One of my buddies just recently remembered how fantastic reading is and how great books are and was looking for a new book to read. As I am a nice person who happens to live very close to a library and actually has a library card, I offered to pick up the searched for book, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (Young Adult 485 pages) by Cassandra Clare. Since I wasn’t able to deliver the book to my buddy until Monday, I took some time over the weekend to read it myself. That way, we would have something to talk about in between sessions at the rock climbing gyms.
“When 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 people like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know …”
If you haven’t read this book and you want to be surprised by anything that happens, I suggest you stop reading this review because I am going to spoil absolutely everything that happened in this book.
I’m going to start off by saying that this book didn’t seem to be anything really unique that I haven’t already read before. This felt like a lot of the same young adult books that I’ve seen on the market in so many different places. There’s brooding/moody teenagers who are somehow trained in specialty things that involve a world “grownups” and “adults” are somehow oblivious to, or if people other than this select group of teenagers do know about this world, they are distinctly unhelpful. A lot of young adult stories also love to have incompetent adults, which lends itself well to unusually talented teenagers. Part of it is probably wish-fulfillment where a lot of readers at that age probably want to imagine being powerful and talented and secretly knowing better than the adults in their lives. I admit that there was a good portion of my life when I always sort of wished that someone would come along like Professor Xavier and tell me I was special so I could be a super hero. It never happened and I learned how to be pretty spectacular all on my own through hard work and tenacity so I very much understand the draw of wanting to be unique and have the power to save the world.
I’m also exhausted of these teenage chicks being attractive and not thinking they are. How about having characters who aren’t “traditionally” attractive and are actually NOT “traditionally” attractive instead of just having a poor self-image? I am also less likely to believe that these teenagers are both extremely attractive and a fully capable artists at the young age of 16? Really? When I was 16, I was oblivious to everything. To be fair, I’m in my late 30s and I’m still oblivious to everything. I’m just tired of people who are naturally beautiful and talented instead of people who have to study and work for extended periods of time to be either, let alone both. Most of the talented artists I know have studied their craft most of their lives and it is truly a lifelong pursuit for them.
One of the other things common to young adult books are the weird love triangles where one of the guys is super talented and hot but there’s also the “normal” guy who is terribly in love with the main chick. The chick is somehow oblivious to how the “normal” guy feels about her, but she is astute enough to find the token gay guy who is in love with one of the guys who is totally into the chick. There’s also some random hot chick that is supposed to somehow be competition for the affections of one (or both) of the guys interested in the lead chick. And it’s all so … just done. It’s not unique. Clary spends most of the book discussing people’s bodies and the way they move in very vivid detail and it seems so bizarre to me, like talking about how people’s muscles move under their shirts. Most of the book seemed overly, pointlessly, annoyingly sexual to me.
The book also had the standard “family” plot twists where the main character’s lineage is actually special and the main character isn’t normal at all. I had Clary pegged on page 78 that she was going to wind up being this guy Valentine’s kid. It just happens that Valentine, the biggest bad out there, hasn’t been seen or heard of in sixteen years? And it just so also happens that Clary is sixteen years old? Really? I think it was somewhere in the middle of the book where I first had the idea that Jace was probably Clary’s brother. I think it was the constant references to his hair.
Speaking of Jace, the guy was kind of a total jerk throughout the entire book and I never thought he was charming. And his personality shift at the very end where he went from being self-assured and determined to being Valentine’s puppet just because they were related was unrealistic at best.
Overall, I’d say that this book is probably a high one or a very low two on my rating scale. I’m glad I borrowed it from the library, as it’s not really a book I feel the need to own. I probably wouldn’t read it again and while the book wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t great, either. I’m not going to run out and find the next book in the series. I might read the next book at some point, but it isn’t very high on any of my priority lists.
Clare, Cassandra. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007.