fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsCassandra Clare Mortal Instruments review 1. City of BonesCity of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I’m a huge fan of books that don’t let me go until I’ve reached the last page. Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones, the first in her Mortal Instruments series, is that kind of book. Ostensibly written for young adults, this is a novel that adults will enjoy just as much as teenagers, for all that the protagonist and her friends are high-school aged.

Clary and her friend Simon — not boyfriend, much as he’d like to claim that title — visit the Pandemonium Club in Manhattan, a borough away from their homes in Brooklyn. A cute boy with blue hair and bright green eyes catches Clary’s eye, and she watches him until a beautiful girl in a long white dress beckons him into a room marked “No Admittance.” She watches long enough to see two other boys following them, one of whom pulls a knife just before entering the room. Startled and scared, Clary sends Simon off to get a security guard and, ignoring his instructions to stay put, heads off to rescue the blue-haired boy.

Clary gets quite a surprise when she enters the room, but she gives one as well. She shouldn’t be able to see any of the occupants of the room, they tell her. The blue-haired boy is a demon, while the other three are Shadowhunters. When Jace, one of the Shadowhunters, kills the blue-haired boy, the boy disappears, returning “to his home dimension,” Jace explains. Jace is immediately suspicious that Clary might be more than the “mundane” she seems to be, especially when Simon returns with a bouncer and proves unable to see the Shadowhunters, just as they know should be the case.

Something is definitely up, Clary quickly learns, because the next day her mother is suddenly insisting that they are “going on vacation” for the rest of the summer. Clary rebels at this news, as she had a season’s worth of plans, including art lessons she’s already paid for. She storms out of their home when Simon arrives, and the two of them head for a coffeehouse for a poetry slam. And who should be there but Jace? Just as Jace is explaining to Clary that she needs to come with him to “the Institute,” Clary’s mom calls and warns her, clearly in terror, not to come home. Clary hears the sound of falling, a buzz of static, and a harsh, slithering noise before the connection is severed. Clary rushes home, finds her mother comatose, and runs into a huge, malignant spider demon, a Ravener — and that’s when Clary knows her life has changed forever.

Clary’s discoveries follow fast and furious from that point. Most importantly, she learns that she is not who and what she thought she was, but comes from a lineage she shares in common with Jace, his adoptive sister Isabelle, and his adoptive brother, Alec. The three take her in and try to figure out why she has been raised as a mundane — and to give her shelter, as she cannot return to her home and her mother’s good friend, Luke, has harshly told Clary he isn’t her father and she should stay away from him.

Clary is quickly immersed in a world of demons, vampires, werewolves and mages that she never knew existed, learning how to deal with an entirely new level of reality even while she searches for a way to bring her mother out of her coma. She learns that her father may not have been a man who died before she was born, but someone altogether different — and evil. Soon it becomes clear that she has talents neither she nor anyone else suspected, and a fate awaiting her that has nothing to do with the gentle life of an artist she had anticipated.

The action is nonstop, with characters the reader quickly comes to love in nearly constant peril. It seems almost no one is who he or she purports to be. And the problems Clary faces go far beyond her mother’s unexplained coma; they encompass the future of humankind. You’ll want to read all of the nearly 500 pages in one sitting, if you can, and once you’ve turned the last page, you’ll want to reach immediately for the next book in the series.

Cassandra Clare knows how to hold a reader’s attention, no matter the reader’s age. The themes are appropriate for teens, with most of the violence occurring offstage, except for the killing of demons, who are the baddest of bad guys. Clare manages to avoid profane language and yet still have her teenagers sound like teenagers, and while there are plenty of intimations of sexual attraction, there are no X or even R-rated scenes. I think my nearly 12-year-old nephew would call this book “Awesome!” — and I think I know what he’s getting for his birthday.

The Mortal Instruments — (2007-2014) Young adult. Publisher: Their hidden world is about to be revealed… 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. Clary knows she should call the police, but it’s hard to explain a murder when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary. Equally startled by her ability to see them, the murderers explain themselves as Shadowhunters: a secret tribe of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. Within twenty-four hours, Clary’s mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque 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…

Cassandra Clare Mortal Instruments review 1. City of Bones 2. City of Ashes 3. City of GlassCassandra Clare Mortal Instruments review 1. City of Bones 2. City of Ashes 3. City of GlassCassandra Clare Mortal Instruments review 1. City of Bones 2. City of Ashes 3. City of GlassCassandra Clare Mortal Instruments review 1. City of Bones 2. City of Ashes 3. City of Glass 4. City of Fallen AngelsCassandra Clare Mortal Instruments review 1. City of Bones 2. City of Ashes 3. City of Glass 4. City of Fallen Angels 5. City of Lost Soulsfantasy and science fiction book reviews


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  • Terry Weyna

    TERRY WEYNA, on our staff since December 2010, would rather be reading than doing almost anything else. She reads all day long as an insurance coverage attorney, and in all her spare time as a reviewer, critic and writer. Terry lives in Northern California with her husband, professor emeritus and writer Fred White, two rambunctious cats, and an enormous library.