Do you want to know what happens when I really don't like a book and I have nothing to do on a Saturday night? This is what happens, my most detailed review to date. And I giggled the whole time while I wrote it. Enjoy.
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Why, oh why did I waste such valuable reading time finishing this? Because, apparently, I'm a glutton for punishment.
I will warn you ahead of time, this review may contain spoilers!!! I'm not sure yet because I don't really care enough to plan this out. This will mostly be whining, ranting, and general complaining. Remember, I warned you.
Before I dive into this review, I will tell you that I've heard the Cassandra Clare plagiarized arguments, and that this book is basically a reworked fan fiction like the famed Fifty Shades of Grey books. I will not go into those details. I'm just going to look at what has been presented to me in a digital style format for Kindle. So be prepared for jokes and snarky comments that most will probably not think are funny.
I decided to read this book because my fourteen year old cousin asked for the series for Christmas. I helped my family purchase it for her (because I'm their book guru) and I thought I would give at least the first one a shot. I've been trying to read more YA lately to familiarize myself with why it's so popular since I pretty much stopped reading YA when I was ten. I'd make the odd excursion into the wilds occasionally, but for the most part I didn't read much.
This was my reaction to the book:
WHAT DID I JUST READ! HOW IN HELL DID THIS GET PUBLISHED! DID SHE SELL HER SOUL TO THE DEVIL OR SOMETHING?
Yes, I bolded that. I currently want to rub my head along the floor as I walk in the futile hope that I'll rub this book from my memory. If Sherlock Holmes' Attic Theory is to be believed, that this book is taking up valuable space I can use for my writing and better books.
Let me start with the characters since they're probably the most appalling aspect.
Clary: This little lovely is a fifteen/sixteen year old red-head who loves her sketchbook and doesn't think she's pretty. Sounds like me in high school. I should relate right? Wrong. Clary is one of the angriest, self-absorbed, whiniest little brats I've ever had the displeasure of getting to know.
I've read my share of female protagonists who go down like cheap alcohol; they put up a fight and don't agree once you think you've stomached them. But I liked those gals anyway. Clary is not one of them. She bitches about everything. She gets angry at the stupidest stuff. She also can't keep a solid thought in her head. She wonders about the strangest things at the strangest times, like in the middle of a fight. And she slaps or scratches people with barely a reason.
Let's move on, shall we? Before I throw my computer. She really pisses me off that much.
Jace: I know he's supposed to basically be this popular ideal of fanfic Draco (Now with more leather!), but I honestly thought Draco was a waste of space to begin with. Not because Rowling was a terrible writer (because she's definitely not that), but because he was a terrible person! If I just look at this character without thinking about his developmental origin, I still don't like him. He's a conceited jackass. He's the kind of guy where you're friend looks at you and says, in the sassiest way possible, "Gurl, you can do better." Sure, he's got tattoos and blonde sex hair, but when are those boys good for you?
Now, I'll be straight with you, reader. Think of it this way. Cassandra Clare refers to Jace's blonde curls so often I was beginning to wonder if he was rockin' a perm. And he's wearing leather pants in hot, humid New York weather. His dangly bits have got to be chaffing. Seriously, ladies. That is not hot. All he's missing is an Ed Hardy shirt before he's the douche in the corner of the club you roll your eyes at.
Before any fans read this and freak out on me with: OH NO! JACE IS TOTES HAWT! YOU JUS HATIN BECAUSE YOU CAN'T HAVE HIM! YOU JEALOUS CAUSE YOU CAN'T WRITE LIKE CLARE CAN! (I can't even be a pre-teen girl right, and I was one once.) There are no pictures. You are living in your fantasy. All Clare describes most of the time are his eyes and hair. If you are a grown woman and you're mad at what I've said, go drool over Supernatural. The Winchesters are hot, demon hunters, and have better personalities. Okay, marginally better personalities. Whatever. At least they aren't wearing leather pants. Or in puberty.
Simon: The child hood friend suffering from unrequited love syndrome. Yawn. He was awesome until he got all heart broken. Solid friend till the end even though he could have pushed Clary off a cliff and I would have felt it totally justified. The only character that the dry wit Clare tries to use fits. At one point he does tell Clary off and calls Jace an asshole, earning him my Favorite Character Award.
Isabelle: The bitchy hot chick Clary hates even though she isn't that bitchy. I actually kind of liked her despite being a totally undeveloped stereotype. The butt of cooking jokes.
Alec: Isabelle's boring older brother. He's gay for Jace. Hates on Clary because she's also making eyes at his dream man. He's just there for plot conflict. Too underdeveloped to be interesting.
