Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments #1)

April 2007, Margaret K. McElderry Books

Young Adult urban fantasy

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. . . .

Finally, I get around to reading something out of the Mortal Instruments series. Am I ever glad I did. While not (yet, anyway) in the league of the absolute best books I’ve ever read, City of Bones is definitely high on the list. This is a gritty, tough, and refreshing urban fantasy that surely will appeal to readers across genres. The story starts out strong and doesn’t let up, leaving readers with plenty of loose threads to be picked up in the sequel, City of Ashes.

The vast majority of characters were fantastic. I liked them all, except Clary. Well, it’s not really that I didn’t like her, just that I didn’t make that connection to her that readers forge with excellent protagonists. She seemed slightly flat to me, or perhaps so multidimensional that it was difficult to comprehend her. All the others, though, were very well-developed and believable. I loved Jace–such an adorable jerk. The Lightwoods were awesome, and I hope to see more of them in future volumes. (Or volumes that are already out and my slowpoke self is just getting around to, more accurately.)

Clare really puts readers through the loop with numerous, hugely unexpected plot twists. It made me both nervous and excited to see which established story paradigm would be shattered or added to next. The action is fast-moving and just gory enough to give an edge and element of horror to the story.

That’s another one of this book’s strong suits: its ability to transcend genres while still keeping a firm footing in urban fantasy. Action-adventure, horror, and romance fans will all find something to appreciate here, right along with the fantasy junkies. The cover may look like a wacked-out Avon romance (you know that it’s the same buff, shirtless guy, plus Shadowhunter tattoos), and the description may seem like just another trendy YA, but the stuff in the middle–the actual story–is much richer than any of it.

Rating: 4 stars

 

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