Monday, 30 December 2013

City of Bones

Level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy>Urban Fantasy
Obtained: Amazon
Reviewed by: Maggie W.


I'm a bit so so on the cover of this book. I like that at the bottom are the grave stones since during part of the book they visit a place under a cemetery. I also like the fact that the cover model has the tattoo marks that the shadowhunters in the books have all over them. What I don't like it how the cover seems almost slapped together.

About the Book:

This book is the first in a series by Cassandra Clare. The author actually started off writing fanfiction for Harry Potter and I had read a few of her fics before they were taken down. Soon after she announced that she had gotten a deal to publish her first book. So far there are five published novels in the series with a sixth being written currently.

Rating: 6/10

I first read this book after it was first published in 2007. I enjoyed it then and purchased the next book when it was released but lost it half way though reading it and sort of forgot about it. When I heard that they were making a movie based on the first book of the series it reminded me of how much I liked the book so I decided a reread was in order.

Clary is different, and not in the tired, I'm just so unique, no one really understands me hipster kind of way. No, it's more in the oh dear lord there's a giant fanged venomous monster attempting to eat her kind of way, but that doesn't come til later. Clary lives in New York with her mother. Her father died when she was baby, her mother had told her. Clary spends most of her free time with her best friend Simon. It's while she and Simon are out at a local teen goth club that things start to change.

Somehow while at at Pandemonium, she stumbles into what she thinks is a murder. Clary sees a girl lead another boy into a supply room, and notices that two other boys, one of which looks to be carrying a knife followed the two in the room. Clary sends Simon off to find a bouncer in case there's trouble.

After sneaking into the room behind them, she can only see the first boy tied to a post in the room, until slowly a girl and two boys appear out of thin air. She listens in as the boy tied up tries to convince the others that he has valuable information about a person named Valentine. Disbelieving him, one boy raises some kind of weapon to kill him when Clary jumps out of hiding to prevent it. It's a toss up over who was more shocked that she was there, Clary, or the teens attempting to commit murder.

Turns out, it wasn't actually a person they were trying to kill, it was demon. While distracted by the fact that Clary shouldn't even be able to see them, the demon breaks out of his bonds and goes for the boy that was going to kill him. After a scuffle, the three are able to subdue and kill the demon, and Clary watches as it gets smaller and smaller until it disappears completely.

Afterwards the Shadowhunters don't understand how Clary had seen them but don't want her involved in any way. A few days later Clary's mother, Jocelyn, announces that she and Clary will be moving out of the city for the summer. After getting into a huge argument about it Clary leaves to go to a poetry reading for a friend with Simon at a coffee shop. 

It's at the coffee shop that Clary again sees one of the Shadowhunters and decides to confront him. Jace tells Clary all about Shadowhunters and the person she thought she saw them murder was actually a demon. During their talk, Clary gets a frantic phone call from her mother, telling her not to come home, but the phone cuts out causing Clary to panic and head straight home. 

She arrives home to find the apartment torn apart and her mother nowhere to be found. A giant fanged demon attacks her but some how she's able to kill it after being bitten. Shortly after she passes out but luckily Jace had followed her home and he takes her to the Institute (Shadowhunter Headquarters in New York) to cure her of the demon's poison. 

Clary finds out that the reason she was able to see what she saw is because her mother and father were both Shadowhunters. Her father, Valentine formed a group that tried to overthrow the Shadowhunter's government which is why her mother took her and ran. For years the Shadowhunters believed Valentine to be dead after his house caught on fire but he faked his own death and was biding his time to attempt a takeover again. Valentine was the one who kidnapped Clary's mother.

To keep the spoilers to a minimum, the rest of the book is Jace and Clary trying to find out where Valentine has hidden her mother and the chaos that ensues. 


I really liked that Clary seemed to at least try not to be the stereotypical useless teen female book character. She's was more of the oh, you're trying to kill but I'm going to at least go down swinging. I also really enjoyed the author's take on the half human half angel mythology. She did a really great job with building a whole world and history for the Shadowhunters, as well as many of the other supernatural creatures in the story. Even though they weren't featured as much in this book as in later books in the series she did have a few LGBT characters in Alec and Magnus. 


