DCW502 Writing and Contemporary Practice

Heroine role model but….-A City of Bones Review

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
By Cassandra Clare
Walker books.
541pp. $22.99 NZD
Rating: ★ ★

City of Bones is a young adult novel set in New York City in 2007. The story follows fifteen-year-old Clarissa (Clary) Fray. The story starts simple enough, Clary and her best friend Simon Lewis are out celebrating Clary’s birthday at the Pandemonium club, until she finds herself the only witness to a murder that is committed by three teenagers who are covered in strange tattoos and carrying bizarre weapons and to top it off, she is the only one who can see them.

Within twenty-four hours Clary is swept up into the world of Shadowhunter’s, half angel, half human warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons when her mother suddenly goes missing and Clary finds herself being attacked by a demon.

The reason this book caught my attention was mainly that of the initial hype around it. I was drawn in by the idea of half angel – half human warriors. It was such a different concept and unlike anything I had read previously.

I will commend Cassandra Clare on the fact that there are a lot of underlying issues that the novel contains, such as blood purity and racial segregation. Many of the Shadowhunter’s consider themselves better than the downworlders who are for all intents and purposes half breeds, half human and half demon. Downworlders are set into four races, vampires, werewolves, fairies and warlocks. The novel also contains explicit violence and semi-violent torture scenes, subjects that should not be taken lightly by weak-stomached readers.

In terms of the writing, it’s somewhat evenly pace, at times some of the scenes drag a bit, especially in scenes where Clary is describing how Jace looks which can be quite frustrating. Romance is not a genre I overly enjoy and so sitting there and reading through four long paragraphs that detail how Jace’s hair looks and feels, had me wanting to fling the book across the room.

Some of the characters are complex and emotionally driven towards their goals which makes for at times a surprising story, but not all of the characters were enjoyable to read, which let this novel down.

Even though Clare’s intention was to write a novel about a strong heroine, for me, she missed the mark. Clary Fray comes across as a whiny child. If at first, she doesn’t get her way, she’ll do it anyway and then complain about the fact that she’s being yelled at. Her actions have consequences which she doesn’t seem to realise and even once others are punished because of something she has done, she flicks her hair, whines some more and carries on. I found myself praying that she would get stabbed by another character so that I would be put out of my misery.

I can see and appreciate what Clare was trying to achieve and overall, I loved the world she created and some of the background characters were powerfully written with intricate histories, but her main character let the novel down. I was disappointed by the fact that I just couldn’t love this book the way I wanted to. I’m afraid that the book fell off the deep end for me.

I’m not overly keen to pick up something else written by Clare at the moment. If I had picked this book up a few years ago when I was still a teenager I would have been in love with it. City of bones is one of those books where you need the right audience, if you are a young woman wanting to read something empowering, this could be your kind of book, but if you’re slightly older and can’t stand overly dramatic heroin’s, I would advise not to pick this up.


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