As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently bought City of Bones by Cassandra Clare because of my familiarity with her fanfiction writing back in the day. Having rather fond memories of it (despite the scandals) I was curious to see what she’d come up with. And, well… mixed feelings about sums it up.
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder — much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing – not even a smear of blood – to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know….
I am definitely biased for having read Cassandra’s fanfiction. There were just too many parallels for me to ignore — not only in terms of style, but also in terms of events and characters. And while I don’t want to point fingers (having re-purposed my own fanfiction plots many a time), it seemed a little odd that there were so many similarities. The bones are the same — it’s the skin that’s different.
Clary was rather flat as a character, but for the genre I suppose that’s expected. Jace, the love interest, was probably my favourite character, although his past was reminiscent of Cassie’s Draco. One part (where Jace tells Clary about a pet falcon he had) really reminded me of Draco Veritas. I was a little disappointed by this as I didn’t quite expect I’d be reading a fanfiction where the names have just been changed but the essence of the characters remains the same. I
Another minus point for me was the large-letter Stephanie Meyer recommendation blazed across the front cover — as much as I enjoyed Twilight, it’s hardly the best-written book out there. And as I was reading I could kind of see why Meyer would like it — it had the same overdone attempts at poetic writing that makes a sensible person cringe. Not to mention the metaphors and similes that distracted me from the story (an abandoned building that looks like a collapsed soufflé, for example). The writing was pretty hard to get past at first — I really had to push through the first few pages before I was able to ignore the style and concentrate on the plot.
So why have I given this story three stars? Two reasons. First — although the plot is at times predictable — there were certain unexpected reveals that I really enjoyed. And considering that I bought this book more for a mindless read than anything else, I can’t say the more predictable parts of the plot bothered me all that much. Especially considering that the story doesn’t have an all-rounded happily-ever-after, given some crucial changes to the dynamics between the characters. Let’s just say I’m a fan of doomed love affairs.
The second reason I enjoyed the story was because of the world building. I think it’s a shame Cassie didn’t develop the universe a little more, but there are a lot of exciting ideas. The magic in the story was a definite strength.
In sum, if you haven’t read Cassandra’s fanfiction, you’re probably more likely to enjoy this book. It may not win many points in terms of style, but the universe is pretty interesting.