Review: City of Bones, Part I

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Picture this:

A few weeks ago, I'm at my local bookstore. I'm scanning the aisles, looking for some new books to read (mind you I already had about five in my hand) when suddenly this jumps out at me from the shelf:





HOT. COVER. SERIOUSLY. Usually, I try not to judge books by their cover, but can I just say, umm, yum?

So anyhow, I'm at the bookstore, checking out, and I'm glazing lovingly at my six books when suddenly I register that the cashier girl is talking to me. It took me a good second to realize she was referring to City of Bones. Anyway, the gist of the conversation was how "ah-mazing" this book was and how if I love Edward Cullen (which I do) then I was for sure going to love Jace Wayland. Who's Jace Wayland? I wondered. Intrigued, that night, I decided City of Bones by Cassandra Clare would be the first stop on my reading adventure of the week.

Boy, oh boy, was that a good idea.

I love love love love love love love love love love love City of Bones. Did I mention love? Love.

Where to even begin? I suppose I should give you a short synopsis. Also, from this point on my review is riddled with SPOILERS, so if you don't want to be spoiled... you know what to do...

Here's a bit of a review from Amazon.com:

"Clary Fray is just an ordinary girl, til she's the only person in an all-age nightclub to see a murder and her mother disappears. A mysterious stranger, just a bit over her 15 years, comes to her aid and plunges her into a world where 'all the stories are real.' That includes demons, vampires, elves, etc. " - R. Kyle


The book is described as being an "urban fantasy." Clare combines the backdrop of New York City with that of the fantasy world. In this Big Apple, demons, fairies, werewolves, half angels, half demons, warlocks...and yes even vampires exist. Intricately weaving the lore with friendship, lies, treachery, love and other-worldliness, Clare provides us with a book that really is magical.

I can't say there's anything I really disliked about this book. Though there were somethings I found... out of place? I can't find the right word. Regardless, I suppose I'll title my sections, "Things I love" and "Things out of place." Enjoy!

City of Bones, Part I: Dark Descent

Things I love:

- I thought it was very interesting how the book started in a nightclub. It kind of reminded me of the first chapter of Blue Bloods (which I'll be reviewing soon), where the main character sees things that she's not supposed to see. I thought the whole first chapter was really well done and I liked the alternating perspectives. I also really like a book that has a bit of action right from the get go, which City of Bones definitely had.

- Secondly, I just wanted to say, I adore sarcasm. I'm sure you all can tell that bit by now. So when Clary's best friend and partner in crime, Simon, tries to get her attention by sarcastically saying, "I wanted to tell you that lately I've been cross-dressing. Also, I'm sleeping with your mom. I thought you should know." I couldn't help but become instantly hooked with the book. And Simon.




- I love that Clary is a strong feminine character. And I don't say this is the whole "ra-ra I'm a feminist, woman power forever!" kind of way. I just mean that I like that she's brave enough to go into a room where someone might be getting killed just because she had to do something. I respect courage above all else and Clary is definitely courageous!




- Love that Clary and her mother, Jocelyn, are painters. Being a former one myself, I can't help but be attracted to characters with similar interests.



- Now, here's the thing I really love about Clare as a writer. From the very very beginning, she's subtly providing you hints about crucial points that don't come up until much later on. Very a-la- JK Rowling. I really enjoy reading books that constantly have me saying "OMG! That's why she said that!"

- I love how awkward Simon is when trying to confess to Clary how much he likes her in the coffee shop. I think it's tres cute. I also really love the banter between Clary and Simon:

He squared his shoulders. "I'll get the coffee if you find us a seat. What do you want?"
"Just coffee. Black - like my soul."
Simon headed off toward the coffee bar, muttering under his breath something to the effect that it was a far, far better thing he did now than he had ever done before.
- This little episode, however, was followed up by the true introduction of my Jace Wayland. Sigh x 1000. The cashier girl at the book store was totally right. Suddenly, I found myself wondering... Simon, who?

