City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones (Mortal Instruments #1)256683
Author: Cassandra Clare
Pages: 485
Year: 2007
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Rating: 3.75/5

Goodreads Synopsis: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

After the book hangover I received after The Infernal Devices, I decided to self medicate by reading The Mortal Instruments series. I was underwhelmed… Which was so disappointing because I really loved The Infernal Devices, so I was actually really excited to read Mortal Instruments. But it turned out to be the low-fat, gluten free, diet version of the aforementioned.

Here’s what I liked:

  • The action scenes were written really well. The pacing of said action scenes were realistic and easy to follow and visualize.
  • Plot twists (Even though I already knew about them prior to reading.) were plot twisty. Cassandra Clare knows her plot twists and knows how to shock the ever-living crap out of her readers. (What kind of sick human is Cassandra Clare? Who comes up with this shit?)

Here’s what I didn’t like:

  • Everything else.

Let’s get to know our characters!

Clary Fray:

  • Is a Mary Sue
    • Author surrogate (Come on, Clare… Clary? Seriously?)
    • Able to throw a dagger at a demon despite having never used a weapon prior to this, AKA somehow “blessed” with extraordinary power and skill despite being an ordinary ginger from Brooklyn.
    • Has a tragic backstory in which she was raised by a single parent, *sob* never met her real/fake father, and doesn’t even know she’s a shadowhunter
    • Suffers from “doesn’t know how beautiful she is” syndrome and is somehow oblivious to her endless train of men who are desperately in love with her without cause or reason.
      • Described as petite with red hair and green eyes, but is somehow “too short, too thin, not as beautiful as her mom.” (Gag.)
    • Character flaws include: Angst, stubbornness, girl on girl hate, simple-mindedness, shallowness. Flaws somehow portrayed as “endearing.”
      • Don’t even argue with me on these. Clary is not brave, she is stupid and reckless. She puts herself and others in danger before thinking about the consequences of her actions.
        • For example: In the nightclub she confronts what she thinks is a “gang” because they are threatening a boy she thought was attractive. Instead of calling the police or finding a level 75 Adult™, she decides to venture out on her own and confront a hostile looking group of people with weapons. Bye.


  • Side note: I really hate to hate on Clary because I actually didn’t mind her character thaaaat much… but we have to see her for what she is, and that’s a Mary Sue.

Simon Lewis:

  • Soft Love interest #2
  • Modern King of the Friend-zone, relieving Jem Carstairs of his crown once and for all
  • Follows Clary around like a baby duckling that just hatched and imprinted on her
  • In a band b/c angst
  • Needs to get a grip
  • Tries to make Mary Sue jealous by pretending to be attracted to Modern Jessamine, backfires.

Jace Wayland:

  • Love interest #1
  • Will Herondale but with more narcissism.
  • Sarcasm and knives
  • Tells bizarre stories about how he can’t love or be loved by anyone because his father is a sick SOB who kills people’s beloved pets.
    • Not sure if that’s more tragic than thinking you were cursed by a demon or not.

Alec Lightwood:

  • Gay Jem Carstairs, but with more angst
  • Barely wants to be a shadowhunter, which means our beloved Jessamine trope is alive and well in the Lightwood children.
  • Basically everyone’s mom
  • Also: I ship Alec and Magnus so hard. I hope they get together in a later book, otherwise this was all for naught.

Isabelle Lightwood:

  • Jessamine of the 21st century, except kick-ass
    • AND doesn’t betray anyone for a potato head named Nate.
  • Probably plotting everyone’s death via her cooking

Magnus Bane:

  • Still the Magnus we know and love, with the added twist of being gay
    • Or fluid sexuality or whatever the damn hell the cool kids call it these days. I’ve probably offended half the internet already with this review and we aren’t even through all the characters yet. Please don’t start a flame war in my comments section, this blog is not insured against fire damage.
  • I’m here for it though, it makes sense.

