Tuesday, August 27, 2013

City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments Series, Book One, by Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare's City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments
Review by Sharon Powers.

This book is available in the usual formats: hardcover, paperback and on Kindle, and, of course, you can also read this book almost anywhere (computer, phone, tablet, etc.) if you download the free app from Amazon. Also note that the book is less expensive if you buy it for an e-reader or a Kindle device.

Who is the audience for this book? It is apparent that it is a urban fantasy series written for young adults. As a somewhat older reader, I have found find that young adults, in general, have a fresh approach to novels geared to them--they look at the stories with eyes that are not jaded or sometimes clouded with years of experience that would lead them to prejudge what they are reading. Young adults tend to know what they like, and are unabashedly happy to let you know what it is they enjoy. With this book, Cassandra Clare's City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments, an approach must be made taking the intended audience into consideration.

Up front, though, I have to acknowledge that the plot is predictable. It is a typical hero's journey where the hero/heroine must leave home (or is forcibly driven from their home), and encounters many obstacles on the way before they can return home, having found the sacred elixir (or, in this case, the Mortal Cup).

SYNOPSIS: A fifteen-year old girl, Clary Fray, and her friend, Simon, go to the Pandemonium Club for an evening's enjoyment. Two club patrons catch Clary's eye--a blue-haired boy being enticed by a beautiful young woman into a storage room. After the door closes, two young men appear near the door. One young man pulls out a long, sharp knife and then the two also enter the storage room. Clary gets her friend, Simon, to alert security while Clary enters the storage room. She hears talk of demons, monsters and sees the blue-haired boy struck down with the knife, black blood, and then the boy melting away into nothingness (just as the witch did when Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz movie, threw water on her.).

Simon arrives with security, but they don't see anyone other than Clary standing in the storage room. Clary realized that she was the only one who could see (Jace) the blonde-haired boy, (Alec) the dark-haired boy, and (Isabelle) the beautiful young woman in the white dress. Such is Clary's introduction into the world of the shadowhunters...a world where she is strangely attracted to the mysterious shadowhunter boy, Jace.

The next day, Clary's mother, Jocelyn Fray, disappears from their apartment. A demon appears and Clary fights and kills it, but is injured; Jace appears and takes her to the "Institute" for healing by one of the "silent brothers." It is then that Clary learns that she was born into a line of shadowhunters. On her birthday, Clary and Jace kiss, bringing more romantic tension into the story. Thereafter, Clary faces a series of obstacles to unblock her memory, learn to draw magical runes, find the mortal cup, get her mother back, and rescue her friend, Simon, who has been kidnapped by a group of vampires. Werewolves (good, of course) enter the story as Luke, friend of Clary's mother, reveals to Clary that Valentine (long thought dead--but who is now back) is her father; later Luke (with his pack of werewolves) comes to the rescue of Clary and her friends at the vampire's lair. Things get even more complicated when Valentine, the villain of the book, reveals that he is Jace's father--to her horror, Jace is now her brother! And, unfortunately, it is then that Valentine escapes to Idris with the Mortal Cup. Clary's mother is found in a coma and she is taken to the hospital.

Somehow, the shadowhunters will have to stop Valentine as he endeavors to get all three of the Mortal Instruments (the cup, the sword, and the mirror). Having all three instruments would give him the power to make his own evil shadowhunter army.

MY VIEW: So, since I've already acknowledged that the plot is predictable, that some of the characters are cookie cutter-like, and even poked fun at the fact that sometimes the story seems like a cross between Harry Potter and Star Wars, what is it that is good about Cassandra Clare's story?

Well, first, I find it hard to resist a strong female in the lead of a book. Here, Clary is the heroine that walks the hero's journey. As a female, I like seeing strong female leads in the collective mythos where traditionally men were the only ones to walk the hero's quest. I've been happy to see more and more books coming out where the hero is the heroine. Yeah, us!

The other thing is, I'm a sucker for action. I love action sequences and tend to enjoy thoroughly those books that include chunks of action to get the story moving. I love seeing sword play or physical confrontations where a lot is going on in the story. I like the pace picking up and really getting to feel the momentum of the actors going through their paces. One scene like this is where the werewolves help to rescue Clary, Simon and the others from the vampires--things are so chaotic in the fighting that Clary thinks a werewolf is one of her enemies, and wielding her knife, she stabs a werewolf, someone actually on her side. Humorously, the werewolf later returns the knife and Clary apologizes for stabbing him.

Cassandra Clare also really kept the romantic tension going among the characters--shifting likes and dislikes, misunderstandings and reunions. Jace and Clary, for instance, develop a real like/love (?) for each other only to have their romantic hopes dashed when they find out they are siblings (or are they?). We also see Luke's unresolved love for Jocelyn--he hangs around and shows fatherly care toward Clary, but yet hasn't told Jocelyn he loves her...will he? Magnus Bane (a warlock who says he doesn't like shadowhunters, but constantly helps them) is very attracted to Alec. Alec is attracted to Jace (initially in the book), and Alec's sister, Isabelle, is being looked at "dreamy-eyed" by Simon--who by the way, is really in love with his best friend, Clary. And, of course, the evil Valentine still has a thing for Jocelyn after all these years...and after she went and "betrayed" him, too. Hmmm. Should we say evil stalker?

