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Cassandra Clare – City of Bones

March 11, 2011

32. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (2008)
The Mortal Instruments, Book 1

Read By: Ari Graynor
Length: 14h 11m (512 pages)

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Started: 15 February 2011
Finished: 25 February 2011

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I liked Clockwork Angel well enough that I wanted to read Clare’s other books.

New York City: It’s
all the demon killing that
keeps the rents so high.

Summary: Clary Fray is your average New York City teenager, living what she thinks of as a pretty ordinary life, until one night when out with her friends, she sees a bunch of strangely tattooed youths kill someone in a crowded club… without anyone else around them noticing. Soon after that, she runs into one of them again – an attractive but cocky young man named Jayce – only to return home to find her mother missing, and a terrifying monster waiting in their apartment. Clary soon comes to realize that there are things in the world beyond what ordinary people can see, and she must rely on Jayce and his friends – a group of demon hunters known as the Nephilim – for help. Because the person who has kidnapped her mother is an enemy of the Nephilim who was thought long dead, and in order to get her back, they must figure out what he wants with her… and with Clary.

Review: After reading only this book and Clockwork Angel, I can pretty safely say that Cassandra Clare has a formula. Take one down-to-earth ordinary girl who has extra-ordinary powers and doesn’t know much about her past or her parents (and has a last name spelled _ray), put her in danger from dark supernatural forces, have her be rescued by a Shadow Hunter who is sarcastic and cocky but is only that way as a means of masking his true feelings and secret pain, add in a best-friend-like-a-brother Shadow Hunter who’s keeping a big secret, a beautiful but tough female Shadow Hunter, some well-meaning but mostly peripheral adults, and a bad guy with some nefarious plans involving demons, et voila! YA paranormal romance to go. Had I read these in publication order, I wouldn’t have noticed so much… but then I probably would have been making these same points in my review of Clockwork Angel.

However, the fact that there are so very many similarities isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some formulas work because they’re good formulas, and even though I rolled my eyes the teensiest bit every time I recognized another parallel, I still enjoyed listening to this book. The similarities are primarily in the set-up and the characters anyways; the main plot arcs are quite different, and I suspect that they’ll be developed in distinct directions as the two series progress. There were plenty of twists and turns in City of Bones that I didn’t see coming, even with having read Clockwork Angel. The story kept me interested and involved, and a number of the secondary characters were unique and memorable. It’s just that I had a bit of a hard time investing in Jayce as a romantic lead; apparently my heart only has room for one snarky jerkface-on-the-outside-sensitive-on-the-inside demon-fighting Nephilim, and that spot is already taken by Mr. Will Herondale. Plus, one of the plot twists near the end of the book kind of soured me on the romance angle that takes up a large part of this story (no elaborations for fear of spoilers); I’ll be interested to see how Clare deals with that in future books.

The pacing in this book was better than Clockwork Angel – not so draggy in the middle – although it still could have used some tightening in places. It was also wonderfully wittily funny in places; Jayce may not by my ideal romantic lead, but he can certainly make me laugh. I wasn’t crazy about Ari Graynor’s narration – she didn’t do a particularly good job with distinguishing the voices, and her male voice was not so much deeper as just louder. Overall, though, I did have fun listening to this book, and will be continuing on with the series. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: If YA paranormal romance is your thing, this is a fun example of the genre that incorporates a lot of urban fantasy elements with a snarky sense of humor. If YA paranormal romance is not your thing, I don’t know if this is the book that will make you change your mind.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: I’m late to the party with this series; there are a LOT of reviews. I’m feeling lazy, so check the Book Blog Search results to get other folks’ opinions!

First Line: “You’ve got to be kidding me,” the bouncer said, folding his arms across his massive chest.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 12, 2011 11:00 pm

    I am kind of curious about this series, but I haven’t read it yet….

    • March 14, 2011 10:30 am

      Kailana – It’s entertaining, and a fun read, and while it didn’t completely bowl me over, there are a lot of people out there that capital-L LOVE it.

  2. Jenn permalink
    March 18, 2011 9:02 pm

    It was one of my favs. Twilight used to be my #1 but this has totally taken its place (Jace!!!!) BTW I liked Twilight for over three years as my #1 But now

  3. March 21, 2011 1:54 pm

    I’ve read Clockwork Angel, but not this series. I will get around to it sometime though, so it’s nice to read what you think of it.


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