Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Barest Bones of a Story

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. Book One in The Mortal Instruments series

Clary is a fifteen year old whose world has just flipped on its side. She sees a murder of something not human by three teens who no one else can see except herself. Then a day later, her mother is kidnapped and Clary is attacked by a demon. Suddenly, her eyes are opened to a world that was hidden to her from birth: the world of the Clave, Shadowhunters who are descended from angels to protect humans from demons. She meets Jace, a mysterious Shadowhunter with golden locks, who brings her into his world and helps her find her mother, who has been stolen by Valentine, a Nazi-esque ex-Shadowhunter.

The plot is a rich one, kind of Constantine-esque (the movie with Keanu Reeves). I wanted to read the book when I found out it is being made into a movie. There’s a lot to build on in this plot: God versus Satan, the ultimate good versus evil, creepy and frightening creatures, and a world that encompasses so many aspects of the supernatural. This is a plot that keeps moving and keeps you interested. I completely understand why the book is popular.

However, I didn’t feel attracted or sympathetic with any of the characters. They were so 2D. There was nothing that felt real about them.  As in a lot of YA novels, their emotions were so overly dramatic and their characteristics were stereotypical. The mysterious, hot guy who tries to shut out the world until the main character comes around. O wait he’s sarcastic. Who would have guessed!? The girl who’s artistic and doesn’t feel like she really belongs…because she doesn’t! Wow. Revolutionary!  The main guy, Jace, is the mysterious warrior man, but upon meeting Clary, our main character, he just starts telling her about this secret world. REALLY!!?? If he’s so secretive why is he doling out this information to a complete stranger? It feels like it’s going against the character’s personality and against the underworld society.

I had other troubles with the two big reveals in the plot, which weirded me out, and I saw coming from a mile away, along with the fact that the author pretty much shoved any sort of religion to the side. She wrote a book about angels and demons, essentially, but didn’t want to touch on religion? That just seems silly to me. You can’t have your cake and eat it too Ms. Clare.

I’ll give Clare props for putting out a bestselling first novel, but that’s about it. My coworker tells me Clare’s “Immortal Instruments” series is much better, and after giving myself some time away from this genre, I think I’ll give her other series a read. I know many people love this series. People also enjoy bathroom humor. It has its audience, but it’s certainly not polished or thoughtful.

If you did like this book, or if the subject matter interests you, do try Clare’s “Infernal Devices” series for which, Clockwork Angel is the first. This series involves different characters from the Victorian era, but still stays within the same universe as “The Mortal Instruments” series. If you like urban fantasy, try the House of Night series by PC and Kristin Clark. It’s about teenage vampires who have to go to a school to train to become adult vampires. 

~Kristin M.

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