City of Bones

I became interested in City of Bones through the recommendation of a classmate. Its appearance on the YALSA Teen Read Week Teen’s Top Ten List 2008 (Retrieved July 19, 2009 from made it a shoe-in for inclusion in my genre study.

Series Title: Mortal Instruments
Author: Cassandra Clare
ISBN-10: 1416914285 ISBN-13: 9781416914280
City and Publisher: New York: M.K. McElderry Books
Copyright Date: 2007
Author’s Website:

Reader’s Annotation: When Clary sees two men with knives follow another man into a dark room in the Pandemonium Club, she does what any normal teen would do and has her friend bring security. When she discovers that only she can see the men with knives, she realizes she may not be just any normal teen.

Plot Summary: Clary Fray lives in Brooklyn with her slightly offbeat artist mother. When she witnesses a murder committed by people no one else can see and her mother starts insisting they flee the city, she realizes her life may not be exactly what it seems. Before they can flee, crocodile like demons break into their home and her mother vanishes. Clary seeks refuge with the handsome Jace and his family of Shadowhunters, a clandestine group of demon slayers. Her search for her mother leads them all over the city’s secret underworld of werewolves, vampires, demons, and warlocks. The Shadowhunters have their own dark side and Clary’s quest grows entangled with the group’s history of subterfuge and betrayal.

Critical Evaluation: City of Bones reads like a paranormal Harry Potter, although the writing is not as gripping. The secret society, with its tumultuous history of revolutions and hidden motives, as well as the main character whose existence is deeply intertwined with that of the powerful villain, mirror Harry Potter’s world. The characters are interesting, but lack the charm needed to make City of Bones a page-turner.

Reading Level/Interest: Age 12 and up
Curriculum Ties: City of Bones is a good pleasure read. Reluctant readers who liked Harry Potter might find this book to be a good next read.
Booktalking Ideas: Describe the Shadowhunters and the secret underbelly of New York. Then state that City of Bones tells the story of what happens when a girl who thinks she’s ordinary gets entangled with that world.

Genre: Paranormal
Beasties and Supernatural Elements: Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, Fairies, Psychic Powers, Runes and Mystic Symbols
Influences from Other Genres: Suspense/Thriller, Fantasy

Challenge Issues: At the climax of City of Bones, Clary and Jace, who have shared a kiss and a budding romance, find out that they are brother and sister. The story quickly back pedals, depicting their interactions as more of a Luke and Leia relationship. Nevertheless it is a bit of a sticky topic. The story is full of secrets, and one might wonder if this revelation will be reversed in a future title. Without that information, defending this controversy is a little more difficult. Perhaps the comparison with Star Wars may soothe a troubled parent.

About the Author: Cassandra Clare moved around and traveled a lot as a child, developing a love of books as something that stayed familiar. She worked for entertainment magazines and tabloids before writing City of Bones, her first novel. There are three books in the Mortal Instruments series and another trilogy set in the same world (although not the same time period) is forthcoming. (More details at and


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