare would’ve at least come up with something interesting? I mean, fiction doesn't have to be original to be good. But again, it's basically boring, boring, boring, offensive, boring, jace is hot chapter, boring.

I... don't even know where I'm going with this, I just need you all to know that this originated as Harry Potter fanfiction. Although I will point out that the original fanfiction this was based off of got taken off fanfiction.net after plagiarism accusations. And then there were Sherrilyn Kenyon's plagiarism accusations. I mean, I think fanfiction and original fiction used to be considered very different things in a way they almost aren't today, but... it's important to know.

Anyway. I've established at this point that the characters are flat, it's all painfully derivative, and the books themselves are... boring. But... there is so much more.

Beyond the issue of Clary's I'm-not-like-other-girls thing, there's also the issue of messily handled lgbtq stuff. So, yes, it's 2005, and I'm willing to excuse this... a little bit Alec Lightwood's entire presence in this book is to Create Some Angst through homophobia and it feels... so much like a plot device, not going to lie. While it's fair to mention that Cassandra Clare has improved her lgbtq rep - severalsapphic friends of mine would like to notify you that The Dark Artifices is awesome wrt this - it's not good in this series. Alec is barely a POV character in the first three books of the series, despite being marketed as a major character, and feels super tokenistic. Also, just... his treatment. At one point in this series, his mother, who is a supposedly likeable character, tries to kill him and his boyfriend for being gay, which he forgives her for [how?]. There is later on a lot of explicit biphobia towards Magnus [who is my favorite. I love Magnus] that is not subverted or criticized at all, and in this book especially, there's an intonation of that slutty bi trope [though the character is allowed to develop beyond that, man, it is there.]
“You're not gay, are you?"
Simon's greenish color deepened. "If I were, I would dress better.”

this... is... not... funny...

No, Cassandra Clare would rather focus on something else: a sideplot where Ripoff Ginny Weasley believes Hot Draco Malfoy is her brother for two fucking books. It is exactly as terrible as it sounds. For two full books, I had to live through Ripoff Ginny Weasley’s angst over her crush on her brother and about their forbidden love or whatever the shit. Yes, I KNOW (view spoiler)They almost have sex while still believing they're related [book three]. That's not even the weirdest part; they do it in Voldemort Except Boring’s home, right after they almost physically die, and it's wild. Do you know how many hours I spent trying to wash my eyes out after reading this? Why, exactly, is sex between two people who literally think they are siblings an enjoyable thing to read about? The focus on Draco Malfoy’s bare chest was bad enough; I don’t need to think about incest sex too.

Oh, and there are so many constant descriptions of Jace’s utter maleness. It honestly feels like an entire book jacking off to the thought of Draco Malfoy’s bare chest. It's not good.

I don't know. I guess not everything is bad? The worldbuilding was possibly something cool ten years ago, but it's pretty typical nowadays. I'll also give Clare a bit of credit - she's pretty great at writing dialogue. The moments where the characters are chatting or hanging out in squad dynamics are a lot of fun.

But overall... no. It's full of tropes, there aren't really any plot twists, and it's honestly just boring. I'm sorry, I really don't understand the hype. Like, come on, besides being an example of all the worst bits of YA literature, from the underdeveloped characters to the lackluster worldbuilding, this first book truly takes the cake as one of the worst I've ever read.

Oh, and I'm just going to say it: Jace and Simon have huge crushes on each other. I am NOT giving up this opinion. I don't really give a shit about either of them or care about this relationship, I'm just saying that factually, they talk about each other like they want to have wild sex. I'm ALSO saying that the ending scene of book two reads like shitty vampire smut. I'm picturing it on fanfiction.net with the description m/m blood drinking kink erotica don't like don't read!!!

VERDICT: This book is terrible. I'm somewhat shocked to say that it gets a little better later on, but this one is objectively terrible. Maybe just skip to book two if you genuinely want to read the series [listen, I like The Infernal Devices]. Or skim. Please just skim.

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Reading Progress

January 1, 2015 – Started Reading
January 1, 2015 – Finished Reading
February 28, 2016 – Shelved
October 21, 2016 – Shelved as: series-ill-never-finish
November 25, 2016 – Shelved as: genre-high-fantasy
April 9, 2017 – Shelved as: what-kind-of-plot-device-characters
April 9, 2017 – Shelved as: let-me-fight-the-protagonist
April 9, 2017 – Shelved as: narratives-on-abuse-trauma
April 9, 2017 – Shelved as: someone-burn-the-romance-with-fire
April 25, 2017 – Shelved as: how-are-you-not-murdered-every-hour
May 3, 2017 – Shelved as: hype-hype-hype
September 2, 2017 – Shelved as: genre-series-books
July 14, 2018 – Shelved as: 1-star
July 14, 2018 – Shelved as: read-2015

Comments Showing 1-50 of 115 (115 new)


chestnut THANK YOU


Kainat 《HUFFLEPUFF & PROUD》 Why are you insulting Draco by comparing him to Jace? 😭💔 He is my favorite HP character after Snape.


Elise (TheBookishActress) @teavious I hate this series so much honestly

@Kainat ha, he's never been my fave to be honest. He's just kind of... there... with some hidden depths but he's so minor that it never really affected me.

Jace is possibly worse though, if only because he's meant to be a good character. He's just everything I hate about romantic heros in YA.


Raluca Lupei I'm curious, who are the three authors suing Cassandra Clare for plagiarism?


Elise (TheBookishActress) Pamela Dean and Sherrilyn Kenyon were the two I found with a quick search. I wrote this review around a year ago and I can't find a third; it's possible I was mistaken. I'll edit that.


message 6: by may ❀ (new) - added it

may ❀ im crying this is beautiful


Chaima ✨ شيماء i've tried reading a CC book countless times and it was failure in every single one of them


message 8: by Megan (new) - added it

Megan OH MY GOD THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I'm in the process of editing a wrap-up where I talk about her story in Summer Days and Nights and I'm actually considering cutting it bc I don't want people to hate me already for disliking CC's writing and personality on the internet.


Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ lol I'm laughing so hard Elise wonderful review! I must ask tho, if this sucks so much ass why 2 stars instead of 1? Lol


message 10: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Kainat Ijaz wrote: "Why are you insulting Draco by comparing him to Jace? 😭💔 He is my favorite HP character after Snape."

Snape ????????? The man who bullied a child because he reminded him his ennemy ??


Amanda Setasha Hall While I respect your opinion, I just wanted to point out some things about the lawsuits and other stuff.

CC is being sued over the term "Shadowhunter" by an author that has trade marked the turn "Dark-Hunter" and that author is also suing over characters being similar to hers. CC books came out before the other authors books, which is kind of funny. A judge ruled in February that there is no proof of copyright infringement to continue the lawsuit. The lawsuit didn't come about until the TV show was announced. Which is funny because CC isn't the one that used the term "Shadowhunters" for the title anyways.

Also - I know you complained about the way it was written saying "the wording is so 10 years ago." Why yes. Yes it is. The first book is officially 10 years old actually. Thanks for noticing. xD

Again, I respect your opinion and understand where you're coming from, I just wanted to point out the above. ^^


message 12: by Lucie (last edited Sep 03, 2017 04:27AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lucie I agree this series isn't exactly amazing - the writing is weak and the characters are paper-thin. I was personally reasonably entertained, possibly because I read the 'Infernal Devices' trilogy first, which is a lot better. I can't see the similarity to HP at all though, it's an insult to the Rowling! There are myriad terms used for 'non magic folk' in the various fantasy novels out there, muggles, mundanes, norms, normals, saps, laymen... you can hardly call the idea of having magical vs. non magical beings plagiarism. The plot and characters seem totally different, JK Rowling's characters are much better developed. Draco is a shady, complex character whereas Jace is essentially your stalwart but conflicted hero-type and exhibits the standard associated unrealistic behaviour. But Hermione-Isobel? Simon-Ron?! No no no I can't see it at all.


Stephanie L (catteabooks) ^^Possibly every single reason I agreed with while reading the first book years ago, except I wasn't balls enough to say anything about it. I've never picked up a Cassandra Clare book since, and after reading your review, I will probably extend that to a million years after I die haha. I absolutely love your honesty <3


amy ☂︎ I LOVE YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS. 10/10 BEST REVIEW I'VE EVER READ


message 15: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) Amanda Setasha wrote: "While I respect your opinion, I just wanted to point out some things about the lawsuits and other stuff.

