Just Finished…City of Bones

imageSo, this is my first book of 2016… I realise that I am about eight years late in giving this series a try, but it has been sat on my bookshelf for ages now and I just randomly plucked it off and started it over Christmas.

Overall, my rating for this would be 4* – up until about two-thirds of the way through, it was probably more of a 3*, but the writing style and ideas behind the world created in The Mortal Instruments held things together for me, when perhaps I wasn’t as invested in the characters or their actual adventure. That might sound like an odd thing to say, but I’ve found that happening with a few books I’ve read lately (including a very long trilogy that I’m just coming to the end of and will review soon).

In terms of the world created, it has a lot of typical YA supernatural elements: wolves, vampires, angels, demons… But, in here they are all in the same ‘world’ for once, rather than split into an angels book, or a vampire-wolf combo, which is interesting. I liked the idea of the city setting as well; seeing the action unravel around various parts of New York was a nice twist for me, with demon clubs and vampire hotels around every corner.

The action/pacing wasn’t amazing for me though – I never felt ‘gripped’ by the story and could easily put it down and walk away. I enjoyed the characters and the witty banter was great, but I never really bonded with them. As it stands, I’d read more in the series if the opportunity came up, but as a completed series, ready and waiting for me, I don’t feel the urge or that invested to pick up book two. In honesty, I like the sound of Clare’s second series more and so may give the Infernal Devices a go before I venture further along the paths of shadowhunters and demons…

And for anyone interested, Tony reviewed one of the ‘Infernal Devices’ novels a while ago, you can see his thoughts here:

https://asidefromwriting.com/2014/01/15/tonys-review-clockwork-angel-by-cassandra-clare/

 

Tony’s Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/4/43/Clockwork_Angel_1.jpg/220px-Clockwork_Angel_1.jpg

3/5

Tessa Gray descends from a boat from New York to Victorian England, expecting to meet her brother, but a very strange and sinister pair of sisters kidnap her instead. Tessa finds herself pulled into a “Downworld” of magic, spells, vampires and demons, as she searches for her brother. Rescued by an organisation calling itself The Enclave, Tessa discovers she’s the focus of some very unwelcome attention, beings that will stop at nothing to possess power she didn’t know she had.

I’ve never read any Cassandra Clare before, and the book starts off really strongly. I can see why people like her writing. I felt immersed in Victorian London, smelling it and tasting it along with Tessa. For the first few chapters, the book rattled along.

Then it all fell apart for a while. There must be close to a hundred pages of exposition after Tessa is rescued by The Enclave. She sits and wanders around The Institute, while everyone tells her what sort of world she’s fallen into.

And there’s a chapter which really bugged me: Two of the main characters interview a businessman to see if they know anything about Tessa’s brother, and other matters. It could have been covered with a reported speech conversation about as short as this: “We went to see Mortmain. He doesn’t know where your brother is, but he seems to know more than he should about Downworld.”

It didn’t need a chapter. It didn’t need a chapter that head-hops out of Tessa and into two other characters. Nowhere else in the book does it do that. It was about this point that I realised I was reading exposition and nothing much else was going on apart from Tessa falling in love with the (obligatory) two boys at the same time.

Hmmm, love triangle with supernatural creatures, where have I seen that one before? At least these two are the best of friends and don’t let Tessa come between them.

However, the pages of exposition were quite subtly done – It did take me seventy pages to realise there wasn’t much else going on – and by then the pace was picking up again, enough to keep me reading until the end of the book. There was a neat twist close to the climax that reverberated right back to the start of the book that kept things interesting.

One of the joys of the book is its strong sense of location and atmosphere. Clare writes wonderful little details – moonlight streaming through a window, the stench of The Thames, long shadows and dark corners – to wrap you up in the world. Although she does need to know that in England in summertime, twilight goes on for hours. She has Tessa looking out of a window at sunset and a page of dialogue later it’s dark. At least, I hope Clare thinks it’s summertime – we don’t get much daylight at eight pm in winter.

The characters are another of the strengths of the book. Will and Jem flash witticisms off each other like a comedy duo, lightening the mood with comic relief; Tessa gives as good as she gets back at them, refusing to back down when faced with the moody Will.

