Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

publication date: 2007
pages: 504 (e-reader edition)
ISBN: 978-1-4169-9575-3

It was this Tumblr post that finally convinced me to read City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments series. The author of the post really sold me on the book’s complex and detailed world and its engaging characters. After reading it, I’m infinitely glad I did.

City of Bones begins with Clary and her friend, Simon, going out to a seemingly normal club after a seemingly normal day. While at the club, Clary spots Jace, Alec, and Isabelle. Commonplace enough, except Clary is the only one who can see them. Clary follows the three out of the club and so starts her odyssey into the hidden world of Shadowhunters. Clary accompanies Jace, Alec, and Isabelle as they confront demons and devils that live in our midst. A love story develops, of course; this is YA fiction after all.

As described in the Tumblr post, Cassandra Clare creates an exhaustive other world that could be perfectly adapted to the big screen. She imbues the world of the Shadowhunters with plausibility and makes you wonder if maybe, just maybe, people like Jace, Alec, and Isabelle really do exist. Clare also superbly crafts tension and relationships between characters. The book deliciously contains sexual tension between two characters dozens of pages before the tension is acted on. Additionally, the relationship between Jace and his dead father is impressively constructed. In fact, the characters themselves are generally likable or interesting. I loved how Clary wasn’t just another female character who falls head-over-heels in love with someone. Instead, Clary is usually stubborn, defiant, and empowered. However, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Clare’s writing is her ability to incorporate not one, but two, of the best plot twists I’ve read this year.

Still, Clare’s writing in not perfect. For example, she starts a chapter with this clunker: “The weapons room looked exactly the way something called ‘the weapons room’ sounded like it would look.” Additionally, the book contains numerous cliches: a clumsy heroine, absent fathers, allusions to – but not actual – cursing (a retort muttered by Alec “sounded a lot more like ‘ducking glass mole’”), and the ever-present simile comparing a young woman’s skin with a bowl of cream.

City of Bones introduces fun characters in an engaging plot with an ending that makes you want to read the next one, which I did. In fact, I read the next five! To anyone who liked Twilight, or even Harry Potter, you will find something to enjoy in the Mortal Instruments series.

5/6: seek this book out

other reviews:

Love Vampires
A Librarian’s Library
The Guardian

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