I loved City of Bones. I was completely wrapped up in the story from beginning to end, and though the romantic aspects of the book have been criticized for being a little trite and overly emphasized, I thought that the struggles of the main character Clarissa were engaging. I found myself empathizing with her throughout the novel, and found her character to be compelling and deep. The story is full of twists and turns and surprises- I can’t imagine being bored by this book.
“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…”
-blurb off of the back cover of City of Bones
City of Bones has been compared to Harry Potter, and it’s true there are definitely some similarities- two different worlds interact, there is a force of darkness that has to be overcome, magic is learned not inherent. But as much as there are parallels between the two, I can’t say that I liked one more than the other, because there are major differences. The tone of the writing is totally different (though they are both written in third person, I found the wording and style more appealing in the Mortal Instruments series. In some ways, City of Bones seems to me to be aimed at a slightly older audience, I think possibly because there are no made up spells in City of Bones- the magic in the Mortal Instruments series relies on “runes”. Somehow, to me, drawing an eye to open a lock is more appealing than saying “alohomora”). The vocabulary, also, is more advanced (as a logophile, I love to find new words when I read). Words like exsanguinated, zeal, pragmatic, philanthropy and supercilious spring off the pages, having been worked flawlessly into the tapestry that is City of Bones.
I am always a sucker for characters with major flaws. Cassandra Clare has done an enviable job of weaving together character flaws and virtues, without making it too obvious exactly why each character has this flaw. The characters seem real, in that although you may realize that Jace has a constant need to save the world, you don’t get the immediate satisfaction of knowing why he feels the need to risk his life. And, say what you will about this, but I think a healthy mix of introverts and extroverts is critical to a good story- and you’ll find that in City of Bones; larger than life characters that leap off the page.
The main narrator is not a cookie cutter. She is her own unique person with an immense vocabulary and a huge heart. Clary puts others before herself, 9 times out of 10- and that is what makes her compelling. Even the most reliable, honest, down to earth person doesn’t do the right thing 100% of the time. Clary feels like a real person because she is flawed, in just the way that you or I might be. And, also, she knows that life goes on. Even in the darkest times, Clary never gives up hope. She’s a fighter, through and through. She’s an underdog. I think I love this story so much because, in my mind, it’s a metaphor. Maybe there’s more evil in the world than good, more shadows than light- but good triumphs over evil in the end. Things work out. Love conquers all. And there is always another battle to fight.
“Where there is love, there is often also hate. They can exist side by side.”
- Cassandra Clare, City of Bones