“It’s all right, Mom. I’m fine. I’m on my way home-“
“No!” Terror scraped Jocelyn’s voice raw. “Don’t come home! Do you understand me Clary? Don’t you dare come home.’
I know that the Mortal Instruments books are incredibly popular, but I’ll admit, I’ve been avoiding them for ages! The first I heard about them was the release of the movie trailer, and it completely put me off. It just looked so cheesy! I was further discouraged when I found out a little more about the plot, as it kind of seemed like every overdone YA cliché had been shoved into the one book: vampires, werewolves, an ‘I’m not pretty but really I am’ heroine, a ridiculously handsome love interest, a friend-zoned comic best friend called Jaco- I mean Simon, a secret society separate from ordinary people (who are known as Mundanes AKA Muggles) and what to me is the cardinal sin of YA fiction – the dreaded love triangle.
However, to my surprise, I actually quite enjoyed this book!
The story starts with Clary Fray and her best friend Simon at a club, where Clary seems to be able to see something no one else can: three tattooed teenagers killing another, the body then vanishing without a trace. When her mother disappears the following day, and Clary is attacked by a demon in her own apartment, she finds herself unwillingly drawn into the darker underworld of New York and her mother’s secret past as a Shadowhunter (someone who hunts and kills demons, in case you were wondering!). She sets out to find her with the help of Jace Wayland and his fellow Shadowhunters Isabelle and her brother Alec, and begins to learn one or two things about her own secret past along the way…
The first thing that surprised me about this book was the characters. Whilst they did adhere to certain types, like the aforementioned ‘pretty but doesn’t know it’ heroine, handsome love interest and friend-zoned best friend, it wasn’t glaringly obvious whilst you were reading it, which I think largely was due to the dialogue. I don’t usually notice dialogue too much unless it’s really bad, but here I noticed it because it was pretty good! The banter between characters made what could have been flat stereotypes believable, and I liked the relationships in the book; the teasing between Clary and Simon and Clary and Jace, the hostility between her and Alec (and at times Isabelle), and her almost father-daughter relationship with her mother’s friend Luke.
I also liked the world of City of Bones, in which the Shadowhunters and Downworlders (demons, werewolves, vampires, warlocks etc.) are a little known part of everyday New York, and have their own bars and restaurants, throw parties and ride the subway. I also liked that Cassandra Clare had put a bit of a new spin on some now rather overused creatures. For example I liked her version of vampires: they can fly and ride motorbikes which run on demon energy – now that’s different! The superior attitude of the Shadowhunters to the Downworlders also added an interesting element of conflict to the world of the book.
As for that love triangle I was dreading…well, I certainly didn’t see the resolution coming! I’ll give the book that…the whole ‘Jace may be Clary’s brother’ revelation was icky, but definitely not predictable! And with one member of the love triangle thoroughly ruled out, where does that leave Simon? Still friend-zoned by the looks of it! Although I have a bit of a hunch that Clary and Jace aren’t actually brother and sister, but I guess I will have to read the rest of the series to find out. Too much effort seems to have gone into the building of their relationship and the chemistry between them to have to then completely change its parameters to that of brother and sister.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I will admit that I had expected a bit of a Twilight rehash, but this was nothing of the sort! Whilst the plot (heroine discovers secret underground world full of supernatural creatures) isn’t exactly original, the world of City of Bones was exciting and inventive, and the characters were for the most part believable and likable, and the ending definitely surprised me!