City of Bones – prevaricating and suppurating

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Image from Goodreads
Image from Goodreads

Title: City of Bones

Author: Cassandra Clare

Series: Mortal Instruments

Rating: 1.5/5

I’ve finally finished City of Bones and my opinion is unchanged – it really is not that much. Cassandra Clare really needed a better editor, and Professor Snape to hit her over the head when she was writing something silly/stupid/implausible.

The plot actually has potential, sort of , if only she had limited herself to a couple of mythological creatures – and not ALL OF THEM. Perhaps in the books that come later Clare gets better at character development and everything, but here she should have stuck to what she knows how to do – there is no shame in choosing 2 or 3 creatures and sticking with them. Of, course she did not do that and we are left with strange half-written characters.

Once Clare had decided she needed to write about every mythological creature ever thought of (except for zombies, they, of course, don’t exist, don’t be stupid) her well of originality must have run out, so the main characters are so typical that one can almost guess their next statement. The main character (Clary) is a 14 year-old teenager who is oblivious to her own beauty, does not realize her best friend is in love with her, is clumsy, and forgetful of the things and people around her (I should have made a note of how many times she had forgotten about Simon and the fact that her mother is missing). Her best friend is of course a glasses-wearing geek who loves her to bits but doesn’t have the guts to tell her that. The love interest of Clary is Jace – a blond, excuse me, TAWNY teenager, with mad demon-killing skills, witty tongue; he also plays the piano, and incidentally, it is discovered at the end of the book, is Clary’s brother. Another unpredictable twist in the  tale – Clary, it seems, is the daughter of the main bad d00d – Valentine. I am proud to say, I called it after reading the first 6 or 7 chapters. The sibling bond between Jace and Clary is sure to disappear in the following books – I doubt this turns out to be an incest story. So, until then we have to wonder – will they or won’t they 😉

As for the “bad d00ds” element, Clare has no choice but to “borrow” from Christianity

Valentine’s last name is of course Morgenstern – morning star – just like Lucifer (and Jesus). Naming the “fallen” Shadowhunter this she just plays on the reader’s knowledge of Christianity (and possibly other religions), and of course she doesn’t want to risk her readers not knowing this so she has Valentine spell it our for us. How kind of her. Maybe she is using this as a type of a pre-determination element – Valentine could not but raise against the impurities that threatened the system he believed in.  It seems that she is convinced that the main bad guy in a book needs to have a symbolic name (like Voldemort, Darth Vader….). Bad guys don’t need symbolism to be bad, even in fantasy! Also – his first name – Valentine, seriously?

Valentine’s circle of course has their own motto – what kind of a elitist group would they be if they didn’t – and of course, to be a respected group set on ruling the world the motto should be in Latin: In Hoc Signo Vinces.

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Here Clare again show us her originality by simply taking the motto that by legend belonged to Emperor Constantine’s army (and some other army groups, schools, …. there’s even a Nazi-inspired political manifesto of that name).

Now, the Major OhMyGod moment when Clary finds out that Jace (the guy she’s been fawning over since chapter 2 or 3) is her brother is another shining example of how fantastically this woman is unable to write convincing character behaviour. So, Clary, as a hormonal teenager (who does have some fighter’s blood in her) reacts to finding out that the guy she fancies and the guy she’s kissed and stuff is her brother by “crossing her arms stubbornly over her chest”. Really? REALLY? How about – incredulity, anger, hormonal outburst… something, anything and not this anemic response.

All in all a very poor excuse for fantasy. What follows are some of the fun parts of the book 🙂

More of Clare’s literary pearls (for part one of the pearls check out part one of this review):

“In the half-light the big empty room they passed through on their way to the roof looked as deserted as stage sets, the white-draped furniture looming up out of the dimness like icebergs through fog.” – advice: don’t use two complete different similes in one sentence when describing the same space. It only makes you look desperate and silly.

“He came soon after, but I hid from him, as werewolves can.” and of course there is no explanation of this werewolves-specific hiding technique.

“Glasses pushed down to the bridge of his nose.” – here we could presume Clare doesn’t know basic names for things. I as a non-native speaker did check this out, and it turns out that the bridge of the nose is where glasses usually stand. So, if Luke pushed them “down”, I am forced to ask myself down from where?

“She’d dressed for the hospital in a black pleated skirt, pink lip gloss, and a vintage sailor-collared blouse” – so, lip gloss is now clothing? I’ll let L’Oreal know.

“Duh” moments:

  • “She had rolled onto her side and was lying half-in and half-out of a puddle of filthy water.” – half-in AND half-out, you don’t say!
  • “Savoring the rich savory-salt taste of the pork” – rock on! way to use your thesaurus!
  • “howling a high animal howl”

Inexplicable moments

  • “Only Jace, Clary thought, could look cool in pajama bottoms and an old T-shirt, but he pulled it off, probably through sheer force of will.”
  • “Her face felt like one big bruise, her arms, aching and stinging, like raw meat.”
  • she “flung a surprised-looking Isabelle’s hand back at her” – ha? detachable extremities, cool.
  • “The marble itself was a pure, ashy ivory, hard and polished-looking, inset in places with narrow strips of onyx, jasper, and jade.” – marble was ivory inlaid with onyx, jasper and jade? niiiiice
  • “He reached out a fastidious booted toe and shoved Luke” – fastidious booted toe?

– I, much like Cas and my reading buddy, was confused by these pearls.

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And in the end the award for the use of “word of the day” is shared by two words: prevarications and suppurating.

Now, all joking aside – I might bitch and moan about books like these, but I secretly love them, and there are several reasons why:

  1. I can bitch and moan about them, they make me write long reviews like this one
  2. they make me laugh
  3. they re-build my faith in my own writing – hell, if she can publish, so can I
  4. they make me laugh (worth mentioning again)
  5. provide good ranting material for my book-buddy and me

so, until next time.

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