The Reread: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Still sort of impressed that this cover never got any flack.  And seriously, Jace, you need a haircut.

I’m seeing the City of Bones movie next weekend.  And I’m only doing it for you guys.  Not that I think that my thoughts will be worth anything.  I’m sure other people will be cringing and laughing at the Luke and Leila reveal at the end, like myself, but I thought it would be interesting doing a book vs movie sort of review of the film.  When it comes out.

Which meant I had to reread COB.

I thought about putting all these thoughts with the book vs movie review, but I realized I had enough thoughts upon rereading the series that they designated their own review so to speak.  So I’m just going to list them.

Unlike some people, I don’t hate this book.  It’s not because I think it’s great literature by any means.  It’s pretty weak.  Relies heavily on tropes.  And God, Clary, what a bitch.  In the bad sort of bitch sort of way.  Here’s a character who thinks she’s like YA’s answer to Batman but in reality is weaker than Mary Jane Watson.  But is it the worst YA book I’ve ever read?

Well, no.

I think that’s a tie between the House of Night Series and the Halo Trilogy.  Probably the Halo trilogy wins since its the most mundane, stupid, insipid piece of shit to have ever exist.

However, upon rereading this book I didn’t like it as much as I did the first time.  It wasn’t just because I was fully aware of Clare’s antics, but because I think this wasn’t my first exposure to her.

When I first read COB I felt like I was on the inside of some omnibus inside joke-there were very big winks at tropes used in popular series like Star Wars and Harry Potter.  Especially Harry Potter.  Dear lord, if the media doesn’t at least acknowledge the similarities between these series I’m going to freak.

I know I’m not the first person to mention these similarities.  One of my favorite reviews of COB has an interesting cartoon illustration showing how Clare has borrowed from Potter.  I’m not artistic so there won’t be any illustrations here.  Instead I’ll be listing some Potter similarities.  I’m ignoring the Star Wars stuff mainly because I’ve never watched the movies and besides the Luke and Leila and Darth Vadar thing, I really can’t think of any similarities on the top of my head (though I’m sure they’re probably there).

1)  The characters: All are derivative of HP.  All of them.  If you read Clare’s fan fic this is even more obvious.  Jace.  He’s totally leather pants Draco. A trope that Clare when she was Claire helped establish in the HP fan fic universe.

2) The plot:  Is fairly similar to HP too.  A child born with special powers is hidden from the world that is her ultimate destiny.  Of course, this is a trope that is seen throughout the YA universe so I’m not going to nitpick that much.

3) Prejudice in the magical world.  Really?  Really?  Clare.  Even EL James isn’t that obvious with her Twilight borrowing.  Oh, but Clare borrows from Twilight too.  But that’s another story for another day.

4)Special motorbikes-enough said.

5) Any fanon cliche its there save for the fact they’re not actually HP characters.  You have the fan fic stories of where Voldemort has a child (often either Harry or girl Harry).  The fan fic stories of where Lupin was in love with Lily.  The fan fic stories where Harry is a bitchy girl.  The fan fic stories where assholes like Draco are hot.  If you type these in on a search bar on fanfiction.net something’s bound to come up.  Heck, you’ll even get a couple of good ole incest fan fics if you really wish Jace and Clary were brother and sisters.  After all, the first The Immortal Instruments book that Cassandra Clare wrote was a fan fic with Ron and Ginny love (yeah…going to throw up).

Is the book out right plagiarized? While the reliance on Harry Potter stereotypes and characters is ridiculous there’s no such thing as copyrighting ideas.  But is it just ideas?

Take this argument into consideration, Clare built up her fan base in the HP world.  Parts of the fan fic were directly taken from her fan fic, the falcon scene for instance.  But these are just paragraphs that she reworked from her fan fic to the new source.

Well, honestly they don’t seem that different.  Which brings me back to the dreaded plagiarism conversation.  Fan girls and Clare haters have been arguing about this one for years about Clare’s plagiarism.  Note, I didn’t say supposed.  I truly believe it did happen based on the evidence I’ve read.  And while I like to think that she’s grown up since then, the story itself is still tainted.  Mainly because she decided to incorporate parts of the fan fic into her original novel.  The fan fic whose integrity was questioned.  I know that in this reread there were some quotes that seemed a little off like I’ve seen them before, but given the fact I’ve read this book before and don’t have a photostatic memory I can’t judge.

Plagiarism issues aside, the second read of this book really was lackluster in a lot of ways.  The lines that appeared witty first read were just flat and annoying and rather forced.  Witty banter is a skill that one cannot force.  Clare forces it big time.  I can just image a big notebook full of The Immortal Instruments characters in her office and on the Jace page where she’s probably glued pictures of fannon Draco she has written: Platinum  No, have to make it different.  Golden blonde (that’s different), gold eyes instead of gray.  And snarky.  Girls love funny guys.  Better keep the leather pants thing, that was soooooo hott.  And then a list of lines that she thoughts sound smart-alecky that she inserts every couple of pages or so.

I truly believe that’s how she does her characterization.  Want another one?

If you insist.

Clary: Fiery (obviously).  Teeny tiny.  Cool.  Impulsive which equals Batman.

Yeah, I remember reading on her Tumblir that she thought the dark knight was impulsive and took risks.

She thought that Batman was impulsive.

Okay, I know not relative to the book.  But one of the biggest characters in the DC Universe.  Some say the biggest is hardly impulsive. While he does take risks they are well thought out.  Methodical.  Calculated.  That’s why no one not even the boy in blue can kick his ass. Or for that matter Deadpool according to this one video which is ridiculous because Deadpool can’t die.  But it’s freaking Batman.

And to compare a bitch like Clary Fray to the world’s greatest superhero pisses me off to no end.  It almost makes me want to watch Batman and Robin again just so that I can sort of sort of accept Clare’s logic without wanting to hurt someone.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for Clary being an insufferable bitch I might’ve enjoyed this book more the second time around.  Seriously, all she does is talk about wanting to yell at people and how she hates Isabelle because unlike Clary she actually has a bust.

Though Isabelle is a bit of a tart, though rightfully so.  I mean, wouldn’t you be if some strange girl came to your home took over and basically looked at you like you were a slut?  Even though you did nothing but cooked and let her borrow your clothes.

Really, all of the characters in this book were insufferable save for maybe Isabelle, her younger brother, and Magnus Bane who is actually a decent Dumbledore substitute and might actually be quasi original. But the rest of them…ugh.

Especially the love interest.  As I said before.  Jace=Draco in leather pants.  And Simon, well, he’s a whiney tool.  Not much else to say there.  Which is actually weird because I remember I sort of liked him in the first book the very first time I read it.

The writing for the most part isn’t awful.  Yes, it’s very purple prose but at times the dialogue compensates for it and then over compensates for it by being too campy.  There was one particular chapter that was Cast Craptastic-Luke’s info dump about being a werewolf.  Actually, it’s more like info  dumps in worst books than that (cough, The Raie’Chaliea, cough).  I really don’t know why the editor didn’t get up in her ass on that-must’ve wanted to eat a Twinkie (yum, Twinkies).

My overall thoughts on this book is its an ethics nightmare.  But if you don’t know about the potential plagiarism issues with the book you might enjoy it the first time you read it.  However, once you get past the initial camp you probably won’t love it as much.  Do I hate this book, no.  I’m not a passionate hater on the book as a whole.  But I do hate Clary Fray.  And Batman she is not.  In fact….

 
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