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City of Bones by Cassandra Clare Book Review

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

City of Bones

by Cassandra Clare

Published by McElderry Books

Book 1 in the Mortal Instruments Series

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...


Violence Young Adult Exciting




City of Bones is the first book in the Mortal Instruments Series, and the first book that started Cassandra Clare's massive Shadowhunter World, that includes different spin-offs and novellas, and has been made both into a movie (which I am partial to, despite the series not being continued), and a popular show. City of Bones centers around Clary Fray, a fifteen, soon to be sixteen, year old girl, who witnesses a murder at a popular, all-ages club, a murder that no one else can see. This leads to Clary finding about the shadow world, and shadowhunters, half-human and half-angel beings that are destined to kill demons. Within 24 hours, her mother goes missing, she is attacked by a demon, and she is thrust into a world of secrets, and betrayal. Along with it, she is also introduced to Jace, the beautiful, prickly shadowhunter, that leaves quite the impression on her.

I read City of Bones for the first time in 2013. This is my third time reading it (and not just because I wanted to review it, but because there are still more books coming, and I wanted a refresher ... plus, I like them.) I'm older now, so I am just noticing it now, but I forgot just how innocent City of Bones is. Cassandra Clare's stuff now seems steamier in comparison. That being said, Clary is 15/16 years old in City of Bones, so innocent is good. I would have NO problem letting my teenagers read this. While stories on nephilim, demons, etc, etc ... are countless, I forgot just how original Cassandra's shadowhunters world is, and that it truly stands apart. City of Bones is just plain fun, with all the sarcastic banter, action, and the hint of romance. I mean, it's my third read through, and I wasn't bored.

Clary is a great role model for young girls, in my opinion. She is strong, brave, and has a desire to do whats right, despite it being the harder thing to do. Jace is an interesting character. Heavily sarcastic, a little bit dangerous ... but underneath a very tough exterior, is sweet. You get your bad boy fix, but at the end of the day, you know your main character won't end up with a broken heart. Spoiler -----> Unless, of course, you find out your crush is your brother. Ew. <------ I do, however, wish there were more private moments between Clary and Jace. I wish I had a bit more bonding between them, so their feelings towards one another made a bit more sense. Of course, as I am saying this, I am not that old. I remember being a teenager, and being plagued with insta-love. The other characters are also great. One of the things I love about Cassandra's work, is that all the characters have their own distinct personalities and quirks. I never feel like she is copy and pasting a character profile. Simon is great, and I never felt like he was getting in the way of the main romance arc. Isabelle is the exact opposite of Clary, which makes their interactions funny and awkward. It's obvious they are not used to friends of the female sort, and while it can come off bitchy, I think it's mostly discomfort. We don't see Alec's best side in City of Bones, but underneath his obvious turmoil, he genuinely cares about his family and friends. And I am always all for a LGBTQ+ characters, even if, in City of Bones, Alec struggles with his homosexuality. But hey, that adds a level of realism to a fantasy.

City of Bones is a wonderful starter book to Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunter world, and while a fantasy, it hits the nails on the head for common issues young adults face on a daily basis: family issues and dynamics, relationship and friendship problems, and identity and sexuality confusion. It's a reflection of todays society, that young adult books sometimes lack. Cassandra Clare does a great job writing a story that everyone can find a character they see themselves in.

Favorite Moments

  1. Jace finding Clary at the coffee shop

  2. Clary slapping Jace across the face when she learned he wasn't 100% sure she was a shadowhunter

  3. Everyone's reaction to Isabelle's cooking

  4. Jace telling Clary a bedtime story

  5. Meeting Magnus

  6. Clary and Jace working together to save Simon

  7. Jace bringing Clary to the greenhouse for her birthday, and their first kiss

  8. Simon saving everyone

  9. Luke telling Clary the truth about everything

  10. Clary finding Jace

  11. Clary taking a stand against Valentine

  12. Clary saving Luke's life, and Jace saving Clary's

Where to Buy

Favorite Quotes

Simon: "I feel that this evening DJ Bat is doing a singularly exceptional job. Don't you agree?"

Clary rolled her eyes and didn't answer

Simon: "Meanwhile, I wanted to tell you that lately I've been cross-dressing. Also, I'm sleeping with your mom. I thought you should know."

Alec: "What's this?"

Jace: "It's a girl. Surely you've seen girls before, Alex. Your sister Isabelle is one."

The door flew open. Jocelyn gave a little scream

Luke: "Jesus!"

Simon: "Actually, it's just me. Although I've been told the resemblance is startling."