Will…he’s an interesting character, a brooding Heathcliff and a Byronic hero, a wastrel like Sidney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities. Yet, like Sydney, you know his heart beats with passion and fire. I kept seeing Sydney Carton in every description of him – he does lean against things a lot, and has the same subtext of vulnerabilities, you sense. A 19th century Han Solo, waiting for his princess.

Jem was the yang to Will’s ying – sensitive, caring, passionate. Fragile to Will’s indestructible.

I never got the impression there was any contest between which of them Tessa would choose, so I couldn’t call the relationship they had a love triangle. Maybe a right angle one if it was; Tessa was always going to choose…ahh, but that would be a spoiler.

I knew going in that this was book one (Thanks for telling me on the cover – I hate books without a resolution that turn out to be trilogies), so not all of the questions were answered, not all of the villains dispatched or the threads wrapped up.

All in all, a skilful tale, filled with a great sense of place and atmosphere and witty dialogue. The exposition let the book down for me…it could have been fifty pages shorter.

I believe I read this is a prequel to The Mortal Instruments series, but I haven’t read them and didn’t need to to enjoy this one.

I’m in no rush to read Book Two or Three  (Why does everything need three books these days anyway?), but if I stumble across them one book-bereft day, I’ll probably pick them up.

Emily Read…City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

 Emily is our Goodreads pal and all-round lovely lady! 🙂 And, as you’ll know from our side-bar, her blog Confessions of a Bookaholic is one of our favourites. Throughout August and September, we will be featuring some of her book reviews on Aside from Writing so you can get to know her too!

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Cover Rating: 3/5 Stars
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars


Synopsis: The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And – most importantly of all – she can finally call Jace her boyfriend. But nothing comes without a price. Someone is murdering Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second bloody war.When Jace begins to pull away from Clary without explaining why, she is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: She herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.
Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever…

Alright I think I can safely say that Cassandra Clare is one of the most amazing authors ever to have walked this Earth – and no I’m not exaggerating. Every one of her books is sheer perfection. Okay I didn’t love the last one all that much but I think that has more to do with the fact I was in a slump than anything else. My only problem is with the synopsis “the stakes are higher than ever”, the saying is so overused. Someone has to be original one day and just say “the stakes are as high as they’re going to get” or “the stakes are as high as in the previous book”. I suppose they’re not as catchy. City Of Fallen Angels I think was so much better than City Of Glass. It is set after the events of the war and everything is slowly going back to normalcy. Until a chain of murders begin to arouse suspicion and Jace begins to separate himself from Clary for no reason. Simon is also having problems of his own, I mean having two girlfriends can be SO annoying sometimes.

Clary isn’t a particularly exciting character but I don’t hate her. She’s normal, which I like even if she can be irritating at times. Jace, I do love him but his self-loathing complex is getting on my nerves. He doesn’t believe he deserves anything including Clary even when he can be with her. I liked Jace originally because he was funny and totally arrogant but he seems to have lost it. I started off hating Simon. He seeing two girls at the same time! But later he did grow on me and about time too! I loved Alec and Magnus as normal though they weren’t in the book all that much. Alec showed his jealous side too which seemed strangely sweet to me. I was very disappointed we didn’t see much of those two; I just love them both.

Overall Cassandra Clare hasn’t tarnished her flawless reputation with this book. It was fast paced and left me yearning for the next book. As always I recommend this book for everyone who has the ability to read. You’d be mad not to try it. The City Of Bones movie is coming out soon so I hope more people will read these books in anticipation for it. I am excited for it but I think they’ve made some questionable casting choices. My hope is that they will grow on me during the film but at the present time I’m not really glad about any of them.

My Favorite Quotes:
“You’re just worried they’ll hire a male instructor and he’ll be hotter than you.”Jace’s eyebrows went up. 
“Hotter than me?”
“It could happen,” Clary said, “You know, theoretically.”
“Theoretically the planet could suddenly crack in half, leaving me on one side and you on the other, forever and tragically parted, but I’m not worried about that either. Some things,” Jace said, with his customary crooked smile, “are just too unlikely to dwell upon.”

“So what was that all about?”
“I think,” Jace said, “that she asked if she could touch my mango.”
“She said that?”
Jace shrugged. “Yeah, then she gave me her number.”

“Hey,” said Jace. who was sitting on an overturned speaker, looking at his cellphone, “do you want to see a photo of Alec and Magnus in Berlin?”
“Not really,” said Simon.
“Magnus is wearing lederhosen.”
“And yet, still no.”

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