Title: “City of Bones”
Author: Cassandra Clare
Pages (hardcover): 485 pages
Original Publishing Date: 27 March 2007
Synopsis (from the inside flap):
“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 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…”
Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:
- character death
- incest (?)
- internalized misogyny
Representation in the novel:
- gay rep (side character; however, at this point in the series, it’s seen as a flaw/something to hide)
- Asian rep (side character; I’m assuming East Asian from the description? But I don’t know for sure)
I remember reading this the first time back in middle school (6th grade, I think? I was 11 or 12). And wow, pre-teen me thought it was amazing. I really enjoyed reading it, but never finished the series after the third book. But now? I just…don’t like it as much. At all. It’s a quick read, but it definitely isn’t the best thing I’ve read. Not even close.
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare follows Clary, a 15-16 year-old girl who, while at a teen club (because I guess those were a thing?), witnesses a murder that only she is able to see. It’s also her first run-in with three mysterious strangers, including Jace Wayland. She thought she could leave that behind her, but she is soon thrust into their Shadow World full of demons, Downworlders, and Shadowhunters once her mother is taken and she herself is attacked by a demon.
Going into this, I already knew it wasn’t going to be fantastic. I didn’t really have high hopes, and I’m glad I didn’t. Because it’s worse than I remember it. Where to start…
First of all, Clary is the kind of character I’m starting to dislike. A lot. I know she’s just a product of her time (peak YA paranormal, back in the early 2000s), but I strongly disliked her. She was the “quirky” girl who “wasn’t like other girls,” and definitely wasn’t a slut like some characters (*cough*Isabelle*cough*). Ahhh, thinly-veiled internalized misogyny. My favorite.
And then we have the mysterious, asshole love interest. It wouldn’t be an urban fantasy without one of those! Like, okay, I get it, Jace is an ass who eventually comes around to actually “care for others.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that trope, but piled on top of every other trope in this book, I couldn’t stand it.
I would say something about Alec, and that’s just that I like his little middle school emo phase he has going on. He’s unapologetic about it, and I support him in all of his endeavors.
Oh, and Simon? The geeky nerd friend of the protagonist who’s known her for their entire lives and is in love with her, but she simply ~doesn’t see it?~ And then gets mad at her for kissing another guy because he’s been in love with her for the last ten years, and thought he was entitled to her simply because of that? Lol. Nah. No thanks.
Isabelle? Wouldn’t change a thing about her. Love her as a character.
Also, there is a huge event that happens in this novel that I just can’t get over. I’ve read through the third book, so I know how it ends, but this whole sort of incest-y thing that’s going on between two characters? I am so not a fan of it. I don’t care if they initially didn’t know about it; the thought that the author, and the editors, thought this was a good idea is beyond me. I don’t like it whatsoever. There could have been another thing used for ~climatic shock value~.
The plot was entertaining enough, though the dialogue seemed kinda “meh” to me. I don’t think there was much in terms of characterization or character development. I really enjoy the world-building. I have always thought the idea of Shadowhunters was pretty cool. But can I just say…how did this book get past any of the editing process? Some of it was choppy, things were often repeated, and it just had a…mediocre feel to it? Like I said, I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but the writing is still pretty bad at times.
However, despite that, the plot was fun enough to read, and I know the series eventually gets better (I hope), which is why I rated it as high as I did. (I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t for nostalgia, the rating would be somewhere around two stars…just saying. I’m being generous.)