Clary: "You don't like smart girls? Still seeking a rockin' bod?"

Simon: "Neither. I don't want to ask her out because it wouldn't be fair to her if I did ..."

Clary: "Why not?"

Simon: "Because I like someone else."

Clary: "Okay. You're not gay, are you?"

Simon: "If I were, I would dress better."

Alec: "It's not funny, Jace. Are you just going to let her stand there and call me names?"

Jace: "Yes. It'll do you good - try to think of it as endurance training."

Jace: "Just because you call an electric eel a rubber duck doesn't make it a rubber duck, does it? And God help the poor bastard who decides they want to take a bath with the duckie."

Clary: "You're driveling."

Jace: "I'm not."

Alec: "Actually, you are."

Clary: "You guessed? You must have been pretty sure, considering you could have killed me."

Jace: "I was ninety percent sure."

Clary: "I see."

There must have been something in her voice, because he turned to look at her. Her hand cracked across his face, a slap that rocked him back on his heels. He put his hand to his cheek, more in surprise than pain.

Jace: "What the hell was that for?"

Clary: "The other ten percent."

Dorothea: "So observant. The Clave really broke the mold with you."

Jace: "Stay away from my blades. In fact, don't touch any of my weapons without my permission."

Clary: "Well, there goes my plan for selling them all on eBay."

Jace: "Selling them on what?"

Clary smiled blandly at him

Clary: "A mythical place of great magical power."

Dorothea: "I see violence in your future, a great deal of blood shed by you and others. You'll fall in love with the wrong person. Also, you have an enemy."

Jace: "Only one? That's good news."

Jace: "It's true that she claims not to remember ever having had the Sight before this week. Maybe - "

Clary: "Maybe I'm just a late developer. And don't leer at me, just because I said that."

Jace assumed an injured air

Jace: "I wasn't going to."

Clary: "You were working up to a leer, I could tell."

Jace: "Ouch. You elbowed me."

Clary: "Well, you landed on me."

Clary: "I wasn't mad at you."

Simon: "Yeah, well, you clearly also couldn't be bothered to call me and tell me you were shacking up with some dyed-blond wanna-be goth you probably met at Pandemonium. After I spent the past three days wondering if you were dead."

Clary: "I'm not shacking up."

Jace: "And my hair is naturally blond. Just for the record."

Jace: "No one wants any soup."

Simon: "I want some soup."

Jace: "No, you don't. You just want to sleep with Isabelle."

Simon was appalled

Simon: "That is not true."

Isabelle: "How flattering."

Jace: "Oh, yes it is. Go ahead and ask her - then she an turn you down and the rest of us can get on with our lives while you fester in miserable humiliation. "

Isabelle: "Dinnertime! Sorry if I'm interrupting."

Jace: "Dear God, the dread hour is nigh."

Hodge looked alarmed

Hodge: "I - I - I had a very filling lunch. I couldn't possibly eat -"

Isabelle: "I threw out the soup. And ordered Chinese from that place downtown."

Jace: "Great. I'm starved."

Hodge: "I might be able to eat a bite."

Jace: "One of the Silent Brothers is here to see you. Hodge sent me to wake you up. Actually, he offered to wake you himself, but since it's five a.m., I figured you'd be less cranky if you had something nice to look at."

Clary: "Don't quote Blake at me."

Jace: "I didn't think you'd recognize it. You don't strike me as someone who reads a lot of poetry."

Clary: "Everyone knows that quote because of the Doors."

Jace looked at her blankly.

Clary: "The Doors. They were a band."

Jace: "If you say so."

Clary: "Aren't you, uh ... reproducing?"

Jace burst out laughing just as the carriage made a sudden, sharp left turn.

Jace: "Sure. We love reproducing. It's one of our favorite things."

Clary: "What does it mean?"

Jace: "It means 'Shadowhunters: Looking Better in Black Than the Widows of our Enemies Since 1234."

Clary: "Is this when you start tearing strips off your T-shirt to bind up my wound?"

Jace: "If you wanted me to rip my clothes off, you should have just asked."

Clary: "Well, because - it's like a diary. Except I don't think in words, I think in pictures, so it's all drawings. But it's still private."

Jace: "A diary with no drawings of me in it? Where are the torrid fantasies? The romance novel covers? The -"

Clary: "Do all the girls you meet fall in love with you?

Magnus: "Come in. And try not to murder any of my guests."

Jace: "Even if one of them spills a drink on my new shoes?"

Magnus: "Even then."

Delighted, she hugged him to her chest.

