Title: City of Bones
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Completed: 14th June 2017
Goodreads rating: 4 stars
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. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a 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 have to say, I’ve never really been all that interested in The Mortal Instruments, or any of the Shadowhunter books. They just never really appealed to me. I’m not really a fan of the whole paranormal thing (particularly vampires and werewolves). However, after watching literally dozens of Booktube videos with people gushing about how much they loved them I gave in. Honestly, I was expecting to be disappointed. The Shadowhunters series is on Netflix, so the other night I watched the first episode. I was then hooked. I thought about City of Bones for three whole days. Then, I found the PDF of City of Bones online at 5pm Wednesday evening, and finished it at 10pm on Wednesday night. I then found City of Ashes, and proceeded to stay up WAY too late Thursday night reading it. I’ll hopefully (probably) finish it tonight!
Now, I originally wrote my classic rambling style of review, but then read over it and found it made literally no sense. So I’ve gone for a classic What I Like vs What I Didn’t Like list format. Let me know which style you prefer!
What I Didn’t Like
- The timeline. Honestly, I didn’t really notice this until the very end, but there’s A LOT of action that happens over a few days. Which didn’t impact my reading experience at all, but it did feel a little bit intense once I reached the end. A longer time frame might have been ok, and given the plot a bit of breathing room.
- Info-dumping. There is A LOT of worldbuilding in City of Bones. Which is great, but sometimes I felt like the information was just thrown at me in explanatory dialogue, rather than more subtly weaved into the story. Seeing as this is Cassandra’s first novel, I can forgive it slightly, but it did stick out to me a few times. The plot has some pretty significant backstory, so I get why Cassandra needed to have so much exposition, but in this case I feel like a good prologue might have done a less clunky job.
- The ages. Now, this (along with the tropes thing below) is just me being picky. City of Bones is YA, and characters in YA novels are teenagers (usually 15/16). That’s the point. So I get it. It’s not really a criticism. I just think that now, as a twenty-something, I prefer the characters at the age they are in the TV series (late teens/early twenties). Again, this is purely a personal thing, and I know pulling up YA for having YA characters is absurd. I just would have liked it if they were older. Am I growing out of YA? Is this the beginning of them end? *shrugs*
- The tropes. It’s pretty damn hard to escape tropes in YA fantasy. I didn’t mind a lot of them, but a few did occasionally distract me (insta-love and the beautiful female protagonist who doesn’t realise she’s beautiful). Also, the bad guy is a super evil racial supremacist who wants to create a pure race whose name started with V, and to be honest I just pictured him as Voldemort the whole time (which was occasionally distracting, but always hilarious), and probably even read his name as Voldemort once or twice. This definitely isn’t a negative, but I’d have probably given my bad guy a different name (one not starting with V). There’s been a lot of talk about how Cassandra Clare drew really heavily from HP, and whilst I’m sort of indifferent to all of these claims, this is the one place where I felt she could have been a bit more subtle.
What I Liked
- The world building. I really expected not to like the paranormal side of City of Bones, so I was pleasantly surprised by how interested I was in the Shadowhunter’s world. I didn’t once find myself rolling my eyes at any of the warlocks/werewolves/vampires, which is a pretty good sign for me.
- The action. SO much happens in this book! It definitely never feels slow. Which is probably why I managed to speed through it. The action scenes are really easy to follow, but they’re still exciting, and even the ‘slower’, more emotional moments don’t drag on or slow down the pacing too much.
- The supporting characters. They made me laugh, they made me groan, and I ended up caring about most of them. Props to Alec and Bane, who already have a special place in my heart. It’s not that I didn’t like Clary, I just didn’t care about her as much as I cared about Alec and Bane. There’s not a heap of character development, but it didn’t bother me all that much to be honest.
- Jace. I admit it, I’m a sucker for a broody blonde hero. He has his faults, but at the end of the day he still ends up as a pro. In my younger years I probably would have swooned over him, but now he just makes me laugh. He’s cocky, he’s infuriating, and he needs a good slap, but in a way that made me love him, not hate him.
- It was fun. It was so nice to read a book that I didn’t feel like I had to force my way through, or pause to note down elements I had a problem with to talk about in a review, or put it down every chapter because I needed to replenish my interest/care factor before continuing. The City of Bones isn’t anything revolutionary. It’s far from the best YA series I’ve ever read. But you know what, I was fun. I read it in 5 hours (the paperback is nearly 500 pages, about the same length as Nevernight and we all know how long that took me), and immediately wanted to start the sequel.
Overall, despite the few negatives (and two of them are super nitpicky and not really negatives at all), I really enjoyed City of Bones, much, much more than I ever thought I would. I can’t wait to continue the series (who am I kidding, I already have), and I think I will become one of those people with all the Shadowhunter books proudly displayed on their bookshelves. Particularly as I’ve heard that each of the books/series just gets better as Cassandra’s writing develops and matures. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch the Netflix series.