Sunday, October 30, 2011

City of Bones

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.

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

So sue me, but I still enjoy this series.
And it's not like how I was with Hush, Hush, where I hated it but it kept me interested. No, these books, while I do strongly dislike certain aspects, still entertain me. I still like reading them, and am invested in the story.  Did Cassie Clare plagiarize? Yes. Are they quality literature? Hell no. But they're fun to read. You could call this series my guilty pleasure, I guess.

Cassie Clare's writing . . . what to say about Cassie Clare's writing. I think I'm going to start with the negatives, because I'd like to get them out there.
The. Fucking. Similes.
I'm sorry for those of  you who don't like cursing, I really do apologize, but it was necessary.
The similes.
Those of you who know me know that I am a fan of pretty writing, figurative language, all that good stuff.  But Clare didn't just overuse similes. Oh no.  She spat out simile after simile until they were practically shat upon the page.
Sorry for the mental image, but it's just the truth.
And while some of the similes were good ones, some of them just made no sense whatsoever. And I couldn't even appreciate the good ones after a while because there were just so many.  Flip to any given page in CoB and I guarantee you that you will find a simile there.
Sometimes, Clare had good descriptions. It's true.  But then there were some descriptions that she just used over. And over. And over. And so on.  There were a lot of them, but the biggest ones were probably "glittering" smile and a wolf's "brindled" fur. I feel like she's the opposite of SMeyer in this case; she just couldn't find a thesaurus, whereas SMeyer sort of abused it.
On the one hand, Clare is very good at snappy one-liners and witty responses, as well as good, dramatic lines that can be remembered later on.  What she's not so good at is realistic dialogue.  I just couldn't imagine real teenagers saying 3/4 of the things they said.  The wording was way too sophisticated, and no one is that witty all the time without preparation. 
Still, I will admit that I do like some of her lines quite a bit. Mostly the ones by Jace and Magnus.
Now, I'm not even getting into the whole plagiarism issue. I know certain parts of this are plagiarized, and I don't know which parts, so I'm just . . . yeah. If you're curious, just look it up.
However, the good, the good can be summarized in one sentence: Cassie Clare knows how to tell a story.  Say what you want about her, but she knows how to tell a story and keep you interested and invested in it while she does.  This book didn't bore me, and I did want to keep reading.  And readability, that's an important quality in a book.

So, overall?  There are some serious flaws in the writing, but it moves the story along.

I feel like Clare got it right with every character . . . except her main one and her one main guy. Which puzzles me.
I loved Alec.  I loved that she didn't make him the typical flamboyant gay, and I loved his awkwardness, and his earnestness, and his protectiveness. I loved him, and I was cheering for him when he got pissed at Clary.
I loved Luke.  He isn't perfect, but he's sweet and protective and absent-minded and nerdy and badass and just a really cool guy. I'd love to have him as my pseudo-father.  I don't think Clary realizes just how LUCKY she is to have him.
I loved, loved, loved, loved, loved Magnus.  He just never fails to make me laugh, and despite his flamboyance and sarcasm, he actually does have layers to his personality and character. I adore him.
I . . . was not a fan of Simon. There were some of his lines that I did really like, but he, as a character, was just way too whiny and useless for my taste.  He'd never even told Clary how he felt before (although, granted, she should have REALIZED some time in the past ten years), so he didn't really have the right to get all pissy about her and Jace. I don't know. He just bugged me.
And then, Clary. Our lovely narrator. I will grant you that there were some times that I liked her.  I actually liked her from about the Renwick battle scene to the end.  But for the majority of the novel, I loathed her, because she is, quite plainly, a whiny, ungrateful bitch.  She slaps Jace for saving her life. She yells at people . . . for saving her life.  She shouts at and belittles everyone and never considers that her problems are at least partly her fault.  I can't even count the amount of times that something along the lines of "Rage flowed through her veins" appeared in the book, because Clary just gets enraged quite a bit.
Like I said, there were some times that I liked her, but she really frustrated me for the most part.
Lastly, Jace.
I know some people hate Jace, say that he's too rude or too insensitive or too perfect or whatnot. But if we're being honest, I love Jace.  Yes, he can be rude, and yes, he is very sarcastic, and yes, he is very hard and contained, but if you were raised by a man like his father for the first ten years of your life, you probably wouldn't be a whole lot better.  And beneath the snarkiness and stoicism, there was a vulnerability to Jace that really made me love him.  He had been taught not to be vulnerable, so he tried to quell it, but it was there, and I loved that.

Overall? Some characters were fantastic, some were terrible, so overall I guess it just sort of . . .evens out.

There are some things about the plot that I liked, and some that I didn't.
This plot engaged me.  It made me want to keep reading. I know it isn't wholly original, but I still wanted to find out what was going on(and considering this is a reread, the fact that this still held my attention that much is even more impressive).  I think that something Clare is very talented at is crafting a plot that fits together and is paced well and has just enough twists and turns.
However--one of my big problems was Simon and Clary.
DEAR FREAKING LORD, CLARY.  What is it with you stupid, naive YA narrators? The boy has been your best friend for ten years and you never once realized that he's in love with you? How DUMB are you?
But. Anyway.
Some parts of this did seem rather contrived, and some parts were not very realistic(obviously, since it's an urban fantasy, it won't be realistic in THAT way, but even in fantasy you have to realize that people still act like people). And the one fragment in Jace's POV bugged me, because it was the only instance of his POV in the whole book. And it was not necessary. I think Clare put it there to explain his previous actions and make the reader not too angry at Jace for what he said, or maybe she was trying to ease us into his POV that would be appearing in the next books, but in either case, I think she should have just left it out.
Overall, though, even if it's unoriginal, I like the plot of this book.

Like I said: guilty pleasure. These books are nowhere near perfect, and Clare is a plagiarist, but I still do enjoy reading them.  
3 stars.



Gwen Cole

The only reason I read these books is because of Jace, LOL :P


I read them because of Jace and Magnus, for the most part. Despite acknowledging that these are not quality literature, I'm still able to enjoy reading them because of those guys.

Zoey @ Uncreatively Zoey

Hey, I would have slapped Jace, too. He wasn't entirely sure she was a shadowhunter. He could have killed her :P


Gosh, it's been so long since I read those books. O_o


Zoey: But what they say LATER in the book is that apparently one rune would only burn a mundane's skin, not kill them or turn them into a Forsaken. (; So he risked giving her a little burn to save her life. Boo hoo.

Kelly: Maybe you should reread them. :D

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