Last year, I read Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. It was okay, nothing special, yet it seemed to be a real darling in the YA world. I’d be hanging out in the YA section at bookshops and seeing girls squealing about The Mortal Instruments, I’d buy books similar to TMI or The Infernal Devices, and the clerk would tell me I should check Ms. Clare’s books out too… So eventually, I got around to readingCity of Bones, the first in the series.
I really didn’t enjoy it.
It starts out strong enough, gradually introducing us to the world of magical creatures, children of the night, witches, warlocks, demons, and those who slay them. Clary, our main character, goes to a nightclub with her friend but stumbles across something she shouldn’t see: kids her age slaying a demon and talking in a snippy manner to each other. And she also shouldn’t even be able to see them, considering they use ‘glamours’ and various runic markings to make sure that regular humans (or Mundies/Mundanes/Muggles/Mortie-Muds/whatever the fuck you want to call them, it’s a massiveHarry Potter rip-off either way) can’t see them.
So Clary goes home, then goes out again, then comes back, only to find that her apartment has been ransacked. And since it’s a YA novel, this happens right after a tiff with her mother. While she’s trying to find mummy dearest, a low-level demon attacks her, and she’s rescued by one of the people she saw that night: Jace Wayland. His kind are called Shadowhunters, and they’re descendants of the Nephilim, or something like that.
What follows on from that is Clary trying to uncover the mystery behind her mother’s disappearance, learning about the creatures of the otherworld who co-exist with us in secret, and discovering that she, le gasp, is the daughter of a Shadowhunter! And still needs to look out for her mum, so away we go on more demon-slaying adventures that seem to take place in night clubs, alleyways, and industrial lofts!
Also, because this is a YA novel that likes to go off on a tangent, there are a few times where the overarching plot is sacrificed so we can, you know, have Jace dump his backstory on us. Or have them sit in a greenhouse together. Or we can have a werewolf explain his life story and his relation to Clary in an entire, boring as hell chapter. It’s a load of ideas cobbled badly together.
The characters really got on my nerves, unfortunately.
Clary just didn’t do it for me as a heroine. I don’t quite understand why, because even though she’s pretty much a blank slate character the reader is supposed to project onto, we have a few things in common: short temper, we both like reading, we both like watching anime, what have you… But having her as the narrator just really got on my nerves. Maybe it was the fact that her thoughts were like a pinball machine at times. There’s one scene where there’s a massive flock of vampires crowded around them, but Clary and Jace had the good thinking to take a hostage. She looks around at the vampires and takes a paragraph to ponder about whether or not there are ugly or fat vampires in the world, because they’re all so beautiful. What the hell? And the first time she sets foot in a church, it makes her hark back to an anime she saw that had an evil vampire priest, which doesn’t give her much confidence about the church’s safety? Yes, just like that: PING PING PING “Anime vampires in churches!” PING PING PING “Do vampires turn people based on their looks?” PING PING PING“Manga!” PING PING PING “Warlocks and witches are sterile?” PING PING PING “Jace looks so cool right now!” PING PING PING “I wonder if all Shadowhunters are beautiful, because I’m most certainly not!” Eurgh.
Alec and Isabel got such little time to be developed I hardly noticed that they were there sometimes. One thing that really did bother me, though, was Clary asking Isabel if Alec was gay. Isabel asks Clary how she knew, and then forbids her from telling Jace or anyone else, because being gay is apparently frowned upon in Shadowhunter society. Just like that. Is there any reason…? Is it some kind of religious quagmire to Shadowhunters? Would Alec be cast out of society? Would he be forced to stop being demon-slaying bros with Jace? No? You’re never going to mention it again? Oh, okay, then.
Jace was an arrogant arsehole, and I just found him completely unbearable to read. All of his snarky comments didn’t make me laugh, they just made me roll my eyes in how obvious Ms. Clare was being in trying to create a sarcastic, cold-hearted bad boy brat.
The villains just… really didn’t do anything for me either. Valentine wasn’t scary, and the reveal near the end that a certain character really was selling information to the other side felt really rushed. It was just like in Clockwork Angel, where we had to suffer through a rather slow third act and were then thrown into a hurried explanation about the main villain and his motives in the last fifty or so pages. I was so bored that I was skim-reading it. And I rarely do that. It became more of an obligation rather than something I enjoyed reading. I just wanted to plough through it and put the whole sorry mess behind me.
I apologise, fans of Ms. Clare’s work, I just don’t enjoy it. She’s just another Holly Black to me. I do have Clockwork Prince on my reading list, yes, but I didn’t enjoy the first book of the original series, but quite liked the spin-off, so I guess you could call it my guilty pleasure. 1/5.