Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

title:  The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

author: Cassandra Clare

pages: 496

format: Paperback

isbn/asin: 978-1416914280

buy it: Amazon

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 9/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for: People whose lives have been desolate since the end of Harry Potter. Fans of snarky writing, relatable characters, and breakneck plots.  Teens.  Adults who still have a sense of whimsy.  Doctor Who fans.  Buffy fans.

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.

the basics
A very long time ago, I used to write Harry Potter fanfiction.  And so did a girl named Cassandra Clare--who, by the way, was exponentially more successful at it.  When I spotted this book on shelves a couple years ago, I freaked out.  Surely this could not be the same Cassandra Clare who wrote Drago Dormiens!  It was.  In case you were wondering.  Long story short, I hoarded these books when Borders went out of business and it took me way too long to read them.  I got about two chapters into this book before falling in love.  I love Jace.  I love Clary.  I love Simon.  I love every single character and every single page.  I love how nerdy and artsy and elegant Clare's writing is, how sarcastic, how full of snarky witticisms and anime and art references.  This is the kind of fantasy book I've always aspired to write.  And now I'm reading book two, because I can't wait for more and I can't believe I've been missing out on this fandom for so long!  Read it.  It's phenomenal.  Original, full of action, fantastically well written.  I'm going to stop gushing here and start gushing below.

plot . 5/5
No silly set-up.  No waits.  Clare throws you right into the plot page one.  I admit, I thought the blue-haired boy was going to be a love interest, at first.  Clare shocked me, and she never stopped shocking me.  Every chapter is something new that throws a wrench in the plans and moves the plot forward.  Even the long passages of exposition aren't slow, because they're so interesting!  The Shadowhunter world is amazingly rich and well-developed.  I feel like I know it, and could find it somewhere if only I knew how to see like Clary could see.  It didn't let up until the end--and even then, the twists came to the last page.  There was one plot point that freaked me out.  It has to do with the familial relationship between two characters, and I hope Clare resolves it well, because right now I'm just going EW.

concept . 5/5
Demons aren't new.  Vampires aren't new.  Demon hunters aren't new.  The Mortal Instruments takes them all and makes them feel new.  I don't see the comparison to Buffy as strongly as some critics do, but I guess there's a similarity in the Whedonish wittiness of the writing and, ya know, demon hunters.  But Clare does it differently.  It's more epic.  More pretty.  There's something about it that makes you want to dance in fairy rings and listen to Celtic folk music.  It's so richly developed that even the silly parts, like demon-run motorcycles, feel believable.

characters . 5/5
I claim Simon for marriage.  Just saying.  Also Jace.  Okay, so I love them all.  Clare's characters are multifaceted and just whimsical enough to make you laugh out loud.  Jace and Simon are both delightfully snarky, which happens to be my weakness, and so easy to fall in love with.  Clary has plenty of wit herself, which is great.  Even though she's new to this world and not a good fighter, it never feels like she's letting the boys drag her along.  She takes charge of her own destiny and kicks plenty of ass.  Alec and Isabelle are also awesome.

style . 6/5
So, how many times can I use "snarky" in one blog post?  Clare just knows sarcasm.  The dialogue, the descriptions, the writing--it's all a mix of clever quips, amusing turns of phrase, and very pretty descriptions.  She knows how to build a scene without bogging you down in description.  She knows how to keep the action going in a fight and go into slow motion for that epic kiss.  She knows how to lighten the tension of a dark moment with a bit of wry humor.  I'm enamored.

mechanics . 5/5
I could have done without the epilogue, but it didn't take away enough to make me dock points.  It just didn't add much.  I thought everything was nice and polished.

take home message
The rebirth of YA fantasy--a breathtaking adventure told with a hint of whimsy, a dash of wit, and plenty of heart.

Note: I purchased this copy new. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.

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