Jace Wayland. Imagine the amazingness of Edward Cullen, but blonde, sarcastic, covered in fade-in-fade-out tattoos, amazingly hot and a shadow hunter (demon killer). Totally crush worthy. And man, do I have a crush! Anyhow, here's an idea of what Jace Wayland is supposed to look like and my idea of his rune tattoos (funny how I've never been attracted to tattoos, except now I find they just add to Jace's general, all encompassing hotness):





- Remember how I said Clary was brave? She's so brave that she would strike out against a shadow hunter in order to help her mother. Not just any shadowhunter, but Jace -Wayland- Shadow hunter-extraordinaire! Not to mention how she kills Raverner demons!



- I think it's pretty cool that the shadow hunters have a land of their own. Idris. If it were real, I'd love to go there. At least, I'll be able to do so vicariously through Clary in book III, City of Glass.

- "I don't want tea," said Clary, with muffled force. "I want to find my mother. And then I want to find out who took her in the first place, and I want to kill them." ... "Unfortunately," said Hodge, "we're all out of bitter revenge at the moment, so it's either tea of nothing."

I love witty characters. Hilarious.

- Speaking of hilarious:
"How did you know I had shadowhunter blood? Was there some way you could tell?"
The elevator arrived with a final groan. Jace unlatched the gate and slid it open. The inside reminded Clary of a birdcage, all black metal and decorative bits of gilt.
"I guessed," he said, latching the door behind them. "It seemed like the most likely explanation."
"You guessed? You must have been pretty sure, considering you could have killed me."
He pressed a button in the wall, and the elevator lurched into action with a vibrating groan that she felt all through the bones in her feet. "I was ninety percent sure."
"I see," Clary said.
There must have been something in her voice, because he turned to look at her. Her hand cracked across his face, a slap that rocked him back on his heels. He put his hand to his cheek, more in surprise than pain. "What the hell was that for?"
"The other ten percent," she said, and they rode the rest of the way down to the street in silence.
Oh, Clary. You're such a badass. No wonder all the boys like you.

- I love how absolutely cheeky Jace is. When Clary points out that some girls are checking him out on the subway, he replies "Of course they are. I am stunningly attractive." Yes Jace, you are. I agree.

- I love to read about Jace fighting demons and monsters. It's just fun.

- When Simon and Clary leave the house in Chapter two, they pass the door of the occupant of the bottom floor of her building, Madame Dorothea, who is a supposed psychic. Upon my initial reading, I didn't take this into account until I realized that it was important in Chapter 6. Like I said before, I just think it's nice to see a writer provide us details that are significant to plot early on. It would have been really easy to just introduce her now instead of before, but I appreciate that this isn't the case. Sorry I'm dwelling so much on this. I take little things like that into account. I'm a writer, as well. So sue me.

- Speaking about Madame Dorothea, I like that Jocelyn picked to live in that building for the sole purpose of having an escape route at all times. She's crafty, that one. She is. Also like that it is here that Clary realizes that something is blocking her mind.

- Simon and relating everything to Dungeon and Dragons. Laughed at that quite a bit.

- I've always been a big fan of King Arthur and the stories behind the Holy Grail. So when Clary, Jace and Simon find out that Jocelyn may have hidden the "Mortal Cup," I got very excited. Fantasy, epic battles, crush worthy guys, wit, sarcasm, and now Holy Grail -esque lore? All of my favorite things! I feel like I should write a song for Julie Andrews, so she can sing it on the hills of Austria, except my version would be much more fun. None of that whiskers on kittens stuff.

- Love that by the end of Chapter 8, Jace and Clary are bound by their shared hate for Valentine's (the Voldemorte of the shadow hunter world) men.

- The turn towards the political was interesting. The introduction of a hate group (The Circle) was a nice touch. I also find the characters who belonged to The Circle very compelling. As much as you want to hate them, you just can't (with the exception of Valentine, of course). I also think it's a cool twist, at the end of Part I, that Valentine was Jocelyn's husband.

Things out of place (now take this all with a grain of salt, people. I already admitted to adoring this book and saying just about anything negative concerning it is really a bit of a stretch for me):

- P. 31
"Maybe she hates them. Maybe they were abusive or something," Simon suggested. "She does have those scars."
Clary stared at him. "She has what?"
He swallowed a mouthful of burrito. "Those little thin scars. All over her back and her arms. I have seen your mother in a bathing suit, you know."
"I never noticed any scars," Clary said decidedly. "I think you're imagining things."

