Thursday, October 8, 2009 By: Suzanne

City of Bones

I discovered Cassandra Clare's City of Bones at Target one day by accident. I had been in the book store the day before feeling just plain frustrated by the lack of anything new in the fantasy section. Oh, there's plenty of new released stuff but it's simply the same old tired ideas recycled with a new cover. So, in frustration I just picked up American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I read it several years ago and loved it but I was in my internship at the time and have forgotten more than I remember. Then the next day I forgot to take it with me to work. On Thursdays I have a 2 hour break right in the middle of the day. So off I went to Target (because the stupid town of Weatherford, where I work, doesn't have a bookstore!) and again found myself standing in front of the books with frustration growing. I turned to look at the Young Adult section and the cover of this book leapt out at me. It actually sounded interesting in way that nothing else did. I haven't read a Young Adult book since the Twilight disaster but I thought I'd give this a chance.

From the back cover:
When 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 odd markings. This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons - and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It's also her first meeting with the gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within 24 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 an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhumters would like to know.

I have to admit I was probably attracted to this for a reason that should have been obvious to me but I didn't even notice until Andrea pointed it out - it sounds a little like Buffy. I guess from the demon-hunting aspect it does a little, but as I read this book it occurred to me it was a lot more like Harry Potter in some parts of the plot line and then even more like Star Wars (Clary in the role of Luke). In fact, I would have to say the parts that originally made me think Harry Potter are the same parts that are major themes in Star Wars. Some of the book was fairly predictable. All the big "AH-HA!" moments were more like "ummm, yeah I saw that coming" moments. I kept thinking, "why don't these kids who are supposed to be so intelligent see what's happening?" but I had to remind myself that they are teenagers who for the most part still believe the major adults in their lives and even though these ideas are fairly common in literature and movies, for someone to automatically leap to the conclusion that someone they've spent years with might betray them or someone they thought long dead will not actually be would be ridiculous leaps of imagination for us to make in real life. And truly, if it wasn't for Star Wars in the first place would I have predicted these things? Well, maybe...After all, George Lucas based the themes in Star Wars on the writings of Joseph Campbell, another of my favorite people.

So, ok, even with the predictability and allusions to Luke Skywalker, I really liked this book. Clary is a strong female character, which is refreshing. I was so irritated by the Twilight series (yes, I'm going to keep bring that up every chance I can) and I was beginning to fear that teenage girls around the world would see this spineless, half-person that is Bella as a role model. Clary is strong and she has a mind of her own. She also has interests outside of that of any man in her life, and she doesn't drop them simply because she's with someone else. In fact, while this book has some elements of "oohh, what's going to happen in Clary's love life?" it's not an important issue in the story. She just doesn't spend all that much time thinking about it. She has her moments, of course, she is a 15 year old girl, but her whole being doesn't revolve around trying to be with a boy, like it did for Bella.

Another plus is that Cassandra Clare is simply a good writer. Even though this is a Young Adult book, I didn't feel she was talking down to her audience. She doesn't repeat herself as if she believes her audience is too stupid to remember when she said that earlier in the book. Is it possible to write a book like this without being so predictable? I don't know, I've never done it, but maybe. Is it possible to take known themes and present them in a fresh and interesting way? Now I know it is.


Jackie said...

I have CIty of Bones and CIty of Ashes but hadn't really read anyone else's reviews on them so far. If it's similar to Buffy, I'm sure I'll like them! Thanks for the review.