Stars: 3 / 5
Note: I anted up the rating for the book in my review this time around.
I had written a review on City of Bones, the first installment in this series earlier. You can find the review here. My opinion at that time was that I did not believe that this series should be catered to teenagers although it includes teenagers as the characters. And also had given a very low rating. It was a bit hard for me to pick up the second book in the series after the first one. However, someone had mentioned to me that the series is not as bad as I thought it was and asked me to re-read the first book again to see if my opinion would change. And so I did and thus my review of the first book in the series again.
City of Bones is an urban fantasy novel by Cassandra Clare published in March of 2007. This is the first installment of The Mortal Instruments series. The novel is set in modern day New York but in an alternate world where humans, vampires, werewolves, magical fey, demons and shadow hunters co-exist.
It was a very normal evening for fifteen year old Clarissa “Clary” Fray and her best friend Simon Lewis at the Pandemonium Club until Clary witnessed a group of three teenagers – a girl and two boys – lure another boy into a storage room. Her curiosity took the better of her and she followed them into the storage room despite Simon’s denial about seeing the boys following the couple. That was her first encounter with The Shadowhunters who would keep this world safe by getting rid of the demons – Isabelle "Izzy" Lightwood, Jace Wayland and Alec Lightwood. Before she could share her experience with anyone and find out why she could only see those three Shadow Hunters, Jocelyn Fray – Carly’s mother – goes missing leaving behind a trail of demons who are hot in pursuit of Clary. Why would anyone want to pursue her, a mundane "mundane"? Who has taken Jocelyn? How is it that Clary suddenly acquired the power of Sight?
Who is interested in mundanes like Clary and her mom? Where has Jocelyn disappeared to? Why is someone after her and her family? Thus begins Clary’s unexpected and adventurous journey into a world of Shadowhunters that she had never known existed. She is pulled into the realms of Shadowhunters that gives her glimpses into their covenant and lives, Downwolders – consisting of vampires, werewolves, faeries and warlocks aka half-demons - who are at constant battle with the Shadowhunters, into the inner chambers of the Clave, Covenant and the Silent Brothers. And unravels more secrets that she ever could have imagined to be hidden from a 16-year old. What she finds not only amazes the reader but also shocks them.
Although Cassandra has done a good job, I did see some flaws which I could not ignore. There are several instances, incidents, plot parts, things and characters that reminded me of other authors’ works or movies. Makes me wonder if Cassandra had taken bits and pieces of these from different works – either movies, books or plays – and filled in some of the blanks with grout and made a tiled backsplash for her Mortal Instruments series to give it a complete picture. But one thing I should give credit to Cassandra. She has created her demons and half-demons so vicious and ugly looking that just reading about them got me goosebumps all over. She also uses elaborate description of scenes and repeats them. Repetition is not as much as I know one author who does, but the elaborate scenes and some of the descriptions sounded silly, some aloof, some unnecessary and some didn’t make sense at all.
For instance, couldn’t she simply had said “…I’m having second thoughts about letting you give me a makeover” instead of “…I’m having second thoughts about letting you make me over”. I had to re-read twice or thrice to make sure she meant what she meant.
There are conversations that occur talking about something happened in the past chapters. But I went back to read through old chapters and couldn’t find them. Clearly there is some disconnect here. Also having her last name as Clare and the lead character as Clary created a confusion for me while writing this review on the book.
As for the characters, Jace comes of very aloof and detached except when it comes to hunting of daemons and rogue vampires. But what will he be when his polished veneer is removed is something keeps the reader moving through the plot – ever turn of page he evolves more. Clary for me is more of a rotten spoiled school girl but gives her all when she is trying to find her mother. That one redeeming factor in her kept me going from reading the book. It would have been much better if the author had made her a bit more strong than just one of those characters who would be of no use when the time of need arises. May be she evolves in the future books. I have reservations on who Isabelle would become but she is one I am guessing can easily turn to the wrong side of the coin if she thinks that it will help in the long-term. Will have to wait and see how she turns out. Alec is a wild card for me for now although all he was portrayed was that of a jilted lover which he wore well. Of all these Simon has my heart set on. I would love to see his character evolved more and be better than Jace, which I am guessing what Cassandra would do in the end. He is one that would be best of all even though Jace and Clary are lead characters.
The story plot is very interesting as I noticed the first time around when I read it. However it still bothered me that Cassandra introduced the concept of incest in characters who are teenagers. I could accept love – be it gay or straight – at that young age even though I don’t approve of it, but incest is a line that I would not want to cross. But I must say that second time around the series piqued my interest despite that fact. I am curious to see what would happen to Jace, Alec, Simon, Clary and Isabelle in the next book and what new twists and characters will Cassandra introduce.
Budding love, Heartbreaks, Forbidden affection, Love triangles within triangles, Magic and Long-festering Feuds consist the beginning of the Mortal Instruments Series that is very intriguing enough for the reader to continue. And I am still going to read the rest of the books for the sake of principle that I have and also hoping that Cassandra would have redeemed some of the characters.
5) Cassandra wrote the book in three parts with an Epilogue having its own title. What was interesting was that there is a lot more behind the name of some of the titles:
7) Places we visit along with Clary through this journey:
8) Clary's Sights: Several scenes in the book described clearly shows that Clary had acquired the power of "Sight". However I have a feeling that we will be seeing these scenes either in this book or in the future books following this in the series. I am curious to see if they come true.
9) New words - at least for me: Although I have to congratulate her for using the most complex and unique words I have ever come across in any book by any author so far.