by Cassandra Clare
Published by Margaret K. McElderrly Books, 2007
One thing I'm NOT going to do in this review is compare everything in this novel to Harry Potter. I know the relations are sometimes obvious, but they are obvious in this entire literary genre. What do you think Rowling created? Certainly not just a book series, she created a trend. It's perfectly respectable for a book within a genre to follow a trend. It sells doesn't it? Just so long as its author uses some imagination and originality, the book will thrive. In the case of City of Bones however, imagination is seriously stunted.
To begin, the writing is quite bland and Clare's writing habits seem to make a drastic change halfway through the novel. Clare tends to break one of literature's first rules: show don't tell. She tells. For as long as the book was, I felt like it was loads and loads of information, but never any explanation or description. Clare just kept pushing the plot with new information while never developing her characters or setting. I understand as the first of a series there is quite a lot of information to introduce, but it shouldn't compromise character development. Also, at the start of the novel, I had the roughest time not abandoning the story at once. I kept up with it for my book club, but each chapter ended on a full halt of the plot. It was logical, sure, but it didn't entice me to read the next chapter. The first half of this book was slow reading simply because I only read a chapter at a time (and then I usually took a nap. seriously). Finally, towards the middle of the book, Clare started using cliff-hangers at the end of her chapters which really sped up the reading. I actually got quite into it and read the second half of the book in nearly one sitting.
I already mentioned that characters were underdeveloped, but they were also a bit stale. They were intended to be humorous (Jace and Simon especially), but their wit wasn't really snarky or creative in any way. Honestly all those 'funny' comments seemed to be taken straight out of pop culture history. For example: Clary's mother shouts "Jesus!", Simon's response - "no. It's just me." I didn't laugh. The witty dialogue seemed to be the author's quick cover to ensure her characters would be liked if they were just sexy enough and said funny things. This would work for a secondary, or static character, but for the main roles this was prohibiting to the story.
Now I realize I'm giving this book a lot of hate, but there are some redeeming qualities to it as well. The character of Magnus Bane was actually really neat. I wished there were more of him.The introduction of Runes as a sort of ancient language and tool was creative, but not extensive. The second half of the book really picks up the pace and despite information overload, there is a pretty unique twist at the end of the story. I hope the twist doesn't become complicated any further in the later novels because it is quite tangled by the end of this one. While the twist wasn't entirely unexpected, it was new, original, and quite daring for a YA author to do. While I don't intend on finding out what happens in the next novels any time soon, I admit I am interested in the plot just enough to carry on the series. It's a guilty sort of feeling, but screw it. I'll say I got sucked in. That twist at the end may have been Clare's saving grace because now I'm at least intrigued in the reading the sequels. I think I'll give my mind a rest for now. That first book was a war.
Rating this book is a nightmare. I really don't know where to place this one. It's so difficult to be consistent in reviewing. The writing was amateur, and the plot was at best curious. I did find myself overlooking the lack of descriptive writing ("the armoury looked just as something called an armoury would look like" -- what??) and delved into the action, the mystery, and, I admit, the sexy Jace I imagined. This book is purely entertainment. If that's what you want, to simply escape you're own reality, to read for the love of adventure (and why wouldn't you?) - then I say go for it. If you can't stand bad similes and flat characters, then keep your distance. I give this three out of five foxes.