City of Bones, A Study In Irritating Characters


Title: City of Bones
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments #1
Publication date:  March 2007
Publisher:  Margaret K. McElderry Books
ISBN: 1416914285
Length: 485 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Goodreads Description

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.

My thoughts

Okay so I started The Mortal Instruments years ago and I liked the series well enough at the time but I forgot virtually everything (except the ending scene in City of Ashes) so I decided that I should refresh my memory of it, what with the release of Lady Midnight, the new tv show, etc.

I regret this decision, immensely.

This book, oh this book pissed me off to no end.

Now I know this was Cassandra Clare’s debut novel and I shouldn’t judge her too harshly but her writing sounded like mine. At 16. Writing that I currently cringe at whenever I remember it. Basically it was terribly juvenile, grating, and made me feel like I was treading through tar rather than reading a book that has appealed to so many people. I assume this book must’ve gone through editors, so I find it hard to believe no one pointed out that using 4 similes in a single page was too much, not to mention the amount of times Jace is compared to an angel/is described as gold are just too damn high, and then there are other phrases that sound nice without making much sense:

‘soft as the padded blow of a cat’s paw’

I have cats and this made no sense to me, at first. I can infer a meaning, sure, but I feel like it’s only there for show rather than actually being a useful phrase. To take it a step further, the concept of ‘show don’t tell’ seems lost on this novel as well since there are frequent phrases like:

‘As werewolves can’

Why not show me they can hide themselves well enough instead of telling me?? Or at least show it earlier or later in the novel??

I wish I could say the bad writing was just limited to that, without influencing the characters, but alas, that would be a lie. Every. Single. Important. Character. Is. So. Annoying:

  • Clary: she just dives head-first into the whole thing—which would be fine, don’t get me wrong, if she actually sat back and thought for even a single second about what she’s doing. On top of that, she constantly compares herself to Isabelle and bemoans the fact that she’s not ‘beautiful like her mother’ and then gets annoyed when she is called beautiful because ‘Mothers were required to think you were beautiful’. Give me a break. Also she straight up outed Alec?? I mean I know she didn’t do it in front of others but that was such a dick move, I can’t blame Alec for reacting that way. Not to mention her relationship with Simon is just so weird? They don’t come off as best friends so much as childhood friends who grew up together and stayed in contact since they don’t seem to actually talk to each other, and Simon is So. Dependant. On. Clary. It’s unhealthy at this point.
  • Jace: Oh where do I even start with Jace. From the very beginning he’s an absolute dick to everyone, and not the charming and witty kind. While he’s better developed as a character than Clary is, he only gets increasingly irritating as the books goes on, with lines that made me want to fling something out of my 4rth storey window, such as:

‘He [Jace] leaned against the door frame, ignoring the kick of adrenaline the sigh of her [Clary] produced. He wondered why, not for the first time. Isabelle used her beauty like she used her whip but Clary didn’t know she was beautiful at all. Maybe that was why’


‘”Hello” is girly’ he informed her. ‘Real men are terse. Laconic’

Hold me back before I enter that book myself and slap this attitude out of Jace. I don’t care how fast or strong he is, I’ll do it. I promise I will.

But also:

‘In the future Clarissa’ he [Jace] said, ‘it might be wise to mention that you already have a man [In this case, Simon] in your bed, to avoid such situations’

What is that even supposed to mean? You think people never sleep in the same bed without it being sexual? Just because Simon’s a guy, it can’t be innocent? Well then it seems I’ve been in a relationship for the past five years with one of my best friends. Hm… I should probably let him know.

[Attention! Mild spoilers for the end]

And then in the final scene, he just acts so weird? Honestly I wish he were put under a spell because it would make so much more sense. Instead of just bleakly accepting everything Valentine says and then rejecting it from one second to the next.

[Okay, you’re good, no more spoilers]

  • Valentine: I present to you the king of all dramatic performances. The way Valentine talks is so ridiculous, he sounds like a man in the wrong time period rather than an inspiring leader. It both clashes with his character and doesn’t give the Circle the importance it aimed for.

‘Now a nameless monster with his [Luke’s] face stands before me [Valentine]’

I cannot take a man who only speaks like this seriously, I’m sorry, it’s too much.

I understand that her characters can be deemed somewhat realistic what with them being around 16 and 16yo being annoying little shits in some cases (although Clary and Jace read more like they’re 13 if you ask me), but Valentine has no excuse. Meanwhile Hodge comes off as incredibly creepy and obvious; while Jace, Alec and Izzy would’ve been used to it, Clary should’ve realised that something was off when she met him—not to mention the fact that he just agrees to trade the Mortal Cup (which the Clave has been searching for all this time) for Clary’s mother without even questioning a plan a bunch of 16 year olds came up with.

