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City of Bones (Mortal Instruments) Hardcover – March 27, 2007

3,921 customer reviews
Book 1 of 6 in the Mortal Instruments Series

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The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
"The Mortal Instruments" by Cassandra Clare
All six books in the #1 New York Times best-selling Mortal Instruments series, now available in a collectible paperback boxed set. Learn more | See related books
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This Buffy-esque YA novel does not translate well to the audio medium, and part of the problem lies in the story's pacing. Teenager Clary discovers she can see supernatural beings that no one else can, gets drawn into the world of the Shadowhunters (teens who kill demons and monsters) and learns that her mother is somehow mysteriously connected to all the strange happenings around her. As a result, a good chunk of the novel consists of long explanatory passages, as various characters fill Clary in on supernatural creatures, the history and rules of the Shadowhunters and her mother's entanglements—all of which come across as tedious lectures. In addition, narrator Graynor makes almost no attempt to differentiate the various teen characters' voices. Only the minor character Dorothea, played as a faux witch with a gravelly New York accent, is memorable. Graynor also frequently ignores the author's explicit textual directives, such as [Simon] came back, sounding worried or The tone of arrogant superiority was back in [Jace's] voice, for her performance, making this a program with an intriguing premise and cast but disappointing execution. Ages 14-up. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–When Clary Fray witnesses three tattoo-covered teenagers murder another teen, she is unable to prove the crime because the victim disappears right in front of her eyes, and no one else can see the killers. She learns that the teens are Shadowhunters (humans who hunt and kill demons), and Clary, a mundie (i.e., mundane human), should not be able to see them either. Shortly after this discovery, her mother, Jocelyn, an erstwhile Shadowhunter, is kidnapped. Jocelyn is the only person who knows the whereabouts of The Mortal Cup, a dangerous magical item that turns humans into Shadowhunters. Clary must find the cup and keep it from a renegade sector of Shadowhunters bent on eliminating all nonhumans, including benevolent werewolves and friendly vampires. Amid motorcycles powered by demon energies, a telepathic brotherhood of archivists, and other moments of great urban fantasy, the story gets sidetracked by cutesy touches, like the toasted bat sandwich on the menu of an otherworldly restaurant. The characters are sporadically characterized and tend toward behavior that is both predictable and slightly repellent–Clary finds out who her real father is about 200 pages after readers will have it figured out. Despite the narrative flaws, this version of New York, full of Buffyesque teens who are trying to save the world, is entertaining and will have fantasy readers anxiously awaiting the next book in the series.–Heather M. Campbell, Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: Mortal Instruments (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; First Edition edition (March 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416914285
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416914280
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,921 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Cassandra Clare is the author of City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. She was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of books. Cassandra lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend, their two cats, and these days, even more books.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#96 Overall (See top 100 authors)
#11 in Books > Teens
#96 in Books
#11 in Books > Teens
#96 in Books

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,052 of 1,247 people found the following review helpful By dreamsend on November 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
This review was written for my blog, so the hyperlinks and strikethrough text got erased when I posted it here, but I think you get the gist.
I'm finally getting around to reading Cassandra Clare's City of Bones (first book in the "Mortal Instruments" series) and I have so many conflicted feelings about it, I'm actually having a hard time just reading it. Nevertheless, this post is actually a review of City of Bones. IT HAS SOME SPOILERS. Not that there's much to spoil.

First of all, I've been familiar with Cassandra Clare's work for quite a few years now...of course, what I mean is that like thousands of other people, I knew her from her LOTR and Harry Potter fanfiction days, under the penname "Cassandra Claire." She would probably be the most stellar example of what's known as a BNF, or a Big Name Fan. She wrote the "Very Secret Dairies" for LOTR and the "Draco Trilogy" (Draco Dormiens, Sinister, and Veritas) for Harry Potter. They've been translated into various languages and most likely if you read any Harry Potter fanfiction at all, you've probably heard of Cassandra Clare. Unsurprisingly, there was also some controversy and accusations of plagiarism involved, since she paraphrased or "forgot to cite" a lot of phrases and quotes that she used in her stories, which she'd taken from other famous works/fandoms. You can read all about it at her very own Fanlore page <here>. As I recall, she may or may not have been gifted a laptop by fans when hers was stolen - though this is apparently one of the myths that got deleted off websites like Fanlore.

Anyway, all this is just background context, but it's important context, and you'll see why.
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168 of 204 people found the following review helpful By Jeronimo on May 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First, a word about the rating. This deserves five stars for understanding its audience and delivering exactly what that audience wants to see. This deserves one star for its execution and style. So I gave it three.

Cassandra Clare understands teenagers. She knows what they want: ordinary heroines with a special destiny, attractive, caustic boys with a burning urge to protect said heroines, love triangles, monsters, magic, and so much more. She gets teenagers in a way that few of her YA compatriots do, and for that she deserves all of her success.

As an author, however, she is middling. City of Bones, her first novel, is embarrassingly purple and overlong. It succeeds in understanding its core demographic, in creating an interesting mythology, and in constructing a couple of very memorable characters (Magnus Bane, etc.) It fails in its language, its style, which careens from painfully hipper-than-thou to melodramatic and back again, and its two leads.

Quick word about the story: this is the tale of sixteen year old Clary Fray, an ordinary girl who one night stumbles upon a group of Shadowhunters, demon killers if you will, as they dispatch a hellspawn. Before long, she and her best friend Simon are on the run with the Shadowhunters, including closeted Alec, haughty Isabelle, and the dreamiest dreamboat snarky angel tortured soul Adonis wot is dreamy, Jace. Clary runs around with these folks looking for her kidnapped mother, discovers a world of supernatural creatures and a surprising heritage she never suspected, and engages in a 'love triangle' that holds no tension because we know whom she'll pick. Though there is a nice twist at the end. More on that later.

The good: I felt like a teenager again while reading this.
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535 of 679 people found the following review helpful By M. on March 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In an underage Goth club where kids openly are handing out pills without fear of conveniently missing bouncers, the "shy" fifteen-year-old NYC native Clary charges unarmed and alone into a confrontation where strangers with knives are trying to kill each other, where she intends to stop them by talking them down. Some may call this suicidal; the reader is supposed to see it as heroic. This scene is exemplary of what you're getting into if you pick this book up.

This isn't Clary's first stupid action: she makes a habit of putting herself in harm's way by doing things she has little or no reason to, especially when there's others around telling her to stop. Other characters also do unreasonable things, if only to further the plot. A character is caught hiding in someone's bushes because he decided THEY were suspicious while he was sneaking around their house, but never gives a reason for his initial trespassing. He later drinks a magical potion with unknown effects for no good reason whatsoever, despite having someone who'd know better at his side telling him not to.

The book has no sense of continuity. Characters' eye colors, voices, abilities, and builds change, sometimes within paragraphs of their initial descriptions. (Clary's mother goes from "compact" to "tall and willowy" in paragraphs on page 24; Madame Dorothea's voice goes from familiarly "shrill" to familiarly "gravelly" on page 95; Alec's eyes go from blue to black and back again throughout the course of the book; Isabelle's skin is as "unblemished as the surface of a bowl of cream" on page 58, but all Shadowhunters are later described as covered in scars from their Marks.
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