My Goodreads review of City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments Book 1)
I added this review to Goodreads on 7th June 2011 where I gave the book 3/5 stars.
Now first off let me say that I read this straight after Veronica Roth’s fantastic Divergent so it had some matching up to do.
I’d been hearing the buzz about these books what with the film being cast and the first one was on special offer on kindle (just over £2, I think) so I thought what the hey. I added to my Goodreads account which sent a tweet. A friend replied and mentioned that the author had been in a plagiarism row back when she was a fan fiction author.
Just letting you know all that just in case that has swayed my review below. I’ve tried to go based just on the work though.
I’m confused by my reaction to this book because on the surface it has everything that should make it a great read for me. But it just didn’t grab me as much as I’d hoped for. I was able to put it down without too much of a fight. The opening was exciting, plunging us and our protagonist Clary straight from the ‘mundane’ human world into a world of demons and Shadowhunters. What to her looks like a teenage gang attack on a boy that had caught her eye turns into three Shadowhunters ridding the world of a demon. That her friend Simon can’t see these people makes us realise that Clary is special. I actually think the whole only see can see them thing could have been played up a bit more though.
Okay, already the events have got a bit mixed up in my mind. But then her Mum gets attacked and taken and Clary ends up gradually finding out her whole mundane existence has been a lie.
She gets taken by the three Shadowhunters to The Institute and we find out more about the world. Jace is the love interest and he comes across as a really cocky and arrogant and, yes he’s witty and he protects her but this comes across as a serious case of falling in love with the bad boy. It is clear to everyone (except Clary) that Simon loves her. The sibling Shadowhunters, Isabelle and Alec also give Clary a bit of a frosty reception and it’s not Isabelle that is jealous of the growing relationship between Clary and Jace but Alec (Jace is unaware Alec is gay). This is underplayed in this book but would be interested to explore in later books especially with the shock revelation that Clary and Jace are brother and sister (What!!! I’m not a prude but was concerned that Clary didn’t seem more shocked and upset by this news – I’ve since read some spoilers for later books and it turns out they aren’t related – but they don’t find this out til book 3 and still are attracted in book 2 so it’s going to be a little weird seeing the ‘hotness’ of Jace through Clary’s eyes). As if they haven’t got enough left over to deal with in getting Clary’s mum out of a coma and stopping ‘their’ dad Valentine from evil domination.
I felt the book was a little overwritten in places, lots of metaphors dangle about (and stick out) but I do think Cassandra Clare has a skill in writing dialogue but like others have pointed out why does everyone have to be so witty. Also not sure about Jace’s complete personality change at the end of the book, yes he’s confused and he’s got his father back from the dead but how could he have been so taken in and forgiving? I could see most of the plot twists coming and I’m not usually good at guessing those.
One little writerly peeve – I’m not sure why new sections started with an indented line. The chapters also seemed really long to me which probably helped in putting the book down, had they been shorter and snappier I might have wizard through it more and enjoyed it more).
So, my review has seemed a little damning so far. Promising start but then a few plot twists etc that throw things off. But, i have given it 3 stars which meant i did enjoy it. As a budding writer myself I am impressed by the Worldbuilding she has created. True, like some people have mentioned you don’t fully know what the mysterious Stele tool can/can’t do so maybe aspects like that could be tightened up, but it is a series so you don’t expect or want everything fully explained up front.
The most intriguing aspect for me and one which I would hope receives further exploration in the next books would be the marks or runes that the Shadowhunters apply to their skin before battle.
There’s a character called Luke who has been a ‘friend’ of Clary’s Mum, who at first seems to betray them both but then comes back as a Werewolf and I kind of liked him. I also liked Alaric who was sadly dispatched. Like I’ve already said I like Alec and did not appreciate being left dangling about whether he was alive or dead for a large portion of the book.
Well, it’s certainly got me talking (I would have talked more about Divergent had I included spoilers but didn’t want to potentially ruin in for others, I kind of feel had I known about the twist with Jace and Clary I would have maybe enjoyed it more).
I got to the end of the book and the author’s note said she was working on Book 3 the final part of a trilogy, this confused me as I was aware book 4 had just been released (and found out 5 and 6 are coming too) and it smacked a little of milking the cash cow – not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that if you’ve got more stories about these characters itching to be written but the goalposts have already been changed.
So, am I going to read the others, probably yes but not straight away and I will most likely borrow them from a library rather than buy them. Currently each book is just under £5 and I’m not convinced they are ones I will keep going back to but if the second book changes my mind who knows. I’ll try and keep open minded because I do think there is potential with these characters and this world.
Well the rest of the books were on special offer on Kindle (and this one is currently £0.99p) so I have purchased them and am ready to give this world another try in 2012 (I just have to find the time now). I’ve added some sponsored links below.