Tuesday, April 2, 2013

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - Book Review


City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - Book Review
A couple of years ago when I first began writing my book "The Forsaken" I was trying to explain the concept of my story to my sister--a former librarian and ex-Border's employee (so she's a book fanatic like me)--and she said it reminded her of these books about The Shadow Hunters. She couldn't remember what they were called, and I had no idea what she was talking about. Anyway, a year later I was at a Christmas party for my local chapter of The League of Utah Writers and I won a copy of "The Mortal Instruments, Book One: City of Bones" in a raffle. I was excited because I'd seen the cover at the bookstore and thought, "Ooohh! Nice Cover. I think I want to read that book." So, getting it for free was great. However, I was in the middle of three other series at the time and just put it on my bookshelf, saving it for another time; where it stayed untouched for two years. Then recently as I was designing the book cover for "The Forsaken", I was looking at some of my favorite books and came across "City of Bones." I decided to finally read it.

Now, I don't usually read much Young Adult novels because of three main factors: first, the story telling is watered-down for a younger audience, leaving it with very little atmosphere or description. Second, the conceptions of the stories (in Urban Fantasy and regular Fantasy at least) feel under developed because a younger audience apparently can't handle complex world building. Third, the characters and dialogue seem unrealistic because they exclude the natural sexuality of teenagers so it can be a YA book. I don't know about you, but I was a very hormonal, boy-crazy teenager, even though I was good girl. But nonetheless, those kinds of thoughts and feelings are natural at that age. However, I understand not wanting to include sex in these books, but all too often YA books seem to ignore sexuality all together which, to me, makes the characters seem unrealistic.

However, never fear Cassandra Clare has none of these issues in her book "City of Bones." As far as storytelling and description, Cassandra is awesome. I was not bored in the least; she gave great details at pivotal moments which really enhanced the mood of the book. The world building/concept of this series is amazing for a YA book, for any book really. "City of Bones" is rich in detail and unique mythology built off of biblical references and old legends. It's pure genius. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised at how three dimensional her characters were, and appreciated the realistic sexual tension between them, while still maintaining a PG-13 vibe. The dialogue was great, giving each character their own individuality without seeming written or cliché. It even made me laugh out loud a few times.

Finally, someone has written a teenage heroine that doesn't annoy me! I love Clary Fray. She's got wit, sarcasms (one of my favorite things) personality and spunk. Like many books do, "City of Bones." has its own love triangle--well, it's really a love octagon--but unlike other YA books, I actually felt like this one made sense. I can totally understand why two guys would fight over Clary, she's irresistible. Also, I can see why she would be torn between her two male leads. She has the good boy next door in Simon, but he's got more to him than that with his own sarcasm and wit and an endearing sense of loyalty that every best friend should have. On the other hand we've got the bad boy, Jace who isn't just a stereo-type but has real depth and vulnerability, taking the edge off his cold, arrogant exterior making you want to know him better. Not to mention he's sexy as can be and the chemistry between him and Clary is electric and believable.

I have to admit that it took me until chapter five to really get into this book. Not because the story telling wasn't good, it was. Nowadays books are faster paced, like movies, where you start off the book with a life changing event. (inciting incident) The thing I've always preferred about books is that you can take your time to get to know a character, establish their background and hang on tight as their lives become a roller coaster ride. However, once I got to know the characters, I was hooked and stayed riveted until the very end. I have to hand it to the author for her subtle foreshadowing that gave hints of the outcome of the book yet left me completely unprepared for the twist at the end (you will be, too). All too often the ending of a book is less surprising and more predictable. Although I was a little mad about the ending, eventually I broke down and bought the next book because I was too invested in the characters not to read on. Overall I give this book a 5 star rating. The Mortal Instruments is my new favorite series from my new favorite author.

"The Mortal Interments: City of Bones" movie comes out in August 2013. I can't wait to see it. Below I included a music video of the song that I think should be Jace's theme song, or at least what Clary thinks of him. I can totally hear this song over the end credits of the movie. Also, I included the movie trailer itself. I hope you enjoy both the videos and go out and pick up this book. You will not be disappointed.

R.J. Craddock

Jace Wayland bad boy theme music:

City of Bones Trailer: