Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Posted August 14th, 2013 in book review / 25 comments


The Mortal Instruments Series #1

by Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (April 2009)
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Paperback (512 pages)
Source: Purchased
Find It: Goodreads | Amazon Print | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 stars)

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. . .

At A Glance
I saw the potential of City of Bones but I just don’t think it was for me. I enjoyed some of it but mostly it felt too juvenile for me.

The Good
This is the kind of book where I don’t know what I am going to rate it until I write my review. Sometimes I need to see what naturally comes out of me as I share my thoughts before I can make a final decision on a book.

First, I loved the world in City of Bones. I do wish we got a little more explanation of the world, but what we did get was pretty awesome. It felt new and original (though many people say there are a lot of similarities to Harry Potter). I loved the idea that this supernatural world exists right under our noses, and only certain people can see the true world and all it’s scariness. The descriptions of the creatures were amazing. I could easily picture them in all their grotesque or unique glory.

Clary wasn’t always my favorite, but I loved her willingness to do anything to save the people she cares about. She’s not necessarily brave or strong, but she risks herself no matter the consequences because it’s the right thing to do.

Jace was all sorts of badass, cocky, hilarious, and yummy. He loves to kill things and thinks very highly of himself. He acts like he’s unemotional but we see deep down he has issues, which made him mysterious. I loved his humor the most. You have to love a man who is confident and is able to joke around. But he’s also very efficient and knows how to handle any situation.

The only other character that is worthy of mention is Magnus. Now that dude is cool. We don’t get to see a lot of him but I just got this vibe that he’s someone you would want to know. He’s a smooth talker, handles his business, but also has sympathy for others. He seems like he’s only out for himself, but I knew better. And that’s the only reason I started liking Alec (Jace’s step-brother) because Magnus liked him and I wanted them to become a couple so bad. Isabelle, Alec’s sister, was arrogant but well with herself, so I will give her that.

I loved how the build up for the evil Valentine made me salivate to finally meet him. Which we do near the end of the book. I kind of respected him. He was so passionate about his cause, he even charmed people into following him even when they doubted his vision. He is a persuasive man, so I got it. Clary was never fooled by him though. She always saw his evil intent no matter his outer persona. I would be interested to read more about Valentine.

The writing was good when it came to descriptions and the action was awesome when it happened. The monsters were my favorite part, Clare held nothing back when creating them. The storyline was very interesting, it kept me reading.

The Bad
The whole time I read this book I felt like I was the wrong audience for it. Sure, I tend to like my new adult and adult books a little more, but some of my favorite books of all time are YA. But this YA felt so…young. The characters were immature and made stupid, reckless decisions that probably made me get a permanent comma line between my eyes.

I was bored for half the book. I found myself skimming. Even with 500 pages, I barley remember what happened. And I just finished this book hours ago. There was nothing really memorable, just mundane happenings with teen drama mixed in.

I found it hard to like any of the characters. Cary was okay but a little too whiny. Her priorities are pretty messed up too. First she is worried about finding her mom, then she becomes more focused on boys and jealousy of her competition. Jace was badass and cocky at first, which I loved, but then he got whiny and emotional and a little stupid.

Almost nothing is resolved by the end.

The Snuggly
We start out with a slow building romance between Clary and Jace. There is a little bit of a love triangle with her friend Simon, but Clary really ends up liking Jace a lot. Then this huge bombshell gets dropped and I felt like saying, “What the hell was the point of that!?” I am going to assume this bombshell is a lie but even so, what a stupid turn of events. It made me uncomfortable. But really, Jace and Clary (and Simon) are too immature to have a healthy relationship so maybe it’s for the best.

Final Thoughts
Still, I am conflicted with this book. I had an okay time reading it but once I turned the last page, I knew I wasn’t going to continue the series. I felt like I was constantly trying it push myself into liking it more because so many people recommended it to me. Like I said before, I see what the hype is about, but most of the magic of City of Bones just wasn’t enough for me. But I would recommend this book to YA, Fantasy/Urban Fantasy lovers overall.

I will be watching the movie coming out. Maybe I will like it better, who knows.

“Have you fallen in love with the wrong person yet?’
Jace said, “Unfortunately, Lady of the Haven, my one true love remains myself.”
…”At least,” she said, “you don’t have to worry about rejection, Jace Wayland.”
“Not necessarily. I turn myself down occasionally, just to keep it interesting.”  

“If you were half as funny as you think you are, you’d be twice as funny as you are now.”  

“Do you remember back at the hotel when you promised that if we lived, you’d get dressed up in a nurse’s outfit and give me a sponge bath?” asked Jace.
“It was Simon who promised you the sponge bath.”
“As soon as I’m back on my feet, handsome,” said Simon.
“I knew we should have left you a rat.”  

“Sarcasm is the last refuge of the imaginatively bankrupt.”  

“Can I help you with something?”
Clary turned instant traitor against her gender. “Those girls on the other side of the car are staring at you.”
Jace assumed an air of mellow gratification. “Of course they are,” he said, “I am stunningly attractive.”

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25 Responses to “Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare”

  1. Ashley

    Awesome review Jennifer! I agree with so much of what you said. Especially this line:

    “I had an okay time reading it but once I turned the last page, I knew I wasn’t going to continue the series. I felt like I was constantly trying it push myself into liking it more because so many people recommended it to me.”