A few times while reading the details seemed to be thrown out pretty casually so it was hard to keep some straight, so I had to reread a couple passages to make sure I caught everything. I feel like Jace and Clary got together a bit too quickly. I would have enjoyed it more if there would have been a bit more build up. Also when it comes to Simon and Clary I would have loved it if Simon wouldn't have ended up having feelings for Clary. I've always been a big fan of teen fiction showing the fact that boys and girls can be friends with each other without wanting to get into each other's pants. 

What I'm Reading Next:

Friday, 20 December 2013

Film vs. Book: Catching Fire

For those of you who read my Hunger Games film vs book review, you more than likely picked up on the fact that I wasn't overly fond of the film. I thought it to be an okay representation of the novel. Catching Fire, meanwhile, was ... AWESOME! Unlike The Hunger Games, I felt that Catching Fire did a much better job of portraying the feel of the books. Like The Hunger Games, Catching Fire did an excellent job with the time on how much was spent on The Capitol/Districts and how much was spent in the actual games. Now, I have heard a few people complain that there was too much time in The Capitol, which I strongly disagree with. Like The Hunger Games film, our time is spent about half in the districts/Capitol and half in the Games. Plus, one of the main purposes of Catching Fire is showing the pitfalls of being a celebrity and the fact that you can never really stop acting. Catching Fire also shows the other ways that The Capitol can control the districts, and the film captured it beautifully. Overall, the acting was fantastic, the musical score wonderfully places, and the story paced well. In fact, dare I say I enjoyed the movie even more than the book? Now, there was still a couple things I would have liked to see, but more of the good first.

One of the things I liked about the film more was it was better paced. A lot of this had to do with cutting out and skimming bits, especially the love triangle.Now, I am not completely against love triangles but neither am I a huge fan of them. However, I didn't mind it as much in the Hunger Games trilogy for two major reasons. One: it wasn't the main focus nor did Katniss push aside more important matters to worry about which boy she liked more. It was just another problem, something that happened. Two: it helped to bring home the fact that Katniss really didn't have a choice due to Snow and the Games. The Capitol controlled her life. Still, I am glad that the movie shortened the romance bit. I felt it dragged a little too much in the book (not enough for me to be annoyed though). Effie is also able to shine a lot more here than in the book and had several scenes that could strike an emotional cord. Actually, all the characters get to shine a lot more in the Catching Fire film (with the exception of Gale) so that the audience ought to become as invested as us readers (one of the major issues I had with The Hunger Games film). Oh, bit I could go on and on about all the things the movie got right, but let us focus on what it did better. Personally, I found the movie handled Katniss's PTSD more favourably. That isn't to say the book did a poor job; however, the film managed to show the severity and trauma to a much greater extent.

Of course, not everything can be perfect. Although there were a few things I would have liked to see such as [Book spoiler] one of the old peacekeepers getting turned into an Avox [end spoiler] or the new peacekeepers trying to trap Katniss in the woods by turning on the electricity in the fence, the movie still soared without them. Yes, they were nice moments, but they weren't needed. Really, there was only one thing I wish they had added. There is this one scene in the book where Katniss comes across some fugitives. This scene introduces Katniss to the fact that the mockingjay is being used as a symbol of revolution (though the film managed to capture this well). It also talks more about District 13. Yes, the film mentions District 13, but it only comes up three times, not really a lasting impact. In the book, Katniss is told that The Capitol has been using the same footage of a ruined District 13 for years. Katniss is then told you can tell by a bit of mockingjay wing in the corner. When Katniss sees this for herself, she starts to wonder if maybe District 13 does exist. I feel this scene would have made District 13 more important in our minds, something that could possibly last for a year until the next film came out. Granted, the film still did a wonderful job without it, and it was my only large complaint. Even if that exact scene wasn't in the movie, I really wished they had pushed District 13 a little bit more.

Overall, this was a great adaptation and I may even say better than the book (we all know how rare that is). The film portrays the characters wonderfully. It gives you the information you need while keeping a good pace and remaining entertaining. Not only that but the film also emotes the cruelty, the sadness, and the horror, which helps get you invested in the revolution and the plot. In one word: brilliant! I would definitely check it out.