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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