Review of CITY OF BONES by Cassandra Clare (see her website)
MORTAL INSTRUMENTS #1
McElderry , February 2008
Fifteen year-old Clary Fray is in a New York club when she sees what looks like an assault in process. Following the assailants who somehow can't be seen by anyone else, she stumbles into a fight between teens who call themselves Shadowhunters, and a being they call a demon but which is actually an invader from a dying dimension. Although Clary insists she's perfectly ordinary, the Shadowhunters claim no ordinary human could see them.
When her mother is kidnapped the next day, Clary goes on the run with her new friends, after killing a demon herself.
With no adult Shadowhunters around, Clary and three other teens, along with Simon, the boy who has a crush on Clary although she manages not to notice, decide to rescue Clary's mother. They decide that doing so requires them to find the missing Mortal Cup. But along they way, they uncover clues to Clary's real identity. Her mother had been a Shadowhunter who left the organization behind. Can Clary trust them if her mother couldn't?
Finding the Cup takes the teens from a mage party to a vampire den and finally into conflict with a man long thought dead...one who is attempting to create a genocide among the magical inhabitants of Earth.
CITY OF BONES is targeted at young adults and we have to cut some slack for the improbable situation where a handful of teens are single-handedly responsible for saving the world. Still, it's hard to believe that nobody would have called in adult Shadowhunters. Then there's the matter of the Cup. This serves as a huge mcguffin. There's nothing in the story that really requires them to find the cup, they never really develop a plan for what they'll do with it (Clary fantasizes about exchanging it for her mother but would she really give the evil Valentine that much power? At any rate, she never follows through with this plan). And the romance and teen angst seems a bit incongruent when we've got the world to save.
Author Cassandra Clare starts well, creates an intriguing world that's got elements of Harry Potter and Star Wars but with a female lead, and sets the stage for a continuing series by introducing a whole series of missing magical objects that simply have to be recovered. Protagonist Clary is convincingly teen, self-absorbed in her own problems, oblivious to the feelings of those around her, and unquestioning of basic principles (how, exactly, for example, are the demons supposed to be stealing Earth's light and how do the minor activities of the Shadowhunters thwart that?). I suspect she'll appeal most to teen girl readers who are at similar spots in their life (perhaps I'm just not the target market).
I found CITY OF BONES to be readable, with moments of great fun (I liked the vampire motorcycles), but I had a hard time caring whether Clary ever recognized Simon's love, learned to do runes, and certainly failed in my attempts to maintain a suspension of disbelief.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to email@example.com. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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