How can you live with your mother all your life and not realize that she has thin scars all over her body? How?! Yet, somehow your best friend has noticed?! It seems out of place especially considering how observant Clary is in virtually every other way.

- This isn't out of place, but it's a character that I almost immediately didn't like. Isabelle Lightwood. There's something about her that just sits wrong with me. Not that she isn't a good character... she is. It's just that, to me, she seems a little (or a lot) vain. To put it into twilighter- language, she's a bit Rosalie-esque, but not as psycho.

Isabelle actually cares fiercely for her brother and Jace. In her defense, she does get better... but it's not until City of Ashes that I start to respect her, but we'll get to that next time. Anywho, I present to you, Isabelle Lightwood:


- Ok, so I love Luke (Jocelyn's best friend and Clary's pseudo father figure). However, I must say that when Clary called him for help and he denied her. I absolutely loathed him. I also hated him when he was talking to Valentine's associates. I truly believed that he had forsaken Clary. I, honestly, think there's no greater treachery than betraying those you love.


So ends my review for Part I: Dark Descent. I will be back tomorrow with Part II (which really is my favorite part of the book). Tune back in and I promise you'll see some really really Jace-swoon moments! Also, no play list this time. I'll most probably post it with the next entry since the songs really have to do more with that section than this one!

8 COMMENTS
  1. Rosolare Said,

    Ok. So. I read your BD review. Truth be told, I disagree with you on a majority of what you have to say. But I see why you feel that way about stuff, so it's not like I'm flaming you. I just really really REALLY loved BD, and it's not blind love. I actually put it down at about 7 AM (yes... I got it at Midnight)and I had to sleep, digest it, and really, REALLY think about it. But in the end, I loved it. Anyway...

    About Cassie Claire. You don't have to do much digging online to hear about the whole Draco Trilogy/Mortal Instruments scandal. The HP fandom has practically been spitting nails about it since she published MI. I, personally, love the Draco Trilogy better than this because it feels like a more coherent, believable fan-fiction story within the HP fandom that actually FLESHED OUT the characters rather than leaving them static (sorry JKR... but many of your characters lacked a LOT of dimension... le sigh. I still love you though, HP!). Mortal Instruments IS good... but it's just... I dunno, I think, because I read the DT first, I was spoiled by MI. Jace Wayland? Is actually Claire's fleshed out Draco Malfoy (... and he's even MORE swoon-worthy if you would believe it...). Anyway, if you ever have a chance, find the Draco Trilogy and READ IT. CC took it off her website for obvious reasons, and it's *technically* nowhere to be found on the internet........ unless you bit torrent, which in that case you can easily find the whole thing with a simple google search.

    You see... I prefer the DT, because Claire, rather ingeniously, builds upon JKRs characters, and brings out the insecurities and relationships that they probably would have under certain circumstances. I feel that her characters in the MI trilogy kind of lack that dimension (which says a lot, since they actually have a good amount). So... In actuality, Clary is pretty much Ginny Weasley (with possibly a bit of a Hermione complex?), Simon is Harry Potter, and Jace is (a very watered down, somewhat sexy version of) Draco Malfoy. Oddly enough... I'd have to say the Draco Trilogy made me love HP more than I probably would have on my own (but I also read the majority of it between the fourth and fifth books).

    Anyway... I feel like that was worth stating. Overall though, I do love the Mortal Instruments trilogy.

    Posted on September 9, 2008 at 11:54 PM

     
  2. Haha. I think the exact same thing happened with me and Twilight. I read so many fan fictions between the time I finished reading Eclipse and the release of Breaking Dawn that then BD just couldn't compare to what I wanted to happen in my head. I understand your love for BD, a lot of people have it... as I do as well. I just try to step back and look at it critically.. putting everything that happened in the other books in perspective.

    Anyhow, I just received an email about the scandal. I hadn't heard about it until now, since I am new to the series. It would be interesting to read the fan fiction. I am a Harry Potter fan myself (having been a fan for some 10 odd years).

    I do confess that I find it strange to think of Draco in a swoon worthy manner.In my head, he's a greasy, leech of a kid who got in further than his head and who's only redeeming quality was the fact that he didn't completely rat out Harry to Voldemort in Deathly Hallows.