[Attention! Sort of major spoilers for the end]

Of course, the final drop came at the end. You see, Clare sets it up so that Clary and Jace fall in love and expects her readers to want them to become a couple (god knows why, they’re even more annoying together than they are apart), and then she completely pulls the rug out from under us by creating a completely unnecessary obstacle between the two: they’re told they’re actually siblings. Not only is that a blatantly obvious way to just keep them apart for no damn reason, but it also puts the readers in the very disconcerting position of wanting siblings to get romantically involved, and it leads to Even. More. F*****g (we all know what that word is, let’s be serious). Angst on both Clary and Jace’s sides. As if there wasn’t enough already.

[No more spoilers after this]

Plot-wise, the book was actually halfway decent. Apart from a few hiccups where Hodge’s and Luke’s behaviours were concerned, I felt like the book moved along pretty well and the pace was well-balanced as a whole. Granted some scenes, particularly the romantic tension scenes between Clary and [insert character name here], felt like they were going on forever but the action scenes were decent so that made up for it.

Final verdict? I didn’t like reading this book and if it had taken me more than a few days, I would’ve probably just dropped it, along with the rest of the series. I have to admit, I prefer the tv series over the first book at the very least.


16 thoughts on “City of Bones, A Study In Irritating Characters

  1. I haven’t actually bought the mortal instruments. I don’t want to set high expectations because I actually don’t like to be disappointed. I’m glad I’ve read this! I would definitely lower my standards for this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read The Infernal Devices before reading The Mortal Instruments, so the difference in the writing was really obvious to me, which is part of why this first book was so irritating. She definitely gets better at it as the series progresses, but that does take 3 books. I recently finished book 4 and I liked it so much better compared to the others, so if you do end up reading it, I hope you’re prepared to be very patient at first. 🙂


  2. YES YES YES YES YES THIS IS PERFECT THIS IS MY EXPERIENCE WITH THIS BOOK IN ONE BLOG POST OMG. Clary Frac or whatever your stupid name is: when you go around slapping people in the fact when they’ve saved your life, it doesn’t make you a strong, resilient woman who ain’t need no man. It makes you a bitch. A psychotic one.

    And yes she seems to have some kind of THING for using certain words – and those words only – to describe certain things. Every time a wolf pops up, Cassie, you don’t need to call it “bridled”. UGH. SO GLAD SOMEONE HATED THIS AS MUCH AS I DID.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so relieved you like it, I was a bit hesitant to post it at all because this series has so many hardcore fans (for some reason??? That I don’t understand???).
      I read this book so fast that I didn’t immediately hate it, more like I hated the hours I lost reading it but the more I think about it, the worse it gets. Honest to god, I don’t see the appeal in Clary at all. I men she doesn’t even get any better in the next 3 books so I’m still wondering where the praise for her character is coming from. I try not to judge other people’s opinions and tastes but this book is really testing my resolve on that.
      And do not even get me started on the writing. If I have to read about how angel-like/gold/heavenly/etc Jace is, I will stab something. There is foreshadowing and then there’s ‘shoving it down my throat so much that it’s no longer clever’.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I can’t blame you man, I was on the verge of DNFing myself whenever Clary whined. I am doubly disappointed because it could’ve been So. Good. If someone who could actually write had taken up the task.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “Hold me back before I enter that book myself and slap this attitude out of Jace. I don’t care how fast or strong he is, I’ll do it. I promise I will.”

    Do it, do it. But wait until I get the popcorn.

    Are you going to review the rest of the series? Please, oh please review the rest of the series. This post is brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! I had a lot of fun writing it, there’s something about ranting that’s just so satisfying, you know? I am actually going to review the rest of the series, and the next two reviews are going to sound just like this one because it did not get better.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my god, I love this. This is 100% how I feel about the series. And Clare just KEEPS ON WRITING MORE BOOKS. It’s like she can’t bring herself to move away from this one world she’s created (with healthy helpings of plagiarism).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! Apparently she’s planning on writing a grand total of 5 series set in the Shadowhunter world… I’d like to introduce her to the expression ‘beating a dead horse’.


      1. Oh yikes really?? D: Man, even Harry Potter’s world might not have that much source material to pull out. Well…I guess so long as they stop trying to make movies out of them, the world is safe!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. As much as I like HP, I have to agree with you. I hope they dont attempt to make any more films seeing the success of the new books and tv series…


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