Valentine Morganstern:

  • The most extra name Cassandra Clare could probably come up with.
  • Our resident villain and the father of cliches 😉
    • Seriously, what kind of villain name is Valentine? I feel like Valentine is such a cliche villain name, like Maleficent or Mordecai or Voldemort… You know what would be hilarious? If she named her villain something normal and unassuming like Steven or Jason… Or Chad.


No Charlotte and Henry replacements yet, sadly. Unless you want to count Hodge, who is a limp noodle and gets no character description.

Hodge’s Bird:

  • Attacks Clary for being a Mary Sue and loses

Moving on….

The novel starts out with some angst and a night club. (A night club for 16 year-olds, because convenience.) I’m sure you’ve seen the movie and show, so I won’t go into how this plays out. Clary’s mom is kidnapped by a villain with a stupid name, and Clary figures out that she is a Shadowhunter. (Duh. Did you even read the book, bro?) From there, a plethora of recycled plot points ensue, as well as several (massive) information dumps to move the plot along.


After a quick Q&A with our characters to learn a lot about the Shadowhunter world Clare has created in a short amount of time, we are finally finished with book one.

Kidding…. but seriously there has GOT to be a better way to do this.

Clary takes discovering that her memories have been erased since she was two and that she comes from a world of demon hunting and other mystical creatures surprisingly well. She literally just shrugs like, “oh, okay. That makes sense.” Whereas the rest of us would be making that face Tyrion makes when he sees a dragon for the first time.
Exhibit A: a4d695b856f5c1ca31c6f38f78b36cf1.jpg

There are some brief flashes of anger and outrage over these revelations, but she generally gets over it unfathomably quickly. She doesn’t grow much as a character either, which is strange because usually people change a little bit when they find out they’re actually part of an ancient race of demon hunters.

What Clary does manage to focus on is hating Isabelle for the simple crime of being prettier than her. She actually goes out of her way to be mean to her just because she is jealous. Are you kidding me? Our protagonist is so insecure that she needs to tear down anyone who dares make her feel inferior? You can’t tell me that this is how teenage girls think, and we can’t encourage that kind of behavior or the thought that pretty girls are the enemy. This is portrayed several times throughout the novel, in which some women are portrayed as better than other women in their same situation because of their behavior or looks. What a nice message.

Also, one thing I was looking forward to in this novel were the witticisms that characterized the Infernal Devices series, but I was more or less underwhelmed. There were a few times where I found myself smiling, but I have come to figure out that her characters more or less use the same formula when it comes to humor. And BOY are they cheesy.

Character One: “Asks a simple question.”
Character Two: “That’s hyperbole, bad simile, weird comparison.”
Character Three: “Saracastic comment.”

Mary Sue/Clary finds herself caught in a love triangle between Simon and Jace, and it’s painfully obvious from the beginning who she is going to pick. Jem/Simon never even had a chance, until it is revealed that Jace is Clary’s BROTHER. What?! …WHAT?! (Granted, I already knew about this because the Shadowhunter fandom is terrible at keeping secrets, but still…) This was me:

I feel like this post is very long and critical, and I hate to be so negative because City of Bones wasn’t terrible, just mediocre. The writing isn’t bad, but it isn’t up to the standard that The Infernal Devices set. This was Cassandra Clare’s first book that she published, and I can tell. But it just shows how much she has grown as a writer, and I am all for constant improvement! I know book two will be better!

Last note: Happy publishing anniversary to this book, which will turn 10 on March 27th!

3 thoughts on “City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

  1. Bella says:

    I had almost completely forgotten this book from the first time I read it last summer. Now I remember that these are all my exact thoughts. My memory is refreshed to force myself to read the second book. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. alwaysbooking says:

    I was so sad when I read this book after Infernal Devices. If you stick it out I believe it is worth it, not even for Clary though. I was more interested in Simon as a character. Magnus of course makes all the books worth it… then if you stick it out and read the shadowhunter academy you will enjoy that 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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