City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007
I’ll admit that I’m usually a little late to the party when it comes to book series. With the exception of Harry Potter, I feel like I don’t discover series for myself for a few months, or in this case, a few years after they came out. But as the saying goes, better late than never. In a way, I actually prefer it. Just because a series is older (or already complete) doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading anymore. And this way, I don’t have to wait months or years for the next installment to come out (Veronica Roth, if you happen to see this, please can Insurgent be out now?); all I have to do is go to the library.
This was pretty much the case as I finally got my hand on Cassandra Clare’s books. The Twitterverse and blogosphere were absolutely gushing with love for Clare when her most recent novel, Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices: Book 2), hit bookshelves last month. I decided I wanted to see what the buzz was about so I chose to start all the way at the very beginning with City of Bones, the first book in The Mortal Instruments series.
To put it simply, I’m completely hooked. Finishing the novel over the course of two evenings, I was immersed in the first part of what I already can tell is an impressive saga (no spoilers, please! I’ll catch up!). Readers are introduced to Clary, a 15 year old girl living in New York with her mother, her dad having died before she was born. Out one night with her best friend Simon at a club, she witnesses three other teens covered in tattoos go into a back room and kill someone. Only it turns out that Jace, Alec, and Izzy aren’t just teens, they’re Shadowhunters; they aren’t tattoos, they’re protective runes; and it wasn’t a someone they killed, but a something – a demon. And perhaps the most important thing of all is that Clary shouldn’t have been able to see any of it.
Clary’s fantasy world that lies just under the surface of NYC is rich, detailed, and appropriately intimidating. The pacing of the story is perfectly spot-on – it’s fast and up-tempo which the many action scenes warrant, but not so much so that I couldn’t keep up. Since it is a fantasy series, there is a lot of explanation that Clary and readers must endure, but Clare does this in such a way that it’s not tedious or boring like an unwanted history lesson. The characters are also impressive – Clary is smart, talented, caring, strong, pretty (though she doesn’t realize it), and is a protagonist I had no problem getting behind. Jace is a spectacular crush and I enjoy that he’s not perfect, he knows he’s not perfect, and he doesn’t care. Simon, Alec, Izzy, Luke, Hodge, the evil Valentine, everyone has a distinct style and voice that makes everything more vivid and real.
It all leaves me with one thought – why oh why didn’t I find this when it first came out in 2007? Oh right, I was at college, majoring in English. Like I said, at least now I get to dive right in to book two, City of Ashes, without having to wait!
So readers, what other fantastic series are out there that I’ve been missing out on? Let me know, please leave comments, and as always, happy reading!