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City of Bones Book Cover

Title:  City of Bones

Author:  Cassandra Clare

No. of Pages:  485

First Released:  2007

Synopsis (Courtesy of Joseph-Beth Booksellers):  “Their hidden world is about to be revealed….

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. Clary knows she should call the police, but it’s hard to explain a murder when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary.

Equally startled by her ability to see them, the murderers explain themselves as Shadowhunters: a secret tribe of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. Within twenty-four hours, Clary’s mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque 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….”

Comments and Critique: I have begun to realize that while the Read-a-Thon was fun and allowed me to finish several books I have been wanting to read for several months, it did nothing for my enjoyment of said novels.  Honestly, I found that the later in the evening I read the book, my enjoyment of the novel diminished severely.  I am very saddened by this, as I happened to finish City of Bones about an hour before I finally went to bed that night.  I had very high hopes about this book; I had even heard comparisons between Peeta from The Hunger Games to Jace.  I was very excited to determine the comparison for myself.

Unfortunately, either because of my exhaustion, my high hopes, or general malaise, City of Bones did not live up to my expectations.  Jace does not hold a candle to Peeta, in my opinion (or Edward or even Jacob).  He seemed too jaded, too impetuous for me to really be able to enjoy him as a character.  In addition, the demon and the Shadowhunter relationship was just not that scary to me.  I never truly feared for any of the character’s lives, nor was I concerned about their future fate.  Rather, the allegory for tolerance that was their relationship seemed flat and uninspired.  It was a bit too lecture-like versus a subtle lesson that needles itself under the skin.

As for the characters themselves, I found them all rather one-dimensional.  Even though Clary is strong, determined and brave, almost bull-headed, she is too black and white; everything is either right or wrong with no room for middle ground.  This is a completely inaccurate method of looking at the world and put me off Clary more than I would have liked.  Simon was the stereotypical sidekick, a la Duckie in Pretty in Pink, Jace the stereotypical mysterious romantic lead, Clary the strong but conflicted heroine who always requires rescuing.  I hate to say it but City of Bones was a bit too formulaic.

That is not to say that it did not hold its share of pleasant surprises.  The romantic tangles took quite an interesting twist, one I will admit I did not see coming.  Honestly, even three weeks after finishing, I have no final thoughts on that twist.  Part of me is somewhat upset that Ms. Clare would raise the reader’s hopes regarding the relationship only to dash them so profusely in the end.  Part of me is concerned that she would hint at such a relationship.  Yet, a third part of me does not care enough about the characters to be overly affected by the final relationships.  The conclusion of the book was also a pleasant surprise.  It was not overly predictable and kept me awake in those wee hours of the night.  (That in and of itself is a remarkable feat.)

The key to any novel, and a reader’s overall feelings about the novel, is whether the reader would want to continue reading, should the novel be a series.  In the case of City of Bones, I will admit that continuing the series is not my highest priority.  I would not and have not added the second book to my wish list.  Rather, should I ever cross the threshold of my local library again, I may (or may not) borrow it from the library one day.  Again, it would not be at the top of my must-be-borrowed list.

However, I will freely admit that I probably was not in the greatest frame of mind when I finished the novel.  City of Bones remains an extremely popular novel among YA and YA enthusiasts.  I can definitely see why it would be popular among that set.  It has all the hallmarks of popular YA fiction.  Therefore, I will say that in this instance, you should not necessarily consider my opinion about this book.  Read in the haze of the April Read-a-Thon, my overall impression was definitely impaired by the lack of sleep and having read four other YA books during the previous twelve hours.

So I throw myself into the arms of my readers.  Should I give the series another chance?  Are my impressions indeed biased due to exhaustion?  Or did others find the same faults?  Please share your thoughts!

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