Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Pages: 485
Publication: March 27, 2007
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Summary taken from goodreads: 
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...  
Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.


I remember reading this book around five years and thinking that it wasn't that great, that it read like fanfiction. Then, a few years later, when I really got into reading, I found out that the book was based off of a fanfic trilogy. Fast forward to the end of last year, my sister convinced me to watch the movie with her, and while the movie wasn't that great, the details of the movie compared to my vague memories of the book made me want to give the trilogy a shot again.

I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. There was so much that bothered me, and yet I still couldn't quit reading the book.

Like, now that I knew that this trilogy was based off of the author's Draco trilogy, I could see the similarities. I mean, the bad guy alone was pretty obvious: Valentine = Voldemort, the Circle = Death Eaters, and attempting a genocide in the name of preserving blood purity? Really, really similar.

And the writing still read like fanfiction. The writing was awkward at times, especially when describing certain scenes or smells. The descriptions would start off well enough, the words flowing together smoothly, and then there'd be an awkward phrasing that would just throw the whole scene off for me because of its incongruity.

And don't get me started on the excessive amounts of similes used in the book. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with similes; they're great for descriptions, but using so many similes trying to help describe scenes and emotions is a cop-out. It's like saying, "I don't really know if you understand what I'm trying to say, so here's a comparison for example" or "I'm too lazy and/or can't be bothered to explain this so here's an example of what I mean." Either way, it doesn't reflect well on a writer.

In addition, for an almost 500 page book, most of the characters weren't even fleshed out that well. Clary was pretty much a Mary Sue with the only traits that separated her from being a complete bore was how stubborn and brash she was, which isn't that much of a compliment since she never thought things through. Jace was supposed to be a tortured jerk with a soft side, but I couldn't get over how he never talked like a proper teenager would; his vocabulary was too advanced to sound like a 16-year-old. Alec was always either angry or jealous until the end when he had a sudden change of heart. Isabelle served as a foil for Clary. Simon was the typical sidekick/boy next door, although his skills with a bow was a nice touch. Luke was actually fleshed out pretty well, since you get to hear about his back story and motivations. And her mom and Valentine never really get to explain themselves, since you hear about their motives through everyone else

And yet, even with all of those problems, I still finished the book. I was still interested enough in finding out what happened until the end that I read all 485 pages, so there's something addicting about this book that'has me picking up the sequel... Plus, I already own the next two books in the series, so there's that.

Hopefully the next book will be better written with better characters.

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