Monday, October 14, 2013

Book Review - City Of Bones

***Spoiler Alert: If, for some reason, you haven't read this book yet, and don't want to know what happens, then wait to read this blog post.***

Chances are you have at least heard of the series The Mortal Instruments.  The first book in the series is City of Bones, which I've recently finished reading.  From the beginning of the book, I couldn't help by think that there was something familiar about this book.  Let me tell you a few things about this book first.  Maybe you'll agree that it feels familiar.

Characters in the book include:
*Clary Fray
*Luke (Lucian)
*Magnus Bane
*Jocelyn Fray

There are, of course, many other characters that come and go throughout the book.  These are the ones that come up most often or that you REALLY need to know.

Now, here are some of the big things in the novel:

*Valentine was a Shadowhunter.  Now he's determined to destroy all downworlders.  That includes Shadowhunters.  
*Valentine, at his high point, had a following of people called The Circle.
*Most people were in The Circle because they were scared of Valentine.
*Members trying to fight The Circle were called the Clave.
*Valentine was "killed" and now people believe that he is fighting to make a comeback.  
*The humans in this series are called mundanes, or mundies for short.
*There is a place where the Shadowhunters hang out called the Institute.  It's like a safe haven of sorts, and it's run by Hodge.
*The Shadowhunters are out to destroy the evil downworlders.  This includes werewolves and vampires who drink human blood.
*Clary hates Isabelle.  The only reason I can sense for her hating Isabelle is that Isabelle is pretty.  Really.  That's it.  At one point, she refers to Isabelle as a bitch because Isabelle didn't stop Simon from drinking some potion at Magnus's party.  The potion turned Simon into a rat, but really how could Isabelle have known Simon was going to drink it?
*Magnus cast a spell on Clary to make her forget that she is, in fact, a Shadowhunter. 

Okay, now raise your hand if any of that sounds familiar?  Raise your hand if you've read the Harry Potter books or seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer?  When I really started getting into this book, I kept thinking I was watching Buffy or re-reading a Harry Potter book.  That's not a compliment.  

I was curious, so I did a little snooping around about Cassandra Clare.  She uses a pen name that she used to spell Cassandra Claire.  After looking around, I found out that Cla(i)re was caught plagiarizing the work of another popular fanfic writer.  There was one incident, in fact, where she copied an entire chapter of said authors fanfic into her own writing.  She figured that changing the spelling of her last name would make it harder for people to figure this out.  So, after hearing about this, it comes as no surprise to me that City of Bones feels so familiar.  

In case you haven't read Harry Potter (as if those people exist!) here are some things that are similar:

1. Both have bad guys that have "died" and risen to power again.  Valentine is the Voldemort of The Mortal Instruments series.

2. Both have a group of people who follow the bad guy.  In Harry Potter, you may recognize those people as Death Eaters.  In this series, they are referred to as The Circle.  In both series, people are part of this group out of fear.

3. Humans are referred to by a name that sets them apart from the downworlders.  In HP, they are muggles.  In The Mortal Instrument, they are mundanes.

4. There are a group of people dedicated to fighting The Circle.  They call themselves the Clave.  In HP, there are a group of people dedicated to fighting Voldemort and the death eaters.  They are known as the Order of the Phoenix. 

Now, as if that wasn't enough, there are also some similarities between this book and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the popular Joss Whedon series in which Buffy slays evil vampires.  The most notable similarities are:

1. The Institute.  In this series of books it is a safe place for Shadowhunters to hang out.  In Buffy, it a is a place for Riley and his fellow fighters of evil to hang out and learn new things.

2. Buffy is out to kill vampires.  However, there is one vampire she doesn't kill because he has a soul and because she's also completely in love with him.  Angel, her lover for the first three seasons, is the one exception to the rule.  In The Mortal Instruments series, the exception is: vampires who drink animal or synthetic blood (which, now that I think about it, sounds a lot like True Blood).  If they drink human blood, they are seen as evil and therefore, must be killed.

In addition to the similarities to other fantasy books/shows, here are some other things I didn't really like about this book, including:

*It's a touch predictable. 

*Clary is rude and disrespectful to pretty much every person she meets

Now, here are some things I did like about this book:

*I like Isabelle.  Underneath her rough, Shadowhunting exterior lies someone who I see as a nice person.

*It's not poorly written.

When all is said and done, this book has a good story.  It's just too bad that Cassandra Clare felt that she had to copy other stories in order to make this book work.  I'll put it this way:  I think it would behoove Clare to come up with something unique and original.  She has the potential to be great, and she won't get there by copying other people's stories.  I would give this book a C for the story, but an F for copying.  Next time, don't be afraid to come up with something that you created, Ms. Clare.

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