After hearing as much as I have about The Mortal Instruments series, from students, authors, and bloggers, I finally got around to reading the first book, CITY OF BONES, for myself...and I can see what all the fuss it about. I feel as if one of the strongest signs of a really good book is one that you carry with you everywhere you go, just in case you get a few minutes to read, one that you pick over watching tv, one that you stay up late reading - City of Bones met all of those criteria for me.
This book hooked me from the beginning when Clary meets Jace, Isabelle, and Alec in a club as they're killing a demon, and realizes that no one else can see them. There's a mystery as to how she got The Sight in order to see these Shadow Hunters and demons that is explored throughout the novel. Shortly after she meets them, her mother is kidnapped, and the rest of the story follows her journey as she learns about the Downworld (where there are demons, warlocks, witches, faeries, vampires, and werewolves, oh my!) learns about her mother's past that she kept secret from Clary, and does what she can to find and save her mother. Along the way she is helped by her best friend Simon and of course Jace, Isabelle, and Alec.
There is a lot of action, suspense, and character in this book. The plot moves forward well and made me want to keep reading to find out what would happen next. There really weren't any slow parts to it at all. Everything is described so well that the fight scenes and all parts of the story were clearly pictured in my head as I read. I really liked the character of Clary, she's a strong girl who is going to stick up for what she knows to be right and for those she loves and cares about. I also really enjoyed the secondary characters, as I did feel as if I got to know them. And, of course, there is a bit of a love triangle going on throughout the story, but with an interesting twist at the end, which makes me really want to read the next book in the series to find out what's going to happen.
Here's the thing about a book like this - it's the kind of book where you really have to pay attention to the parts of the story when everything about this unknown world is being explained. I even had to go back a chapter later when more information was given and reread the first explanation told - this is a good thing because it means that there is enough given in the book for me to make sense of this world. These parts of the story are so important because they give you the background to the world and help you understand the motivations for everything that happens in the story. Cassandra Clare does a really good job of creating and explaining the history of this world, you just need to pay attention to it. When Simon is first exposed to the truth about what's happening in this unknown to humans (or mundanes) world, Clary says the one thing that I think most readers need to remember when reading books in this genre: "I know it's weird, but you just have to go along with it. Trust me." And trust me - if you do, you'll get the sucked into this story just like everyone else has.
One of my favorite things about this book is Cassandra Clare's writing style. She writes beautiful descriptions along with some humorous interactions among the characters - a great balance to each other to create an intriguing writing style that keeps the plot moving forward but also pulls the reader into a beautifully crafted story. One of my favorite examples was this line that she wrote when describing Hodge: "When he smiled at Clary, a thousand small lines rayed out from around his eyes, like the cracks in an old painting." Her use of similes and metaphors in her writing only enhances the story, and throughout, I was able to picture it and feel as if I was there and engaged in the story.
I will definitely be reading the rest of this series, and anything else Cassandra Clare writes! Luckily, I waited long enough, that I know the other two books in The Mortal Instruments series, City of Ashes and City of Glass, are already out, so I won't have to wait to find out what happens to Clary, Jace, and everyone else. Also, she is writing another three books in the series to come out in spring 2011- City of Fallen Angels, spring 2012 - City of Lost Souls, and fall 2013 - City of Heavenly Fire and I know I'll be anxiously waiting to read those as well. Cassandra Clare also has written a companion series, The Infernal Devices, which goes back in time to Victorian England as a prequel of sorts as it is one hundred years earlier than Clary's story, within the world of the Shadow Hunters. The first book, Clockwork Angel comes out August 31st, Clockwork Prince releases fall 2011, and Clockwork Princess in winter 2012. Which all means we'll be getting two books from Cassandra Clare every year to read and stay with these characters and the world of the Shadow Hunters!
5 Stars for CITY OF BONES