Bryan and Robert have emerged from the shadows once again, but what while they see when they get there?! Check out their review of City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.

Bryan’s quick summary:

Clary Fray, fifteen, and her best friend, Simon, are out clubbing in the trendy “Pandemonium” when Clary accidentally stumbles across some demon hunters. Demon hunters that she shouldn’t be able to see, because their magic hides them to “mundies” (mundane humans).

She witnesses one of the leaders – Jace – dispatch the demon in a violent manner and is horrified. Simon rushes into the room and sees … nothing.

Clary is disturbed by these events and doesn’t know what to make of them … until she spots Jace again several days later and confronts him, demanding to know more. Their conversation is cut short when Clary receives a chilling distress call from her mother … and her world begins a rapid descent into a hell populated by werewolves, vampires, warlocks and shadowhunters.

City of Bones is by Cassandra Clare

So what did we think? (From a reader’s perspective)

1. (Robert) This is a really silly story that doesn’t read well in places (in order to advance the plot, people explain things to each other like a cheap version of CSI), yet it was entertaining enough. I can’t say I’d be rushing to complete the series anytime soon! And warning for the under-15s: this is not for you. Explicit sexual references, drug use, gory violence, incest … need I say more?

2. (Bryan) The book had me for a long while (which I’ll partly attribute to one of my favorite actresses Mae Whitman’s position as the narrator), but it kind of lost me during the “Rat Quest.” It seemed to go too far off the beaten plot path.

3. (Robert) Some fast-paced action sequences suddenly seemed to turn into two or three people chatting to each other. Huh? I don’t know about you, but if there’s a crazed zombie coming at me, I’m not going to stop and have a conversation about it – or something else entirely. I actually thought I’d missed something and had to go back and re-read to realize the action sequence seemed to have been frozen in time while they discussed what was going on.

4. (Robert) There are tropes, tropes and more tropes galore, the plot turns are contrived, the dialog is super-cheesy at times, Clary is a real Mary Sue … but despite all this, it was a pretty fun read! Maybe for a long plane trip …

What did we think from a writer’s perspective?

1. (Robert) Yet another example of YA killing it because something struck a chord. I haven’t seen the movie, but the books have a huge following ,and where I live, they’re still displayed prominently in all bookshops.

2. (Bryan) You can get a ton of mileage from placing a newbie in a crazy paranormal world. It’s something that a book like Matched didn’t have because every character was already engrossed in the world. I think it’s smart to put in a neutral character like this in an anything-but-neutral world.

4. (Robert) The prose is a pretty purple! The humor is contrived and detracts from the story! The characters are inconsistent! Clary makes stupid decisions! Why does Simon suddenly seem able to see the Shadowhunters?! Why are there exclamation marks everywhere!

5. (Robert) Is this “When Harry met Voldy met Darth”? Apparently Cassandra Cla(i)re was a huge fanfic writer for the Harry Potter world (and LOTR), and the Jace character is a total cut-and-paste of her Draco character in her HP fanfic trilogy. Another EL James? It certainly reads very fanfic amateur in places, surprisingly since the tread-pub editing process is supposed to weed this kind of thing out.

6. (Bryan) I believe that when you take a bunch of different ideas and put them in a blender, it usually becomes your own. Maybe she put in one too many ingredients, but I still think it generally worked from the writing side.

Bryan and Robert’s Famous Takeaways:

1. No (Cassandra Clare), I am your father. Yes, there’s a Star Wars-style twist in there. More than one, actually. Don’t worry, you’ll spot them coming.

2. Apparently you can have every fantasy creature known to man star in one book and still have people love it. Oh wait … no dragons. Yet.

3. Worth reading to see what the fuss is about and again to get a sense, like Divergent, of what turns on the YA readership. Some things I just don’t “get”!

Prompt of the Week:

Your parents have sat you down in the living room to tell you that they have a secret life they’ve never shared with you before this point. What is their big secret and are you able to keep it going forward? How does your life change after finding out your parents’ true identity?

Write your response to the prompt or the show in the comments!

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