Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Book Title: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Pages: 485
Published: 2007
Find it at: Amazon / Flipkart
(I got it free from Kindle Unlimited!)
My Rating: 4/5!

Another book series I didn’t read while the world was going crazy about it. (I just DON’T know what’s with my aversion to reading books at the same time as others). I wish I had read it before. City of Bones introduces us to a new world—dark, mysterious and fascinating—a world that’s closely intertwined with ours, visible only to those with the Sight. There are humans, of course (called ‘mundanes’ because we can’t see the real excitement in the world, I guess) and then there are Shadowhunters, who are part human and part angel. The Mortal Cup is an instrument that was used to make the first Shadowhunters (by mixing in blood of humans and angels and getting a prospective Shadowhunter to drink it. I’d have thought a vampire would like it more). There are also the Downworlders, creatures that have demonic blood or tendencies in them (include everything else—vampires, werewolves, faeries, etc). In City of Bones, we see how all these worlds mix up in the quest to fight the feared Shadowhunter-gone-wrong called Valentine, who wants the world full of “pure blood” Shadowhunters and absolutely no demons.

That’s the background. The story is narrated in third person, but the central character of the story is Clarissa (Clary) Fray, a fifteen year old living in Brooklyn with her mother, Jocelyn. She has a best friend, Simon. One evening when Clary and Simon are visiting the popular hangout club Pandemonium, Clary witnesses a murder. The baffling thing was, the victim’s body evaporated and she was the only one who could see the killers—teenagers just like herself. Clary is drawn into a world she had no memories of, meets people she should have known but doesn’t, and realizes that what she knew about herself was barely true.

City of Bones has a compelling storyline. Though I could draw some parallels with other books (such as Harry Potter), I do think that this story stands on its own, particularly in terms of characters and their motivations. The author lays heavy emphasis on past events, relationships and emotions of characters to control their behaviour in the present. Every character has a backstory that validates their actions or thoughts, and it feels so realistic. That’s probably one of the best things about this book. Sure, there were some places where the characters seemed to be acting on sudden impulses or had changed emotions in a jiffy, which felt too rushed to me, but it wasn’t really bothersome. The characters are memorable, to say the least.

There is a good amount of action and suspense too, fairly presented and well-spaced. Because the story focuses on family dynamics too, one of the major twists pertained to familial ties, and it was indeed so surprising, I totally did NOT see it coming. Another thing I found different and “fresh” about a YA novel such as this was that it also touches upon sensitive themes such as family separation, being an outcast and homosexuality.

Some parts in the story were quite touching and sad. Needless to say, I loved the balanced mix of everything. It was appealing in a curious way… despite all the darkness, the raw discomfort of what was happening, I couldn’t put the book down. At first, it was interesting but not as gripping as I thought it would be—I had a feeling it was overrated—but it seemed to pick up pace after about 40% and then it was hard to put it down. I did read a lot of it while I should have been working. The writing style is good… pretty normal, I guess, because I didn’t observe it that much, except that some really good vocab is used in places and I was just wondering how each character has such a good repertoire of vocab.

This book came as a ‘different’ kind of story compared with the ones I’d been reading the past two years. It relates more to the YA books I read while in college, and the reading experience felt very good. I’ve begun to read City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) and I’m already excited!! Any of you read these books?

(Sharing some quotes from the book below):

“The boy never cried again, and he never forgot what he'd learned: that to love is to destroy, and that to be loved is to be the one destroyed.”

“Where there is love, there is often also hate. They can exist side by side.”

“All knowledge hurts.”

 PS- I'm not much of a movie person but I just saw that there's a movie on this!!!! I don't like the feel of the characters (in the photographs) though. Books are always so much better. 


  1. Those quotes!! Even though hearing of the theme and storyline, I am not very likely to read the book anytime soon (for personal reasons od course, which you'd know). But I totally love the quotes that you've shared here and think that reading the series would be a personally rewarding experiemce to good extent.

    Thanks for alwaus introducing me to new series and books Ashna. Not having heard of this shows how I am much far from being an active reader :P

    Waiting for the next review ^_^

    1. Thanks! :D Even I haven't got to finishing the series. I loved it while reading it, but it hasn't been the kind of series you'd feel depressed not finishing... at least for me. I wouldn't mind reading it, but it wouldn't kill me if I didn't, either.


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