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Customer Review

172 of 233 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Light, Fun, but not a Keeper, March 28, 2007
This review is from: City of Bones (Mortal Instruments) (Hardcover)
While I won't go so far as to nitpick Clare's creative (sometimes too creative) use of adjectives, I do have some critiques of this book. If you've read the fanfiction, you'll be well-prepared for this novel, and in fact you'll have fun recognizing some of your favorite characters back, thinly veiled. This is actually Clare at her best, lots of improbable but fun dialogue, good pacing for once, no long dragged out subplots that make the reader forget what the main plot is, with bits that make the reader laugh aloud (at least me). I read the story straight through, and I enjoyed it. I even bought it after telling myself I wasn't going to. It is the kind of book that you binge on, read in one go and enjoy.

However, there were things that really bugged me.

1. Self-referencing. Two things that jerked me out of the narrative were the use of the word 'asshat' which is widely used now, but not so widely used that I think it's a coincidence it's in this book, and giving Luke a 'Still Not King' bumper sticker, also fairly common, but still in-jokey. I suppose if the reader hasn't read anything else of Clare's, they wouldn't notice, but I don't look at that and feel superior for knowing the joke, I feel irritated with the author for waving at her friends instead of writing the story.

2. It's a soap opera. Admittedly, an enjoyable one, but the story is all drama and passion and twists, and not all that much character development, or even consistent characterization. I sincerely doubt a girl who refers to herself as 'shy' would slap a guy she barely knows who saved her life, and then make out with a near stranger. Not really shy actions. Jace, too, is uneven. Isabelle's fanfic alter ego was one of the most fun parts of Cassie's fanfic, so I enjoyed her, and I think she has fairly good characterization, but I didn't feel like there was a lot of real character development. Sure, they learned things, and supposedly changed, but Alec is the only one who appears to grow.

3. It's derivative. This story is like the happy offspring of Harry Potter, Uglies, Inksheart, Star Wars, with Lord of the Rings as a distant cousin and Buffy as the down the street neighbor. It does combine some of the better elements--friends, a knowledge of occult mythology, sectarian groups and violence, fun villains who may or may not be related to you, etc--but that doesn't mean it's original. You take lots of strikingly beautiful things and blend them together to come up with something generically pretty.

Valentine reminded me of Capricorn the entire book, and he only made an appearance at the end. For readers of Clare's fanfic series, you'll enjoy picking out how she changed some of her scenes and characters to fit this story, but it's also like "ooh! this is like the scene where Draco and Hermione get locked in the wardrobe! Only instead of Hermione it's Ginny--er Clary!"

People who enjoy this genre will enjoy the book. People who enjoy Clare's writing will enjoy this book. I'm glad it got published. But it's not exactly the kind of story that you imagine lasting through generations.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 28, 2007, 1:32:01 PM PDT
T. Cotter says:
It's nice to see neutrality. I think this is a really fair review.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 6, 2009, 2:39:10 AM PDT
Sarah M says:
I was going to write a review, but you pretty much said exactly what I was going to say, so no need! Though, I must admit, this is exactly what I expected from the novel (Draco Veritas meets Buffy), and I might have been a little disappointed if it had been something different.

Posted on Mar 9, 2010, 6:11:05 PM PST
D. Reber says:
While I can understand your viewpoint, I don't think it's fair to say it is a play-off of every book you listed above because honestly, you could say that about any book. It's nearly impossible for an author to not derive ideas from any other works of fiction. And no matter what, one book/character/plot/whatever is bound to remind a reader of some other book/character/plot/whatever.
I personally loved this book and it is still my favorite at the moment, but your viewpoints are fair and do raise a good discussion.

Posted on Feb 10, 2011, 2:24:36 PM PST
Nora says:
Just curious, who is Isabelle's fanfic alter-ego?
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