City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
For people who read and enjoyed it when younger, for people who haven’t read much paranormal ya fantasy yet but enjoy it, for people who are under 23 years old and/or remember vividly what it’s like to be fifteen
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…
When I first read this series years ago as a much younger me, it was easily my favorite new series and style and author, et cetera. Now… not so much. I still enjoyed it, but boy is it a bit shaded for me now. Here’s why.
Due to knowing how some key elements of the plot resolve, there are moments in this first book that were both better and worse to me for knowing how the play out. Some were reassuring, and some were unimpressive. I’ll get into spoiler talk below, but overall the re-read experience was kind of win-lose with how it impacted key scenes.
► And the romance?
I mean, I’ve read up to about half of book four, so I know that Jace and Clary aren’t actually related. But the fact that they think they are and still make out and stuff is pretty uncomfortable as a reader. This romance with shades of incest is a bizarre take. Add the fact that they’re fifteen years old and it’s a pretty hard sell for me, Ms. Twenty-Eight.
With age seems to have come a lot of stuff I haven’t loved, namely Jace. And Simon. And, actually, often Clary too. Everyone is just so cliche teenage sass that it’s a bit much. Isn’t it meant to be a unique characteristic of Jace that he’s so cavalier and charming? So when everyone makes pretty much the same humor and take and attitude as him, it’s a bit of a question as to why everyone seems to think he’s so special and unique. Regardless, I don’t really find their dry humor funny. Probably it cracked me up when I was also fifteen, but less so now.
And then there’s the uncomfortable mirroring that left me a bit bemused. I started noting scenes and plot points and characters and lore that seemed really familiar. There’s SO MUCH that has an almost direct parallel to Harry Potter and other fantasy novels or tropes that I was like, is this a parody book and I never realized it? I think I never noticed before because I’ve just read so much more in sheer volume that I can see the common threads more easily now. But wow is the setup super familiar in a lot of ways.
Okay so with all that said, what did I even like, right? But it was still good! I do enjoy the world, despite it’s many similarities to some other stories. And since I’ve never finished the series fully (and also it was years ago) I’ve forgotten or never knew enough about what happens to be surprised by things all over again. And yet, I also knew key points that I enjoyed and could look forward to (rat escapades, for example!). In large part though, what I like most about it is knowing what it’s setting me up for, because I think the story as a whole is better than any one part.