CC is being sued over the term "Shadowhunter" by an author that has trade marked the turn "..."


CC was sued over a whole lot more than the term. http://www.courtneymilan.com/cc-compl... has some in-depth comparisons and they are BLATANT.

I know the books are ten years old, it says so in my review. I'm aware the books came out ten years ago and were something somewhat new at the time. What I'm saying is nowadays they don't stand out.


message 16: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Mayflower: thank you I had so much fun writing this last year and then I was too scared to post it

@em Do Not

@Megan good luck!! some people in her fanbase are... not great

@Mary thanks!! I'm honestly not sure. I never rate books one star unless I thought they were incredibly problematic, but come to think of it this series is problematic?? maybe I just feel too bad about it

@sarah same though


message 17: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Alicia thank you!! I don't even think I realized how much I hate this series until I wrote this

@Lucie: this series was actually apparently based off her harry potter fanfiction. Seriously, some of the scenes come out of her fanfiction. I totally agree about how little they're developed. I've heard somewhat good things about TID but I hated this series (yes, I read all three books of the first series) so much I can't be bothered

@Stephanie thanks so much!!

@Amy I FEEL SO VALIDATED BY NOT BEING ALONE


message 18: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Hepburn brutal


message 19: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) @heidi lmao I missed this but yeah kinda


Elizabeth ♛Smart Girls Love Trashy Books♛ How did I miss this hilarious yet savage review? XD


message 21: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Elizabeth this is one of my fav reviews I've written I love dragging this book


prag ♻ listen here, elly . . .


message 23: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) I do what I want and you need to check your WhatsApp


message 24: by Sara (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sara I couldn't even make it all the way to the end of this because it was so bad. Thank God there are other likeminded people out there who share the same opinion about this!


message 25: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) Sara wrote: "I couldn't even make it all the way to the end of this because it was so bad. Thank God there are other likeminded people out there who share the same opinion about this!"

SAME. I am just so annoyed by this book


Treena (wellreadmisty) I agree with the nostalgia thing. I reread it this year when I started watching the TV series and I barely finished reading it! Now I can't get myself to reread the next book. However I didn't strongly feel the similarities to Harry Potter except for the "mundane" term and that there's a magical world within the real world. I loved this series dearly before, but now not as much. It's true that it got boring. It was years ago when I first read it and I was a lot younger and haven't read much fantasy. Maybe that's why the story and world appealed so much to me back then. 3


message 27: by Lucie (last edited Sep 03, 2017 06:18AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lucie @Elise fair play - that must have been some lousy fan fiction for all that its characters resemble HP's! And I don't blame you for giving up on CC- I remember the first book was so bad that I only just managed to persevere because I had enjoyed TID.


message 28: by Kami (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kami I actually didn't even notice a lot of things you pointed out in this review, like the whole Isabelle being slut-shamed by Clary because I did like Isabelle as her own character. But then again, I read the series when I was like...13? So my memory on these books are kind of muddled, especially since delving more into the YA fantasy genre in particular. I agree with you in that this series survives because of the nostalgia surrounding it, and of it were published today, I'm not sure if it would so as well as it had back then. I'm kind of starting to not like most of CC's books anymore (except maybe TID) and I'm not sure if it's because of age or because they're all so similar to each other now, in terms of types of characters and plot.


Mizuki I'm just going to say it: Jace and Simon have huge crushes on each other. I am NOT giving up this opinion.

That would have made the whole story a lot better, Amen.


message 30: by Selena (new) - added it

Selena Thank you for honest review. I purchased this book and it is on my to reads. I'll let you know what I thought when I read it.


message 31: by A.J. (new) - rated it 3 stars

A.J. I read the first three in this series (there are more, right? I vaguely remember thinking it was a trilogy and slogging through the last one just to be done only to find out there would be more coming out and promptly rage quit the rest of my weekend) while I was overseas on business and more or less jet lagged. Nostalgia is absolutely why I enjoyed it. I didn't catch the HP parallels, maybe because I kept thinking it was a Buffy rip-off. I see it after your review. And I remember being engaged enough to buy three ebooks in the series. But a couple years later when I went to reread I got stuck a few chapters in wondering how the crap I ate it up the first time out. I just can't do it. Your review sums up why brilliantly.


message 32: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Treena yeah, the worldbuilding and characters were a lot more revolutionary ten years ago. I feel like nowadays, it's just not the same.

