Monday, July 30, 2012

CITY OF BONES by Cassandra Clare

Clare, Cassandra. City of Bones. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007. 485 pages. Tr., $19.99. ISBN: 978-1416914280

Plot: Clary Fray and her friend Simon go to a Manhattan nightclub, expecting a fun if uneventful night. Attracted to an unusual stranger, Clary wanders into a small janitor’s room off the club just in time to witness a murder involving some very edgy club kids with tattoos. It turns out the tattoos aren’t just tattoos and the club kids are not quite human. When Clary realizes that her mother has disappeared, she is sure that these unusual creatures, Shadowhunters, are involved in the disappearance and can probably help her. The closer she gets to one of them, a laconic blonde named Jace, the more convinced she is that her fate (and maybe her history) is tied up with the Shadowhunters.
Together, she, her best friend Simon, Jace, and other Shadowhunters -- all attractive but with prickly or otherwise difficult personalities -- go on a hunt for her mother. It takes them into a strange netherworld, a parallel universe of Harley-driving vampires, punk fairies, and sinister, party-throwing warlocks.   
In her frantic search, Clary Fray gets swept up into bizarre supernatural parallel world and discovers strange things about her family and herself. In grave danger, Clary must navigate this rich urban fantasyland while romantically torn between her best friend and the difficult demon hunter, Jace.

Critical Evaluation: This book is reminiscent of some very popular fantasy novels. The world-within-a-world is reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s Neverworld and the love triangle certainly smacks of Twilight, only with a mortal wing.
Though some of the plot elements and characterization seems contrived at times, Clare manages to create a rich urban netherworld that is full of excitement and surprises. Doors open into other worlds, stereotypes of magical creatures are stood on their heads, and entire realms are painted with an attention to humor and detail. As the story unfolds, the plot reaches back in time to another generation, thus creating a breadth and a depth to the tale that makes readers want to continue peeling back the layers of time and place.
Clare is also good at capturing the tension Clary feels between wanting to know the truth and a fear of disrupting the order of things. This will kick off a serious hunger to know what happens in the other books in the” Mortal Instruments” series, which get richer and more realized as the story continues.

Reader’s Annotation: When Clary sees a murder at a nightclub and then her own mother disappears, she gets swept into a magical, dangerous underworld where she has to trust strange and unsavory creatures in order to find her mom before it’s too late.

Author bio: Though her parents are American, Clare was born in Tehran and spent her early years in France, Switzerland, and England, and then eventually in Los Angeles. She has worked for The Hollywood Reporter and other entertainment magazines.
            She came up with an idea to blend tattoos and magic, and the result was City of Bones. Her favorite books are the Narnian Chronicles by C.S. Lewis. She says that she loves secret worlds.


Genre: Fantasy, paranormal romance.

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas: 1) Describe, even act out, the first scene in the nightclub which sets off the mystery.
2) Ask questions – What would you do if you found out that your family had something to do with some extremely dangerous magical creatures…and you had to save them?
3) Describe the love triangle between Clary, shadowhunter Jace, and her best friend, Simon, who is beginning to feel like more than a friend.

Reading Level: 4
Interest Age: 14+

Challenge Issues: Magic, sorcery, sexually charged atmosphere.
Challenge Response: 1) Have articles on the importance of reading fantasy books on hand:
2) Have reviews like the School Library Journal recommendation for school libraries available:

Why Included: This series is incredibly popular with teens who have read Twilight and are seeking an involved fantasy-romance series.

Why Included: This series is incredibly popular with teens who have read Twilight and are seeking an involved fantasy-romance series.


  1. This book is awesome if you like a rich fantasy and awesome love story with serious complications. These characters really stayed with me.