Clary: "Oh, poor baby. Poor Simon, it'll be fine, I promise -"

Jace: "I wouldn't feel too sorry for him. That's probably the closest he's ever gotten to second base."

Clary: "When the self-congratulatory part of the evening is over, maybe we could get back to saving my best friend from being exsanguinated to death?"

Jace: Exsanguinated. That's a big word."

Clary: "And you're a big -"

Jace: "Tsk, tsk. No swearing in church."

Clary: "Don't. I'm not really in the mood right now."

Jace: "That's got to be the first time a girl's ever said that to me."

Clary: "Stick with me, and it won't be the last."

Jace: "Do you remember back at the hotel when you promised that if we lived, you'd get dressed up in a nurse's outfit and give me a sponge bath?"

Clary: "Actually, I think you misheard. It was Simon who promised you the sponge bath."

Jace looked involuntarily over at Simon, who smiled at him widely.

Simon: "As soon as I'm back on my feet, handsome."

Simon: "Half of your attention is better than all of anyone else's."

Clary: "She hates me."

Jace: "No, she doesn't. You just make her nervous, because she's always been the only girl in a crowd of adoring boys, and now she isn't anymore."

Clary: 'But she's so beautiful."

Jace: "So are you."

Jace: "Are you going to sleep?"

Clary: "Aren't you tired?"

Jace: "I've never been more awake."

Jace: "In future, Clarissa, it might be wise to mention that you already have a man in your bed, to avoid such tedious situations."

Simon: "You invited him into bed?"

Jace: "Ridiculous, isn't it? We would never have all fit."

Isabelle: "I forgot that's what gets you all hot and bothered, Jace. Girls killing things."

Jace: "I like anyone killing things. Especially me."

Clary: "I know that when you said you loved me, what I said back wasn't what you wanted to hear."

Simon: "True. I'd always hoped that when I finally said 'I love you' to a girl, she's say 'I know' back, like Leia did to Han in Return of the Jedi."

Dorothea: "Didn't I read your tea leaves, Shadowhunter? Have you fallen in love with the wrong person yet?"

Jace: "Unfortunately, Lady of the Haven, my one true love remains myself."

Dorothea: "At least you don't have to worry about rejection, Jace Wayland."

Jace: "Not necessarily. I turn myself down occasionally, just to keep it interesting."

Clary: "So what happens when the moon comes up? Are you all going to suddenly wolf out, or what?"

Clary: "So when the moon's only partly full, you only feel a little wolfy?"

Luke: "You could say that."

Clary: "Well, you can go ahead and hang your head out the car window if you feel like it."

Luke laughed

Luke: "I'm a werewolf, not a golden retriever."

Luke: "Your mother was gone. I knew I'd made you hate me. I had nothing to lose."

Clary: "Well. You do now."

Clary: "I came for you."

Jace: "You shouldn't have. My God."

he said, touching her face

Jace: "You idiot, what a thing to do. Why don't you ever think?"

Clary: "I was thinking. I was thinking about you."

Jace: "Why are you so determined not to believe us?"

Valentine: "Because she loves you."

Valentine: "I loved her. I never would have hurt her. It was you who turned her against me."

Luke laughed

Luke: "She didn't need me to turn her against you. She learned to hate you on her own."

Valentine: "A true hit. I hardly thought you had it in you, Lucian."

Luke: "You taught me that move yourself."

Valentine: "But that was years ago, and since then, you've hardly had need of a knife, have you? Not when you have claws and fangs at your disposal."

Luke: "All the better to tear your heart out with."

Clary: "Monster?"

She thought of Luke, Luke pushing her on the swings when she was five years old, higher, always higher; Luke at her graduation from middle school, camera clicking away like a proud father's; Luke sorting through each box of books as it arrived at his store, liking for anything she might like, and putting it aside. Luke lifting her up to pull apples down from the trees near his farmhouse. Luke, whose place as her father this man was trying to take.

Clary: "Luke isn't a monster. Or a murderer. You are.

Jace: "It's better if you don't look."

Clary: "Like you do? Shutting your eyes and pretending something's not happening doesn't make it not true, Jace."

Clary: "Yes? Since I found out what? That he's a killer transvestite who molests cats?"

Simon: "No wonder that cat of his hates everyone."

Jace: "You don't have to tell me that good things about your mother. I already know them."

Clary: "Do you?"

Jace: "She raised you, didn't she?"


City of Bones Extra: Alec and Magnus's first kiss

Check out the rest of the Mortal Instruments Series Below

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