I just finished reading City of Bones, the first book in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. I should start off by saying that I don’t read a lot of YA fiction (except for the new Young James Bond series and Harry Potter, of course) and I haven’t really gotten hooked on urban fantasy (except Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series). By now, you’ve probably guessed that City of Bones is a YA/urban fantasy novel. What you might not have guessed is that I absolutely loved it.
There’s a good chance that I would never have picked up City of Bones if it wasn’t recommended by Jen. It’s one of her favorite books, but that doesn’t always make a good recommendation. I think the real reason she recommended it was that she knows how much I like the Dresden series, Harry Potter, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She also, rather tongue-in-cheek, mentioned the fact that it’s set in New York City, with large chunks taking place in Brooklyn. The key to a good recommendation is knowing what the other person likes, not what you think they like (that kind of thinking led someone to tell me I would “love” A Confederacy of Dunces, which holds the distinction of being the only book I’ve ever hurled across the room in disgust). My old boss had an amazing knack for recommending books after you told him three or four of your favorite books–I don’t think a single book he told me to read was a letdown.
Now…where was I? Oh, right:
City of Bones is the story of fifteen-year-old Clarissa “Clary” Fray. Clary fits right in with my all-time favorite female characters–Willow, Fred, Kitty Pryde, Kaylee, and Hermione. She’s a little socially awkward, but with enough brains and spunk to see her through. Clary’s world is turned upside down when she learns that there is a secret, hidden world that no one can see. No one, except her. It’s a world of demons, vampires, werewolves, witches and warlocks. A world patrolled by a group known as Shadowhunters. Right there, it’s already hitting the happy part of my brain where Buffy, Harry Potter, and Harry Dresden live (not to mention Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere).
To be honest, I was expecting a pretty standard story. That’s not what I got. Sure, there were a few things that I called pretty early on. But, Clare’s narrative throws so many curve-balls that everything I had figured out for myself paled in comparison. I’m itching to get my hands on the next book in the series–City of Ashes–so I can revisit this world and see what Clare has in store for Clary and the others.