CONCLUSION: If you can suspend your disbelief in magic and runes and fantastical creatures like werewolves and vampires, if you love action, romance and a heroine to save the day, then City of Bones, The Mortal Instruments, Book 1 may be the urban fantasy book for you. If you dislike evil villains, demon hunters, werewolves and vampires or warlocks, violence and blood, don't read it.


As for me, this was a very easy book to rate. I choose, read it--I rate it 4.0 Stars out of 5.

Amazon Readers rated it 4.1 stars out of 5 (out of 1,697 Reviewers)
Good Reads Readers: 4.1 stars out of 5 (381,079 Reviewers)
Love Vampires Readers: 4.0 stars out of 5 (unknown no.)
Google Books Readers: 4.0 stars out of 5 (224 Reviewers)
Barnes & Noble Readers: 4.3 stars out of 5 (4,937 Reviewers)

ADDITIONAL INFO.--FROM BOOK TO THE BIGSCREEN: I love it when a book goes to the big screen. I just salivate at the thought of being able to compare the book to the screen writer's and director's version of the printed page. Just for fun, I have included, here, a trailer of the newly released movie, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones for you to enjoy.

Until next time...many happy pages of reading.

Sharon Powers.

http://www.amazon.com/City-Bones-Mortal-Instruments-Book/dp/1416955070/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377615463&sr=8-1&keywords=City+of+Bones image from Amazon; http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0083PWAPW/ref=amb_link_382086282_2?ie=UTF8&nav_sdd=aps&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-1&pf_rd_r=1PDK10XDJGTW9VAKC78X&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1607668842&pf_rd_i=507846 Kindle device;https://www.google.com/search?q=The+Mortal+Cup&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=jBwdUs2KI-azigKDloHgBg&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1222&bih=910#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=2dViEnEfBIrPUM%3A%3BWZ4Ssgq8oEng2M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252F4.bp.blogspot.com%252F-pQkPMMUg-5c%252FUag8I06eQCI%252FAAAAAAAABhw%252FLDI31Mn_ceo%252Fs320%252Fthe%252Bmortal%252Bcup.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.themortalinstrumentsinmovies.com%252F2013%252F05%252Fizzys-whip-mortal-cup-ruby-pendant.html%3B500%3B250 The Mortal Cup; http://www.amazon.com/Wizard-Oz-75th-Anniversary/dp/B00CNW9ZI6/ref=sr_1_3?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1377627679&sr=1-3&keywords=wizard+of+oz The Wizard of Oz DVD; https://www.google.com/search?q=city+of+bones+mortal+cup&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=RiQdUsCqNuTXigKWjoCAAQ&sqi=2&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1222&bih=867#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=q1thr1ra1INFrM%3A%3B_NkW6sO_KFcA2M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252F24.media.tumblr.com%252Ftumblr_mdnbshEIbF1r9jpgoo1_500.png%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.tumblr.com%252Ftagged%252Face-of-cups%3B500%3B580 The Ace of Cups; https://www.google.com/search?q=Pandamonium+club&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.51470160,d.cGE,pv.xjs.s.en_US.4lhx30YK4AM.O&biw=1222&bih=867&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=SR0dUrWKDInMiQLPkIGYCw#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=15P7oGFuoUbtGM%3A%3B4AcOZGSjTqTFZM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fimages.onesite.com%252Fpulseit.com%252F%252Fbdfd5735b1446de9631ee43d64786cb7.jpg%253Fv%253D252900%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.pulseit.com%252Fgo%252Farticle%252Fview%252Fevents%252F263373%252Fmovie_vs._book%253A_the_pandemonium_club%3B562%3B450 Pandemonium Club image; http://collider.com/wp-content/uploads/the-mortal-instruments-city-of-bones-lily-collins-jamie-campbell-bower.jpg Jace & Clary; http://www.amazon.com/City-Bones-Mortal-Instruments-Book/dp/1416955070/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top Reviews; http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/256683.City_of_Bones Reviews; http://www.lovevampires.com/cclcityofbones.html Love Vampires Reviews; http://books.google.com/books/about/City_of_Bones.html?id=UwH5IwTWH3EC Google Readers Reviews;https://www.google.com/search?q=5+stars&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&biw=1222&bih=867&bvm=pv.xjs.s.en_US.4lhx30YK4AM.O&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=-yodUunMA6H6iwLe_oC4CQ#fp=13d6aa3a7d487f41&hl=en&q=four+stars+out+of+5&tbm=isch&um=1&facrc=_&imgrc=RADPdsYMm2jXEM%3A%3BzppKiqDQJ50CXM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fbooksnooks.files.wordpress.com%252F2012%252F07%252Fstar-four-11-jpg.png%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fbooksnooks.wordpress.com%252F%3B3000%3B700 Star Rating;  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/city-of-bones-cassandra-clare/1100329400?ean=9781416955078&itm=2&usri=city+of+boneshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGFk2qpOxqU Trailer--City of Bones.