89 of 115 people found the following review helpful
If Star Wars and Harry Potter had a child its name would be City of Bones
, August 24, 2009
This review is from: City of Bones (Mortal Instruments) (Hardcover)
When I first started reading The City of Bones by Cassandra Cla(i)re, I felt a tiny inkling of Déjà Vu. I ignored it, not being able to put my finger on exactly what it was, until some time towards the middle when it hit me- reading this book felt like reading a shallow Harry Potter Star Wars crossover fanfic. It had all the recognizable parts of the two stories without having any of the amazing writing, positive messages of love, friendship, and tolerance, strong overlapping plots, great characters and great analogies to mythology and human history. None of that would have bothered me so much if not for this book's other glaring flaws.
I'll start off with the characters, mainly Clary and Jace. Clary is the average, everyday girl, except that she's gorgeous (of course she doesn't know that though), geeky despite never doing anything that would qualify her as a geek, shy despite all evidence to the contrary, and clumsy despite being graceful fighter and showing no signs of clumsiness. Basically, we are told everything about her but never shown anything. Because of this Clary is a very vague character that we know very little about. She's like a catalyst used so that everything can be explained, but she's not really given an identity. Because of that she becomes a Mary Sue. She has a ton of strengths, but no weaknesses that we can see. She barely knows what a Shadow Hunter is and suddenly she can fight, draw runes, and do everything it takes years for the average Shadow Hunter to learn, without any kind of real training. It was annoying. I know it's small but it's one of my biggest pet peeves. It takes years to learn how to effectively use a weapon; it takes months to build up the kind of muscle needed just to lift some of them. She shouldn't be able to just pick it up and use it.
Then there's Jace. He's an arrogant jerk who looks good and always has a snarky come back. He was another thing that really triggered a strong sense of déjà vu. Everything about him seemed so familiar and so annoying for some reason and it really started to bug me. Only when I read who the author was did I realize why he was so familiar. He was exactly like Cassandra Cla(i)re's Draco from her infamous Harry Potter fanfic The Draco Trilogy. He was fanon (fan canon) Draco, a Draco in leather pants- an extremely out of character Draco that is nothing like in the books, but still wildly popular in Harry Potter fanfiction. He was absolutely interchangeable with Cla(i)re's fanfic Draco to the point that the same passages used to describe Draco in the fanfic were used to describe him here. I know there is nothing really wrong with that, but I hate fanon Draco and seeing him outside of Harry potter Fanfiction didn't make me like him anymore than I already did.
Then there's the main villain-Valentine. I half expected him to have a top hat, cane, and twirled mustache. He seemed so cheesy to me. He was like the love child of Darth Vader, Sean Connery, and Lord Voldemort without any of the background, depth, or motive. He simply hated all the downworlders. That's the only motive I could gather for him. I understand that this is the first book, and I should wait for him to be fleshed out some but I felt like it was a very shallow, even for a debut book.
The dialogue felt off in this book. I kept feeling like I was supposed to be reminded the banter between Elizabeth and Mister Darcy, or something like that, but I never was. Instead I found myself rolling my eyes thinking no average teenager would talk like that. The language is too mature for the average teen. I could understand Jace, and maybe Isabel and Alex talking like that, but not Clary and Simon.
The plot was boring. I could see every twist coming a mile away. The moment Jace mentioned not knowing his mother I knew what was going to happen. Just like I knew Clary was going to be bad guy's daughter the moment she said she didn't know who her father was. Cla(i)re might as well have installed a giant neon flashing sign that said "SIBLINGS, VALENTINE'S KIDS!!!!" across the page. It was too easy to see coming. Nothing surprised me so I had no motivation to keep reading other than my stubbornness.
The writing also made this book hard to finish. It was so overly descriptive and prosy I half expected the book to start leaking purple goo. We were being bombarded with so much information, from the guys hair color to the info dumps we would get telling us about the shadow hunters, their history, their mythology, what color underwear they wear, etc. There was just too much of it. I felt like I was digging through a mountain of descriptions and back story to find a needle of plot.
Then there's the "shout outs" in the book. Cla(i)re had this really annoying habit of giving her friend's characters small cameos, or naming minor characters after her friends. It was like watching a movie and in the middle of some important scene Brad Pitt just starts yelling "Hi mom! Hi Dad! Hi Angie, BFF's forever!" It was stupid. It's fine to give shout outs in fanfiction but not in real books. Save that kind of stuff for your blog, don't put it in your published work. Cla(i)re needs to stop giving secret signals to her friends, and start focusing on how to not make her characters Mary Sues.
Over all I didn't like this book. I felt like too much of it had been done before and that nothing was original enough to keep my attention. Maybe Cla(i)re will improve with her next couple of books, I don't plan on finding out though.
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