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April 24, 2009

Book Review: City of Bones

This Extra Ink was written by Teen Ink blogger Megan M.

Extra Ink now brings you the first in a series of book, music, movie and tech reviews, all sprinkled in with your usual dose of advice and website recommendations. Check out TeenInk.com for teen-written reviews of all your favorite things. Enjoy!

Sometimes I choose to read a book because it has been recommended to me by friends or

received positive reviews, and sometimes I choose to read one simply because it has a

shiny cover. City of Bones, the first novel in Cassandra Clare's Moral Instruments

trilogy, fell into both categories.

Fifteen-year-old Clary Fray is a mundane, which means she doesn't know anything about

demons or Shadowhunters - until she stumbles into the middle of a confrontation between

them in a dance club. At first, she is reluctant to admit that she saw anything at all.

Then her mother vanishes, she gets attacked by a demon, and a group of teenage

Shadowhunters shows her that magic, werewolves, and vampires are real. Soon Clary is

swept up in their quest to find the Mortal Cup (a powerful object that can be used to

make more Shadowhunters) and rescue her mother - the only person who knows where it is -

before errant Shadowhunter Valentine can use it for his own ends.

All in all, the world of City of Bones (Manhattan, but with subtle alterations that

mundane humans cannot see) is innovative and engrossing, with clever details - like bat

sandwiches and flying motorcycles that work on demon energies - and plenty of action

sequences to keep readers engaged. While City of Bones avoids the worn

teen-girl-meets-hot-supernatural-boy trope, there is a hint of romance between Clary and

both her childhood friend, Simon, and the sarcastic, distant Shadowhunter, Jace, which

adds a welcome dimension to the plot.

Like any novel, however, City of Bones has its flaws. In their eagerness to share the

details of their world with Clary (and the reader), the Shadowhunters have a tendency to

launch into long speeches that reveal far more than is necessary for the plot and slow

down the pace of the story to the point where vital tension is lost. While the main teen

characters all have believable voices, the adults begin to blend together, becoming

either evil minions or clueless and overprotective guardians. There seem to be few moral

shades of grey - people are either good or evil, even if they turn out to have a

different allegiance than we were originally led to believe (something that happens with

dizzying frequency). Though other characters are hurt, Clary rarely seems to be in any

real danger - solutions to problems come to her with little or no effort on her part.

Despite these weaker areas, I found City of Bones to be a quick and mostly satisfying

read. I have heard that Cassandra Clare truly finds her "voice" in the later books of the

trilogy, and I am excited to see how she continues to flesh out the unique and quirky

world she has created.

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