Thursday, April 02, 2009

The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Plot Summary: 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. Clary knows she should call the police, but it's hard to explain a murder when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary.

I’ve heard lots of buzz about this book. The whole series, actually. And the premise is right up my alley, so I picked up a copy from the library. And? Well...I really like the premise. But I just couldn’t get into the characters.

When I read a book, I need the characters to be important to me. I need to understand why they do what they do, think what they think, and like who they like. In CITY OF BONES, I didn’t get that with any of the characters.

As with all my book discussions, there are SPOILERS below.

Clary’s mother was a Shadowhunter, that is, a demon hunter. She could see fairies and demons, and, therefore, Clary can, too. But Clary has grown up in the human world, her best friend is a human named Simon, and they’ve been best friends for ten years or so.

And yet, she ditches her best friend at a coffee house to chase after the invisible murderer, ditches him further by running home when she thinks her mom is in trouble, then is taken from her house after a demon tries to kill her. After all this – her house nearly destroyed, and no one knows where Clary or her mother are – she doesn’t even think to call Simon and tell him she’s okay. Is this what best friends do? Nope. That’s what acquaintances do. If my best friend did that to me, I’d kill her and then never speak to her again.

On top of this, Clary meets other Shadowhunters: Jace, Isabelle, and Alec. They call regular humans ‘mundanes.’ When these Shadowhunters call Simon ‘the mundane’ instead of using his name, Clary doesn’t stick up for him. She doesn’t even get annoyed on his behalf. What kind of a friend is that?

Because of this, I didn’t feel anything when Clary got annoyed with Isabelle for her interest in Simon. I thought the clash between the girls was merely derive to create tension – except there wasn’t any tension because the emotions didn’t seem real.

Also, I didn’t buy it when Simon came back as the chauffeur. That he would let Clary treat him with such indifference didn’t make me like him too much. I didn’t like Jace because of his arrogance with little else to him, and even less when Clary kissed him. Isabelle wasn’t explored at all so I had no opinion of her at all. Alec could have been an amazing character, but he wasn’t explored either. He felt like a template of repressed homosexuality.

I think this could have been an amazing book, but the characters just weren’t explored enough for me. As a result, they didn’t seem real, and I just couldn’t make myself care about them.

I’ve decided to read the next book in the series, just to give it one more try. And I’m hoping there’s a bit more to the characters. : )


Christina Farley said...

I found your comments interesting. I loved the concepts of the book and that's what kept me reading but I also didn't get the characters. And then at the end for Jace to suddenly turn out to be who he was (trying not to spoil!). I was ticked.

PJ Hoover said...

I'm on book 3 now. Book one I really liked (as I'm way into action, etc) and I did like the relationship between Jace and Clary. Book 2 was OK...kept me reading.
But now I realize as I'm reading book 3, I'm only reading it for the main characters' relationship, not for the story.

Anne Spollen said...

"...a template of repressed homosexuality."

I absolutely love that line!

C.R. Evers said...

I like the concept of the book too. I didn't read the spoilers, because I plan on reading it sometime, but it's not high on my list.

Tabitha said...

Christina - the concept of this book is fantastic. If the characters had more to them, I wouldn't have been able to get the next book fast enough. :) And I was also kinda ticked at the big Jace reveal. :)

PJ - I'm picking up the next book from the library today, so we'll see how it goes. I really want it the characters to be more interesting because the story's concept is great. :)

Anne - LOL! Thanks. :)

Christy - the story's concept is great! I hope you enjoy it when you eventually read it. :)

Llehn said...

Oh oh, now I am nervous because I just picked up my copy!


Stacy Nyikos said...

You're kind to read the second book if the first left you so uninspired. I read the first book in 39 Clues and couldn't really get into it. I didn't pick up the second. There are just so many other books out there to discover. Spoken like a true consumer. (Gulp)

Tabitha said...

Llehn - you might be just fine unless you're as picky as I am. Then you might be in trouble... :)

Stacey - I like to give authors at least a few chances. Plus, I'm positive there's something to be learned in each book I read, so it'll never be a complete waste of my time. :)

Mary Witzl said...

I love that template line too. Remind me not to have any templates of anybody in my books!

Like you, I cannot fully enjoy a book unless I feel some connection with the characters. They have to have some sort of imperfection -- some element of humanity that I can identify with. The books I hate the most are those with characters that do everything right and never seem to feel insecure or screw up in any way. And I don't do very well with haughty or inconsiderate protagonists, either -- unless I get to see them change or achieve epiphanies along the way.

Tabitha said...

Thanks. :) I'll be sure to note any template characters in your story. :)

I can't read about perfect characters either. No one's perfect, so how can any reader relate to someone who is? Doesn't make sense. :)

Rabid Fox said...

A very good review. I must concede that, despite enjoying the book a good deal, I also tilted my head in wonder at Simon's insufferable kowtowing.