Magnus Bane: I liked Magnus despite his unfortunate attire. He really seemed better than that. I would read the other two books for him, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't suffer through more Clary. Although, he could totally be that sassy gay friend Clary needs to tell her, "Gurl, you can do better." (I really wanted to say that again. I blame the lack of sleep.) Of course, nothing Clare writes is really that interesting, so I don't know why I expect it to happen.
Luke: Clary's mother's friend suffering from unrequited love syndrome. Also liked him, but he should have yelled at Clary more for being a little brat.
Jocelyn: a.k.a. Coma mom. That's how she spends the whole book. And ends the book. I felt cheated.
Valentine: The big bad. More like Bad-Guy-From-a-Can. He's not really menacing at all, or even memorable. Even his name sucks. I'm gonna call him Daddy V from now on because for some strange reason I can take that more seriously than Valentine. Who names their child that anyway?
That should handle all the characters, which I enjoyed writing about more than I thought. Now, onto the next biggest complain that I've read about and couldn't help noticing: the metaphors! Bum-bum-bum! I'll just list a few off:
"The night sky rippled overhead..." How does the sky ripple when you aren't looking at it through anything?
"The moon hung like a locket over the city..." So it just hanging there wasn't good enough?
"She wondered how often he let glimpses of his real self peek through the facade that was as hard and shiny as the coat of lacquer on one of her mother's Japanese boxes." This one broke my brain.
"... was black as velvet." Oh, honey. Didn't you know velvet comes in many different colors?
To describe a mausoleum: "... like an iceberg off the bow of the Titanic."
To refer to a restaurant building: "... like a collapsed souffle."
"... the lights of Manhattan burning like cold jewels." This would be a moment where Clare using glittering would make sense.
"The apple tasted green and cool." How do you taste green?
"She felt a bright surge of shame that burst behind her eyelids like a small sun." If shame looks like the sun to you, Clary, why do you still have eyes?
"... yowling like a foghorn." Does this woman think about what she says? This cat sounds possessed.
Okay, I'll stop there before I start crying. I swear, Clare doesn't think about what she's actually putting down. Everything in her world "sparks," "gleams," "glints," or "glitters." It sounds painful to look at. When I read the descriptions and think about what it would look like visually, it sounds like Tinkerbell covered Clare's world in pixie dust. Instead of making vampires sparkle, Clare made friggin' everything sparkle! Eyes, bracelets, bracers, weapons, random objects in the corner. It stopped making sense. I don't even want to know how many times she uses those words. I kept getting deja vu with those words as often as I saw "like" or "as." This chick needs an editor.
Plot wise it isn't much better. Three objects... blah, blah. Special snowflake girl... yadda, yadda. I actually got bored in the middle of the climax because Clare foreshadows with a brick. I guessed the ending at the beginning. Seriously, she lacks subtlety.
But I want to mention one main plot twist that should have made me gasp and drop my Kindle to clutch at my heart. Yup, you guessed it, dear reader. The Daddy V reveal. When I was reading the scenes with pacified Jace, I couldn't buy it. It became apparent to me that Clare had manipulated her character so it could suit the moment. There was no natural character progression to fragile, doubting Jace from jackass Jace.
This is how the scene should have went:
DADDY V: Jace, I am your father.
JACE: This isn't Star Wars. I want a DNA test. I know we use magic and all that, but science still exists. Hell, there's probably some magical DNA test. I mean, a couple of items and some convenient circumstances does not the truth make. Wow, I just sounded intelligent there.
Okay, I was pretty liberal with that, but I think I made my point.
That, of course, leads to the whole incest-love thing. I read Martin's Song of Fire and Ice before they were a cable show. Nothing will beat the creepiness that is that incest-romance. Well, nothing that I've come across.
Then there are the inconsistencies:
Mark scars are sometimes described as silver, sometimes as white.
Luke's dagger, then sword, then dagger.
The werewolves are strong enough to break through boarded up windows a couple stories up, but not a roof top door.
Light from the open front door doesn't affect Abaddon. Only the light coming through the skylight. Which, when I read it, I had to assume was dirty or frosted. She never clarified.
Yeah. Cassandra Clare, by royal decree, you need an editor.
There are a thousand other things I could go into like how all the characters have the same wit that isn't funny. Or I could go into detail all of the inexplicable rages Clary flies into. Or mention that Clare actually has Daddy V monologue and throw his head back to laugh. But I'll stop before I find myself bald because I've torn out my hair from looking at my notes.
Before I stop, let me put this in another perspective. As an unpublished writer who reads the work of other unpublished writers, I have come across much better. It's books like these that make me scratch my head. I understand if you want to blow an afternoon reading cotton candy fluff, you know, nothing really special, but there is stuff out there that has characters that are genuinely lovable. And the characters are what really matter because that is what the reader connects to. That is why Cassandra Clare's City of Bones got one star. In the end, I stopped caring.
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