Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I had promised in my January wrap up post that I would be reviewing The Mortal Instruments on the blog in the future, and this is the first out of three reviews I will be doing! As I was thinking about how I was going to go about reviewing this book, I figured I would do something a little bit different to keep things interesting for you and myself!

Looking through the scenes I had marked as I was re-reading City of Bones, I noticed that I had gotten pretty angry at certain aspects of the story while getting really excited about others. This is when I decided that I would talk about what did and didn’t work for me in City of Bones for this review!

Let’s start off with what didn’t work and then round this post up with what did work!

My earliest note while reading was about how annoyed I am with Clary. We aren’t even five pages into the book and Clary is already complaining about how ordinary she is and how boring her life is and it just continues this way for most of the book. I don’t know if this was because Cassandra Clare didn’t know better when she wrote the series, but seeing the female lead being portrayed as what has come to be the stereotype for a YA female protagonist is especially annoying the second time around.

I want to see strong female characters, women who know what they are worth and that they are exactly the way they are supposed to be. I want to see women support each other and not get jealous when another woman gets more attention than the other. The way Cassandra wrote Clary and Isabelle’s relationship especially bothered me this time around. Clary compares herself to the women around her and looks for all the things she is ‘lacking’, she isn’t as beautiful as her mother or Isabelle, she doesn’t get enough attention from Simon when Isabelle appears in the picture and so on.

Another thing that really, really bothered me while reading was the way Clary was downright mean towards Alec. They both walk into the conversation at a bad time, Jace (and Simon) is severly hurt after him and Clary went to get Simon from Hotel Dumort and everyone’s emotions are heightened – especially Clary and Alec in that moment. Alec tells her she should leave the institute because she puts Jace in a position where he doesn’t care about his own well being or the oath he’s taken.

Clary and Alec continue pushing each other’s buttons, especially Clary who throws blow after blow at Alec:

[…] ‘You couldn’t care less about anyone in this world except yourself, Alec Lightwood. No wonder you’ve never killed a single demon, because you’re too afraid.’

Alec looked stunned. ‘Who told you that?’

‘Jace.’

He looked as if she’d slapped him. ‘He would wouldn’t. He wouldn’t say that.’

‘[…] but if you were honest, you’d admit this tantrum is just because you’re in love with him. It doesn’t have anything to do with-‘

That scene ends with Alec shoving Clary against a wall and threatening her, to never speak of his feelings for Jace again. They both very quickly realize what they’ve just done and feel bad about it and this is when we come to something that did work for me: Alec and Clary ended up talking about what had happened and they realized that they were both wrong and had hurt the other.

Another thing I really, really enjoyed was Jace’s snarkiness and his sarcastic remarks in situations were they weren’t appropriate. But they were a great device to lighten up the mood and overall story and just made me love Jace so much more. Jace was also very generous with his remarks; I think every person got at least one!

[…]’Is this when you start tearing strips off your T-shirt to bind up my wound?’ […] ‘If you wanted me to rip my clothes off, you should have just asked.’ […] ‘It would have been a lot less painful.’

Another example:

‘Don’t.’ Clary raised a warning hand. ‘I’m not really in the mood right now.’

‘That’s got to be the first time a girl’s ever said that to me,’ Jace mused.

‘Stick with me and it won’t be the last.’

Which brings me to something else I really enjoyed: Clary giving back to Jace. She never just took his comments, she gave back just as good as she got. I think we all remember Clary’s ‘My name is not ‘little girl’.’. 

I don’t know how much I have talked about the fact that I am a big Malec fan on here before, so let me just tell you one thing: they are by far my favorite thing to come out of the Shadowhunters books Cassandra has written – especially the way they are done on the tv show now!

So when Magnus and Alec met and interacted for the first time in this book I was really excited and happy and it was a good interaction too (there are some problematic things still to come, so let’s celebrate the good things)! Magnus is telling Clary about what it’s like being born different and how he hated himself, when he found out what he really was. While everyone around him is stunned into silence at this, Alec speaks up and tells Magnus that it isn’t his fault, that he can’t help how he is born.

When I read that sentence coming out of Alec’s mouth, my heart breaks a little bit. Because he can say that to Magnus and mean it for Magnus, but he has trouble accepting that truth for himself and his situation.

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