    That was EXACTLY me. I didn’t exactly hate the book or anything, but I finished it and didn’t think it was anything really special and knew I wouldn’t keep reading it.

    I’ll be really curious to see how you like the movie. I probably won’t see it in theaters but I’m sure I’ll watch it when it comes out on blu-ray.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I am still conflicted with this book. It’s not bad, but the hype made me expect so much more.

      My friends are dying to watch the movie so I know I will see it soon after it comes out. I will let you know how it goes.

    • Pabkins

      Thank goodness I haven’t read this book! I doubt I’ll waste my time now. My friend that lives around the corner says “lets read it and watch the movie together.” and I don’t want to be rude and tell her I have no desire to pay to watch that movie….but I will just have to because I have heard nothing but awful things and I really don’t need to relive middle school via this book or the movie.

      Awesome review Jennifer – firm without being mean =)

  2. Sarah Elizabeth

    I can’t believe you didn’t want to read the next one after reading that cliff-hanger at the end of this one, I actually wanted to physically throw the book it annoyed me so much! This author’s books are all so looooong…. Love some of the funny lines though ☺

  3. ashleyrobertsonbooks

    Aren’t they making a movie of this? COB has been on my TBR for at least a year now and I still haven’t read it. After knowing how you and Ash feel about it I really not all that motivated to bump it up to my next read. Plus, I’ve been leaning more toward NA/Adult lately, needing that extra umph that YA leaves out. Great review. Thanks. ~AR

  4. Diantha Jones

    You said everything I said in my review, which was also 3 stars. The characters…OMG…they’re horrible. And yes, this book felt so juvenile. And that weird romance thing? Who puts teenagers in a situation like that? I read the next book City of Ashes…yeah, not much better. I’m about to start City of Glass but I have pretty low expectations. I have no idea what all the hype is about.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      So happy you agree. I felt like I was the only one. OMG, yes, those characters. UGH!! Then the romance, sooooo stupid. Happy to know the books don’t get any better so I don’t feel like I am missing out.

  5. elisa

    huh, I read COB a long time ago and have the others to read but just can’t seem to muster the desire. I almost need to reread the first, but I don’t want to. Maybe I should just jump into the second and see what happens.
    I agree, it was ok. The hype is too crazy but I did like the bad guy, though I can’t remember why anymore. 🙂

    • Jennifer Bielman

      LOL, cuz the bad guy is like the only interesting character. hehe

      I would jump into the next book because if you reread COB you might die of boredom. 🙂

  6. Trakena Prevost

    I agree with you on this one. I really enjoyed this book, until the bombshell you spoke of. I, too, had the same thought that it had to be a lie, because otherwise what would the point be, but it was too difficult for me to get over. I couldn’t quite get over Clary’s reaction to it either. That would have been the most effective cold shower in history for me, but for her it was a struggle. I don’t know, but those were my thoughts. Great review!

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Exactly, there would be no point. That bombshell has to be a lie. Sure, it causes drama but it so wasn’t needed. And yeah, Clary’s reaction irked me.

  7. Mia

    Hi Jennifer!

    You know what? You are not the only one torn with this book/series. I bought City of Bones a couple of years ago and it sat on my shelf for quite awhile. I would pick it up, start reading the first chapter and just could not seem to get into it! There were even a few times I considered giving it to one of my students, but for some reason it never happened.

    Then awhile back I saw the trailer for the movie and thought, okay, it’s either now or never. Let me give it one more shot. So I picked it up and I can honestly say, I’m glad I didn’t give up on it. I enjoyed it but you are totally right, I felt at times as if it was a bit on the juvenile side and wished it was a bit more edgy. Big fan of Jace and LOVE Magnus and girl, if you give book 2 a shot, you won’t be disappointed because Magnus has a bigger part. Not sure if you’ve had the chance to see the trailer, but OMG the guy who plays Magnus is pretty FINE.

    I think I am up to book 3 now (yeah, it’s weird because I enjoy the books, but like you said, nothing is truly memorable about them). The movie looks well made and I am surprisingly excited about it. I guess we shall see!

    Awesome review– you basically summed it up for me!

    Best Wishes,
    Mia @ The Muses Circle

    • Jennifer Bielman

      LOL, I only picked it up finally because of the movie too.

      I am excited about seeing Magnus now! I am almost tempted to pick up book 2 if there is more Magus but I am scared.

      I could see getting into the rest of the books but with so many great books to read out there, I don’t want to waste my time on mediocre. You know what I mean?

  8. Melissa (Books and Things)

    Sorry you didn’t enjoy it. I have it waiting on my tbr. I’ve also heard from others that they skimmed. Worries me a bit, but hopefully I’ll enjoy it. Brilly review. It helps me know what to expect. Perhaps then I won’t mind it as much. Maybe… 🙂

  9. Eternal Curse Series

    I agree with you, but I’m a little crazy about series especially ones that become movies. I read it and didn’t hate it. I too though it was a little immature, but I liked it taking that into consideration. I have this thing about starting and finishing series though, even though I have started a few I have no intention of finishing. Also I like reading books before movies have a chance to ruin them, so book 1 down. I’m in no hurry, but I’l get to the rest.

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