Like many YA urban fantasies, Cassandra Clare's City of Bones
is full of teenage angst, unrequited love, and a kind of hard-edged rebellion that populates so much YA fiction nowadays. But unlike other books of this sort, City of Bones
also contains a mix of interesting characters, richly-crafted world building, and a very compelling plot.
When Clarissa Fray, Clary to her friends, accidentally stumbles across a troupe of demon slayers in action at a downtown New York dance club, she isn't sure who is more repellent: the demon or the Shadow Hunters who take it down. But before she can make up her mind about who are the good guys and who are the bad, she finds herself smack in the middle of a war that's been raging in the Underworld for years. And when her mother is captured and hauled off to the lair of one of the most evil Shadow Hunters of all, Clary must join forces with a group of teens who dislike her company as much as she dislikes theirs in order to get her mother back.
Unlike some books, City of Bones
isn't all about making googley eyes at the vampire (er, boy) you love but can't have. No, there's much more substance to this story. Clary struggles to deal with the lies she's been told all her life, the rejection by a man whom she'd loved like a father, and her own insecurities about her place in the world. And she's no shrinking violet. She's afraid, but acts courageously. She's uncertain, but she makes her mark on the story. She's a strong heroine, but a good friend. She may be interested in boys, but she's not so myopic that she'll run headlong into a bad relationship.
There are a few trouble spots in the book. Speech tags, a particular bugbear of mine, run rampant. The pacing, especially towards the end, isn't quite where it should be And there are some point of view issues as well. Overall, however, the book reads well.
I'm sure that any teenage girl who loves urban fantasy would love this book, but even from the jaded eyes of a forty-something, there's something to appreciate.