Maybe I should clarify in my review that the HP connections aren't me reaching - this is literally based off her fanfiction. She wrote both Ginny/Draco and Ginny/Ron (uck) in her final few works, and there's a post somewhere (I'll try and find the link) mentioning parallels between that fanfiction and her books.


message 33: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Kami I get that :( from what I've heard (and seen in this trilogy) she did improve over time. Given the fact that I actually kind of enjoyed book three, I'm definitely willing to believe that TID was better.


message 34: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) (oh, and surprisingly, I like Isabelle too 😄 I'm just sad she's mostly there for slutshaming.)


message 35: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Selena good luck!! I'm an unpopular opinion, don't worry

@AJS thank you so much!! I think a lot of people I've talked to have that experience. And honestly, you can count the first trilogy as the full series - it's what I did 😄


message 36: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Mizuki exactly. also I'm thinking about this and with Clare's thing about PAIRING EVERY CHARACTER UP, Clary and Izzy would then get together which is honestly? a concept I had not considered but I like it

(there would be so much enemies to lovers I'm here for it)


message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

i LIVE for unpopular opinion reviews and this one kills it! i'd never planned to read this series but honestly your review just made me not want to even more. plus this has one of my biggest bookish pet peeves which is when EVERY. SINGLE. CHARACTER. needs to be paired with someone.


message 38: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa I know why I completely skipped TMI and went to read TID right away... (and then I read the last TMI book, because of reasons and those characters are honestly terrible with only a few exceptions). I feel like I missed nothing and was able to get into TDA as well without a problem. *shrugs*


message 39: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Vanessa ooooh maybe I should do that!! I have no interest in books 4-6 honestly


message 40: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Syd OH MY GOD I HATE THAT. It's so annoying bc 90% of the pairings are just so irrelevant


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

@Elise IKR it's the fucking worst. it's why I hate the epilogue of HP so much.


Briar's Reviews I won't lie, when i kinda agree with this review... I do enjoy the series as something to read that doesn't bore me, but when I look back on the book with everything you say in mind.... Yeah. You're right XD


message 43: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Briar that's nice to hear!! And of course it's great that you enjoyed the series - I frankly found books one and two fairly boring :/


message 44: by TS (new) - rated it 5 stars

TS I'm seriously wondering if this is how I'll feel if I ever chose to reread it after not having read it since like 2008


message 45: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) @TS it's possible, or you might already be so invested in these characters that it won't matter. good luck if you do reread!!


Carmen Allegra I love this review! I am trying so hard to finish City of Lost Souls and it's a struggle. I don't want to DNF it because I want to try to finish it, but it's killlllinggggg me. So boring!


message 47: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Oh wow I never knew about the rip off of Harry Potter, so that's another reason to add to the list. I'd heard mixed things about this anyway, but my main reason for not wanting to read is that there now are so MANY books I don't want to commit to something that long. I know they're all a bit different, but the author is planning more books set in this world and I honestly think she might have drained everything out possible by the sounds of them. So thanks for this review, you've just saved me time and money/ :)


message 48: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (TheBookishActress) @Carmen D 👏 N 👏 F I almost wished I'd just ditched this series after book one

@Kelly I've actually heard her most recent stuff is a lot better!! so maybe she's genuinely improving 👌 but yeah I get that, there are way too many


Treena (wellreadmisty) @Elise honestly i didnt even know it was a fanfiction because i was ignorant back then about any book community lol and didnt know fanfictions exist. So i was so unaware about the controversies surrounding this series but then when i read people's reviews about how close to HP the whole thing is, that when i see it. It's just that at the time I read it, it was barely there for me. So I really liked this review of yours!


Michelle This review is totally the truth! I read about 5 books of the TMI and I totally think it's complete trash. Incest, slut-shaming, and homophobic is just some of the stuff that was terrible about it. I was told the books do get better by the second book but it honestly didn't. It was the same thing all the time and by the sixth book I was just FINISHED.


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