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6.18.2009


Just finished the first in the Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare. This is, of course, all part of my Summer of Reading thing, which has no plan or purpose other than to read as much as possible of anything not on my reading list. As many 'throw-away' books as possible. In fact, the only thing on my reading list I actually intend to read in Les Miserables, and I don't honestly think I'll finish that till December. I like the idea of one massive tome defining a year.

Ms. Clare is objecting to my use of the phrase 'throw-away book' in the same paragraph as her Mortal Instruments series. But really, Ms. Clare, if you compare it to the books that are on my reading list, you would understand. I hope. I started reading this series for two reasons. First, I was curious to know if it was worth suggesting to book-buying patrons. I mean, I've put it right there on the table along with Stephenie Meyer. People do ask questions. Second, and more compellingly, I love the color pallette of the covers. They're only slightly melodramatic and busy. And I really wouldn't have been so easily swayed before the third book came out. The bronze background, the hipster-demonhunter look - all very sexy.

Oh yes, did I mention these books were about demonhunters? I didn't know either, because I avoided reading the blurb beforehand. Well, I started reading the blurb of book three after I'd already started reading book one, then realized it was a terrible, horrible spoiler mistake. Bad. Idea. Anyway, yes. So this teenage girl discovers that not only is the world filled with demons and werewolves and faeries and stuff, and not only are there other human(?) beings who go around killing the demons and the other creatures who get out of control, but she's much more a part of their world than she ever knew. There's a really twisted sort of lovish kinda story that will, I am sure, be thoroughly ironed out in the next two books. It's a fast, fun read, more adventure than romance (sorry, Twilighters), and even though an enormous backstory has to be unraveled in the midst of present action and confusion, it never feels as though that history is forced, or worse, that it was made up as the writer went along. On the contrary, you learn everything at just the right time and in just the right way (except for one small detail that could have saved two characters some serious awkwardness and future therapy).

I did find myself getting annoyed with all the interruptions. It's one of Ms. Clare's writing tricks that she withholds information by interrupting her characters just as they're about to say or do something important - like Simon's declaration at the beginning of the book being drowned out by the sudden and ironic arrival of Jace. That sort of sudden arrival happens about every ten to fifteen pages. You can pretty much predict the entrance of a new character by the increasing importance of a conversation.

I also found character development to be a little awkward. There were pretty much two main characters in this book (I strongly suspect that by the third book Simon will be taking up more stage space than he's presently allowed, being a mundane). Jace was one of them, and he was very thoroughly and intricately presented. He's just the right kind of complicated, and we get to see it all. But most of the story is told from Clary's perspective (though not in the first person), so it would be nice if we had any kind of notion as to her personality. She's funny and brave and impulsive, but indistinct. None of her actions are very predictable, which makes her very convenient for a plot (i.e. if you want your characters to be suddenly and efficiently transported to another state, just make sure one of them is the sort who might spontaneously leap up and walk through a magic portal without provocation). But it also made the book very easy to put down. If the only investment I have in the story is my curiosity about punk supernatural warfare, we're on thin ground.

Thankfully, it's my Summer of Reading (not that I don't read every season of the year, but whatever), and thin ground or not, I'll be picking up the second book tonight.

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