13 January 2011

Books 5 & 6: City of Bones (and Ashes)

Title: City of Bones and City of Ashes
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher/Year: Simon Pulse / 2008
Date Finished: 11 and 12 January 2011
Source/Format: Swap / Print

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

Challenges: TBR DareSteampunk Challenge, TwentyEleven Challenge, GLBT(Q) Challenge, 101 Fantasy Reading

The Short and Sweet of It
Clary finds herself immersed in a world of Shadowhunters, demons, vampires, werewolves, and one really evil dude after following a hot boy into a deserted room. Soon she is flying around the city, getting into fights with supernatural creatures, trying to thwart said evil dude, and flirting with a totally different hot boy. Hooked. Like a shark after chum, I devoured these two books and have already weaseled my way into getting the third.

A Bit of a Ramble
Why, oh why, have I put off reading this series for so long? The first two books have been languishing on my shelves, and I have ignorantly ignored them. Then, in a spurt of spontaneous reading, I picked up City of Bones. And read the whole thing plus over half of the second book in one night. I read for like five hours straight. It was awesome.

The lead character, Clary, may be one of my favorite teen heroines in quite some time. Heather from Book Addiction said it best when she wrote: "I thought she was a bad-ass heroine, very strong and intelligent and also very teenager-like, which is perfectly okay for a teenager". While I didn't love Clary as I found some of her blindness and choices frustrating, I realized that this obliviousness and those strange decisions were perfectly appropriate for a teenager. She was refreshingly young adultish.

The world building is excellently done in my opinion with the perfect amount of "Let Me Tell You a Story" moments where a character tells a story about the past to another character in order to get back story in. This tactic can be heavily abused, but in these first two Mortal Instruments books readers primarily get the history through current events and brief references in dialogue. I much prefer this method as too much character storytelling (aka jabbering) interrupts the flow of the narrative. And it can sound like a List of Things Readers Need to Know which is very blah.

I try to steer clear of the Harry Potter fault-finding mission that seems to pervade YAL these days. It seems that everywhere I turn people are saying that some author ripped material from the HP series. Any similarity is seen as some sort of criminal activity by the author. When I read Harry Potter, I do not see a purely original work with no influence from other SFF novels. And I don't mind. As such, when an author writes a story that seems influenced by HP, I don't mind. The natural flow of ideas and progression of common tropes and themes and situations and characters is just a part of literature. I did, however, have a momentary "Where's Harry? Oh, there he is" moment while reading. Instead of discussing it though, I am just going to point you to Clare's review at The Literary Omnivore as she has done a good job of pointing out some of the sameness.

Overall, the books impressed me with there adherence to some of the conventions I adore in my YAL: badassery, supernatural beings, steamy love, etc. But as Carrie from Books and Movies says, "it’s always a nice surprise to read a fantasy that is more richly imagined and intricately drawn" than the typical. And I did feel that the world created in this series is 'richly imagined and intricately drawn'; this is the type of story I want to bleed into, a world I want to live in (well, in my mind at least...I mean, it's really nice not having anyone out there who wants to kill me...).

Question: I hear there is to be a fourth book in the series, an unexpected fourth book. How do you guys feel about the random inclusion of an extra installment after a series has wrapped up? And I totally did not mean for that to come out in such an obviously biased way.... I really haven't solidified my thoughts on the issue yet I swear!


  1. I'm not into fantasy but keep thinking I might like this book. I have it on the way to me from winning it in a swap on paperbackswap, so I guess I'll see! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it though!

  2. I find the younger generation simply influenced by Harry Potter, but the older generation is definitely ripped from Harry Potter.

    A fourth book seems a little tacked on—while I haven't finished the series, it looks less like an Inheritance trilogy/saga situation (where the author takes an extra book to wrap up the story arc) and more of a what's next for the characters, which ought to simply be a new trilogy altogether.

  3. I think the fourth book actually starts a new series that is meant to be a prequel. I bought it and all the others for my kids, and they love them. I am glad to hear that you did too!

  4. More than a few times, I've considered starting this series and reading it with my daughter. She's totally into this kind of thing. I don't really mind if stories have a HP influence, but let's be honest, there are some out there that are just plain thievery.

  5. Hi Trish! I read these books during my winter break back to back. I picked it up because IT WAS a trilogy and that's exactly what I wanted. (Oh and I enjoyed them, btw. :) ) To find out that there was a fourth sorta left me feeling mixed emotions. I read somewhere that's it's focusing less on Clary and more on the other characters. With that being said, I feel as though I could wait until the other three are written (Yup, there's suppose to be three more, I believe) to read them. The third City book ended perfectly, so I'm content.

    Also, I think that Zibilee is confusing the Clockwork Angel book with the newest fourth book. Clockwork is a prequel of sots, but with different characters. There will be 3 - 6 of those as well.

    I say, bring them on. They're fun relaxing YA reads.

  6. Forget the books, I want to see badassery become an official word. I like!

  7. Isn't this just such a fun read! I just read something which talked about the fourth book being the start of a separate series featuring the same characters, but for example, it is a different bad guy!

    There is also another spin off series that is set in Victorian England, and so far only has one crossover character.

  8. Oh well I only read the first one, and haven't gotten around to 2 and 3, but I liked the 1st, so more is better right? Clary is refreshing, acting like the teenager that is is :) Great review.

  9. City of Bones has been sitting on my shelf for way too long. I picked it up as soon as a friend recommended it and now... there it sits. I see now I need to get to this one soon!

  10. This sounds like such a fun book...I'll have to read it now.


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