    Either way, I'd love to read it. I'll have a look around. Also... since you have read the fan fic and it's the predecessor for MI.... Jace/ Clary... end up together? Say yes! For the love of God, say yes!! I seriously can't handle their current situation.

    Thank you for your comment and informing me about Clare's FF. I'm also glad to hear you enjoyed Breaking Dawn. I did too, I just wanted a lot more from it than I felt I received.

    -E. B

    Posted on September 10, 2008 at 12:20 AM

     
  3. Heather Said,

    I didn't read too much of this review (the synopsis kind of grabbed me, so I want to read the book sans spoilers). I really liked your response regarding the penetration of fan fiction into the world of book series (i.e., HP and/or Twilight), that might have been part of my problem as well. I'll have to ruminate further on that. [Now I find myself reading fan fiction to fill in the gap I thought was left (in my mind) by Breaking Dawn.]

    Thanks.

    Posted on September 12, 2008 at 12:59 PM

     
  4. Heather Said,

    Okay, so I buckled and checked the book out of the library two days ago. I'm reading it along with three other books right now, so it's not getting all my attention; that being said, I'm over 200 pages into the book and love it.

    I disagree about Luke "betraying" Clary (I hold to the hope that it's a ruse)... I'm not completely done with Section II so I'm aware I could be naive. I do agree that I love the idea of the characters of the Circle (sans Valentine) because so many of them are now redeeming (truly redeeming) in a way that is more convincing than any of the former-death-eaters turned good guys were in the HP series. (I never trusted Snape, but I implicitly trust Hodge.)

    Also, Jayce is totally more swoon-worthy than Cullen (Edward who?) because he's not a caricature of perfection. He makes mistakes, has great sarcasm (loved the 90%/10% thing), and isn't overly gushy about his feelings for Clary (although I'm sure they're latently in there). I had read rosolare's comments (which I was unaware that this was perhaps some spawn of a Draco-related fanfiction) and I can't stop picturing Jace as Tom Felton (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).

    I'm going to keep reading, hopefully I'll get done before you post Part II of your review.

    Posted on September 15, 2008 at 11:15 AM

     
  5. ha ha! we discovered the book the exact same way! im likin what u sed, i totally agree with....damn it, jace is so exy coz hes arrogant and sarcastic and quotes poetry! BUT U MENTIONED NOTHING ABOUT HIM PLAYING THE PIANO.*gasp*

    Posted on October 26, 2008 at 4:11 PM

     
  6. kelly Said,

    RE: Review: City of Bones, Part I

    i loved this review! you put all my thoughts to paper (or computer screen :P) im not so eloquent when it comes to describing things, and especially i forget all the small things i love about a book because i zip through reading it so fast. haha (i sohuld keep a journal with me to jot down my thoughts) my sister and i read this series this summer and just adore it and basically love it for all the same reasons you do.
    just a great review you put up (im sending this link to my sister)

    ONE THOUGHT regarding your 'things out of place', more specifically the scars on Jocelyn's back. i found this part odd as well but after thinking about it a bit this is what I ASSUMED which obviously is just my take but thought maybe you'd like to hear:

    first i though, ok so a human can see these but clary who is supposedly a shadowhunter cannot? then i though, ok she probably didnt use a glamour every day of her life, hoping people would just assume they're scars (which apparently - at least simon - did). THEN i thought perhaps CLARY cannot see them because of the block Magnus CONSTATLY put on her mind. she wasn't able to see ANYTHING of her shadowhunter world. which maybe included these scars.

    again, GREAT review!
    kelly

    PS. you say you're a writer as well?...anything you might have available for public to read? i would love to if thats possible!
    givepeaceachance_3@hotmail.com

    Posted on September 16, 2009 at 5:09 PM

     
  7. FYI - This post was featured in my BBAW post today.

    http://literaturecrazy.blogspot.com/2009/09/bbaw-thursdays-post.html

    Posted on September 17, 2009 at 10:12 AM

     
  8. Paige Said,

    This is my first and probably not last time that I have been on your site, and I must say that this was a very well done review. I absolutely ADORE this series, and cannot wait for the fourth book and first movie to come out!

    Paige - once-aponatime@hotmail.com

    Posted on February 25, 2010 at 4:36 PM

     

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