Writing this review is surprisingly more difficult than I expected it to be. I think that is the way it goes when you find a book to be squarely in the middle ground. I didn't love it. I didn't abhor it. I liked it. It was a mostly pleasant experience.
For the sake of full disclosure, I have tried to read City of Bones a couple times before and have failed. Each time I would get probably fewer than 100 pages in and be bored; so, I would move on. What changed, you may ask? Shadowhunters, the TV show - that's what.
Shadowhunters is not what I would call good television, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't suck me in. I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. This might have something to do with the pretty boys... Malec, anyone?! I'm a bit shallow in this respect; get over it.
Shadowhunters does a poor job of explaining the stories behind the world that Clare has created; instead it focuses on the action. This book - to a great extent - does exactly the opposite, until the action-packed conclusion. I'm okay with this. I typically greatly enjoy books that focus on extensive world building, sometimes with little to no action. My previous attempts at reading this book just didn't get me to that level of enjoyment. Maybe I was more engaged this time because I was looking for answers to the questions that the TV show leaves as gaping holes? I don't know.
While I went into this first book in the series expecting a few differences from what I saw in the first season of the TV show, I was really thrown off guard by how vastly different it was. Sure, the names are the same, the world the characters inhabit is mostly the same, the overarching plot is strikingly similar, but otherwise they feel like completely separate entities. The one sure thing that I think ties the two together is that they weave a story around the same them of unrequited love and the stupid things we do because of it. I think that this quote from the book really sums it up well:
"Where there is feeling that is not requited," said Hodge, "there is an imbalance of power. It is an imbalance that is easy to exploit, but it is not a wise course. Where there is love, there is often also hate. They can exist side by side."
I'm not going to say that this book did anything wholly original, but I did somehow still come away from it having derived some tangible enjoyment out of its reading. If you're going to read City of Bones, just be prepared for whiny. Clary was just so whiny... To be fair, Shadowhunters did a great job of nailing this characteristic.
Despite the fairly average experience that I had with this book, I'm still pretty hooked. I'm not sure if it is because of the book itself or the TV show, though. Either way, I'm going to forge ahead with this series over the coming year. I've heard tell that the series gets better as it gets further along and I've enjoyed the first book enough to give the series a chance. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed about the possibility of being able to witness Clare's growth as a writer as I work my way through the series.
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