My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
City of Bones is the book that started the phenomenon that is the Shadowhunters world and fandom. The book introduces us to a beloved cast of characters and the fascinating Shadow World that will be developed over the course of the future novels. We discover the world through the eyes of Clary Fray, a girl who always thought she was normal but discovers that she is actually part of a race of people who are part-angel and spend their days fighting back the demon hordes.
Clary and her best friend Simon are thrust into a world full of werewolves, vampires, warlocks, fairies and demons. They meet three Shadowhunters around their age: Jace, Izzy and Alec who live in the New York Institute. The first book has a number of different action scenes, but I think it shines most in the world-building department. Cassandra Clare develops an intricate world that you can easily imagine and yet is infinitely more complex than our own familiar one.
While there is some character development, the book only takes place over a period of two weeks. We are just getting to know the characters and that development or growth will come in later books. For now, we are learning about these characters and their secrets. Having read the series before, I am already in love with certain characters so it’s strange seeing their early personas. They grow so much over the course of the six books that there are some that I don’t particularly connect to, yet absolutely adore them later on.
Although I relate most to Clary, Jace is by far my favourite character in the series. He is witty, sarcastic and has the best lines in any scene. Some of the other characters have hilarious, memorable lines as well because Cassie writes fantastic dialogue – but Jace is the star. He can cause you to laugh out loud, which might garner you strange looks if you’re in public reading.
This book is fantastic, but you can definitely see the difference in writing quality between this book and Cassie’s most recent series. I think the writing is well done, the world building is immersive and the characters are relatable. I adore this book because it is what introduced me to the Shadow World and my beloved Shadowhunters, but I can admit that her writing has come so far in the last ten years. Regardless, I cannot recommend this series more to young adult/teen fans of fantasy, books with unique and immersive world building and if you’re willing to continue with it fantastic character building throughout the series.