Tuesday, January 6, 2015

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

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
The Mortal Instruments Series #1
Simon and Schuster, 21 April 2007
485 Pages
Young Adult Paranormal
3.5 Stars
Barnes & Noble; Book Depository; 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...

I know that I am really late to the Mortal Instruments party. Everyone has read these books already. However, I put off reading the series until now because I didn't believe the hype surrounding it. YA paranormal novels are not normally my taste, and I didn't wanted to endure another Twilight Series. Yet, so many people whose taste I respect enjoyed these books, so I finally picked up the first book, City of Bones.

I can completely see why people love it, and I finished it in one day. I liked it, but I didn't love it.

If you are one of the only people that hasn't read this series, it's a YA paranormal series about a 15-year old girl, Clary, who finds out that, beneath the normal New York exterior, lies a world of demons, the Shadowhunters who hunt them, and the Downworlders who fall somewhere in between.

Once her mother is kidnapped by Valentine, a Shadowhunter turned betrayer, she finds out that she is not who she always believed and strives to find her mom.  By her side are her best friend, Simon, and the teenaged Shadowhunters Jace, Alec, and Isabelle.

The characters are what drew me in more than anything, particularly Jace. I know that he is the cliche, misunderstood, brooding boy who is good looking and snarky but has a good heart. But that type of character works for me as long as there is ample character development. Plus, as his story unravels more and more, it just increased my curiosity about him.

Clary might turn into a good character, but I am not crazy about her most of the time. She has her moments when she surprises me or when I feel a burst of appreciation for her, but other times she is too slow or immature for me. I see potential for her to grow into a character I really like, but she may also turn into a character whom I really hate.

This story was lacking in character development. No matter how much Clary sees, she stays the obstinate, naive girl who never thinks things through. And Jace doesn't really open up to her. He stays brooding and shielded the whole time. I can forgive this, though, because this is a series, and they have six books to grow up in.

The plot itself was interesting and definitely kept me wanting more. I read this book in two sittings because I couldn't put it down. It wasn't perfect, and there were moments that I could have done without, but they were small and inconsequential.

There was just way too much happening, though. There was the main plot with Valentine, but then there was all the backstory for it, subplots, and all the supporting character's back stories. I felt overwhelmed by the constant action.

I also found it impossible to suspend my belief enough to buy that all of this happened within the span of two weeks. No way.

The world-building was done really well. I could definitely see how all the different worlds came together and how New York could house the Shadowhunters and Downworlders. I thought that the mythology behind it all, as well as the explanation of how Downworlders come to be, was really well thought out, as well.

There are some things that I want to know a lot more about, though, especially the entire magic system, such as how the Runes and stele work. I also want to know more about the Clave, their rule and boundaries, and the other Shadowhunters.

My main issue with the book was the writing. There were definitely some generic, cliche moments that made me roll my eyes. There were portions that just didn't flow well and moments that ended really awkwardly. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't better than average. Clare is a completely unremarkable writer, so she doesn't earn any points in that department.

This book made for a really entertaining read that kept me engaged.  It didn't blow my mind, but I enjoyed it and will continue on with the series.

Overall, I gave this book 3.5 stars.