Tuesday, June 2, 2009

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Clary Fray is no ordinary teenage girl. After she witnesses a murder in a New York City nightclub, everything goes awry in her life: her mother disappears after leaving her a cryptic message, she can suddenly see dead people – oh, no wait, they might be alive, but with weird markings on their arms, oh yeah, and one of them is really hot – and demons want to suck out her brains, vampires want to drink her blood, and werewolves want to just end her life. Clary’s had a bad week.

If you want to read some really good reviews of this book, check it out on goodreads. The first few on the list mirror my thoughts so exactly, that I don’t want to just repeat what they said here. Instead I’ve made a little overview list of my own, and if I ever decide to write a book, I’ll have something to refer to as a quick guide to unbridled success in the current teenage fiction market.

- Name the main character after yourself. --Check

- Use italics for emphasis on almost every page. --Check, Check

- Compare everything from the taste in your mouth, to the smell in the room to old paper. (I’m not exactly sure how old paper tastes. Is anybody sure? Is there a Bertie Botts Every Flavor Bean with that flavor? If anybody would know it’d be this author, because she obviously likes Harry Potter, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Star Wars.. a lot.) --Check

- Be sure to have one extremely long 'how I became a werewolf and why' scene description similar to another book that I too found way too long.. --Check

- Make everybody smell like blood and sweat at some point in the story, and yes they are a stinky lot because of it. --Check

- Make the bad guy (or at least I assumed he was bad, because by the end I wasn’t so sure) Voldermort, Darth Vader, and your dad on any given bad day rolled into one and you’ve got your villain! --Check

- Reveal a plotline in the end that made me cry aloud, “Eeeww!” --Check

- Have everything have a convenient fix, whether it’s a quick, as yet unknown magical fix or good-guy-gone-bad fix, for no reason whatsoever other that to drive the plot to some end. --Check

- Make the anti-hero/love interest so much like Spike in Buffy that I wanted to watch him in his original form again. Sigh…. (Did you catch that word, original? It’s a new concept here.) --Check

- Am I being a little harsh? --Check, Check, Check. Oh well, you don’t have to read this ramble if it was your favorite book. Oh, but wait, it's too late! You've already read it if you've gotten this far! Hee-hee (insert maniacal sounding Dr. Evil laugh here). 2 stars

~~As a side note, I hear the author improves a little, and that the other two in the series are better. So, if I have nothing better to do, like say cleaning my house, I’ll probably give the series at least one more try just to give her the benefit of the doubt. Because in a battle between cleaning my house and reading, which do you think wins? Hmm...


Amanda said...

A Meyer knockoff too? I didn't realize this. You missed one on your list though, Lula: first become a famous fan-fic writer online, so that publishers will buy your book no matter what it reads like.

This just confirms my nondesire to read this book. I thought maybe I'd give it a try, just in case...no.

Amanda said...

And btw, Cassandra Clare doesn't come off as such a nice girl by Melissa Anelli's description in Harry, a History. She comes off more as a backstabbing liar, and that's apart from any fanfic copying she did.

L said...

A lot of the comments on goodreads mention her fan fiction, and I must admit I've never heard of any of that before now. Several people really blasted her earlier work. She definitely borrows alot of previously used concepts here, and personally I thought her writing subpar at best, but who am I to say I guess. Just my opinion here. I can't imagine that you would like this book, but you and I have differed before... ;P

I've got to get my hands on Harry,a history soon.

Amanda said...

Awhile back, a friend of a friend on Facebook pointed me to a link about her fanfic. It laid out pages-long passages side by side with other works of fiction (Buffy, Harry, etc), and bolded everything that was word-for-word the same. At least half of the passage was bolded.

Actually, I had this book on my tbr list and I think it's still on my goodreads, but after reading the excerpts from her fanfic (forgetting altogether the fact that she cobbled it from other sources for a moment), I don't think I will. Her writing just didn't impress me. Not the writing that was her own, nor her ability to cobble stuff together so that it barely made sense. I wish I had that link, I'd post it for you...maybe I'll go ask for it.

Ceri said...

Haha. Wow. I'd heard of these books and always wondered whether they were worth reading. Think I'll give it a miss now ;-)

Amanda said...

Yay! I wrote to the friend of a friend and got that link Lula:


L said...

Lady Laz - I don't know, you might like them. There are a few people in the world who do. Stephenie Meyer and Holly Black are two of them. It's probably why she got published in the first place.

Amanda - I tried that link and maybe my computer is slow, but I couldn't get anything to pull up. Dang it!

hamilcar barca said...

it's possible that Stephenie Meyer and Holly Black think City of Bones is forgettable, but happen to be friends of Cassandra Clare.

two of the "biggies" in the Alt-History genre are S.M. Stirling and Harry Turtledove. You can't pick up a book by either one and not see a promo by the other, just gushing over with praise for the new book.

the fact is - the two are old friends. so they scratch each other's back when it comes to book promos. bottom line - the opinions by both of them are meaningless.

Amanda said...

If I recall correctly, both Cassie Clare and Holly Black were part of the circle of YA authors that Justine Larbalestier thanked for being part of her first round editing group. I remember laughing at the mix of all the authors, imagining them at a writing group like mine, all hashing out their current WIPs and editing together. I no longer have Larbalestier's book, I had to send it back to the library, but I could have sworn both names were on it, so Terry you might be right.

Julie said...

Lula- I thought your review was so entertaining to read & it sounds more so than the book! I really liked your creatively done "check" off list. I think I'll pass on reading this book as well.

Christina said...

This review made me laugh. I once dropped an author for over use of italics, there was at least one or two on every page. I can understand using italics for a telepathic's thoughts, but overuse for emphasis loses it's appeal quick. I've read some "popular" authors and just couldn't get through the book because of bad writing, plot and/or character development, emphasis on sex and blood. It worries me if this is the route fantasy is taking. Did vampires suck the life out of good writing and leave zombies and werewolves to clamor over the remains? I hope not.

L said...

There were zombies in this book too! But she called them "the forsaken" you know, cuz that's different, somehow.. I'm sure it is. Oh, and I almost forgot (crap it all)one more thing, she calls human people "mundanes". Sound like another word anyone's heard of? Oh, I don't know, like mu-ggles!!!

Amanda said...

Vampires, werewolves, zombies, all wrapped up in one book...doesn't that seem a little overboard?

L said...

You have no idea.