The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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Most of you will be aware that City of Bones is now a film, very recently premiered. There are a few film reviews out already and my pick is that it will do very well as a film in the teen-sensation kind of way. Should you read the book? Hopefully this post will help you decide.

I was recommended City of Bones by some 15 year old girls who were reading it for the umpteenth time, declaring the Mortal Instruments series as ‘like, the best books ever’. I can’t say I agree with that pronouncement, however I did get caught up in the series. My main frustration was that the plot is dragged out over 6 novels, one yet to be published. I thought mistakenly when I started reading that they were a trilogy. The genre is fantasy and it is definitely adolescent fiction – it’s exciting to read and doesn’t take too much brain power. Perfect for those evenings  when your day has been too hard and you just need to escape into the pages of a delicious book.

As with many teenage texts, there is a focus on finding your identity. Clary, our protagonist, has been kept in the dark on who she really is, her identity concealed for her own safety. But she soon begins to see the spirit world and things her mind should have blocked become clear. Once Clary knows she is a shadow hunter she must discover her supernatural talents and learn all the skills she has missed while living her life as an ordinary human. She also has to navigate her attraction to the shadow hunter Jace.

At this point I have to say that I got a lot of Star Wars vibes with regards to some of the character relationship issues. I promise I’m not giving too much away, but… there’s an evil father and love triangles with the awkward issue of possible incest. I don’t mean to detract from either story in pointing this out, I  mean, I love Star Wars and I enjoyed these books. What is interesting to point out is that it’s a storyline we don’t get that often. Incest is an issue most people have a fairly strong reaction to and Clare plays on this to build up a bit of suspense and interest for how things will unfold. A good friend of mine said to me about a year or so ago that she though incest would become the next big issue to be explored by media. Maybe she was on to something!

As I read this novel my imagination was particularly captured by references to the Bible and Dante along with other classic texts . For starters the premise is based on the existence of a spiritual realm in which the nephilim or shadow hunters fight against forces of evil. This idea is taken from the Bible, namely Genesis 6.1-4.

” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.”

This always fascinated me as a kid (and still does!) I think it probably is what spurred my interest in mythology and the ancient world. Maybe the heroes of old did exist. Maybe they still do. Maybe they’re out there now… If you’ve ever indulged that idea (and enjoy teenage fiction) then these books will be right up your alley.

City of Bones is a quick read. You can really get lost in this story world and become caught up in the intrigues and romance as you follow Clary’s story. If you are like me and you can’t just stop at book one then you may find The Mortal Instruments to be quite an undertaking. I may have complained a lot when nothing had been resolved at the end of book three but I did thoroughly enjoy the whole series, and yes I will be reading the next book when it comes out and I will be going to see the  movie when it reaches the far flung shores of New Zealand.

These books are definitely aimed at girls, especially considering the prevalent descriptions of outfits and hot boys. However Clare writes intelligently, balancing the vivid visual elements with literary allusion.

My rating 3.5/5

Want to read them? Buy the box set here.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

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