City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments: Book One
City of Bones
Cassandra Clare
Lexile® measure: 740L

My Recommended Age: I don't recommend this for children, teens, or adults...unless you enjoy cockroaches in your ice cream.

Anyone who has browsed through the books at Costco has seen all four book in this series just waiting to be purchased. I, myself, saw the $6.00 price tag and recommendation from Stephenie Meyer, and thought, "Yes, I need another awesome YA romance novel...bring it on!" Unfortunately, my excitement ended there.

Fifteen year old Clary is headed off to a night club with her best friend when she witnesses a murder. Unfortunately, the crime was committed by shadowhunters, people who are invisible to everyone but her.  This incident, as well as her mother's disappearance, forces Clary into the magical world of demons, werewolves, vampires, and half-angels. In the quest to find her mother, Clary realizes that she is not simply a "mundie" (mortal), but a destined shadowhunter. 

For those of you thinking, "Hey, this sounds pretty good, what is the problem?", I need to mention that amid all of this excitement and adventure, the author has inserted several borderline R-rated moments.  In the first chapter while in the nightclub, everyone is enjoying "hits" of Herbal Ecstasy, and there is drinking and smoking by kids of all ages. Throughout the book there is a splattering of swear words.  Also included is heavy violence with PG-13 descriptions of stabbings, throat cuttings, demon blood oozing, and more.  There is passionate kissing, with a mention of intercourse among the characters, but no description of it. Finally, the author included a gay character vying for the affection of the "handsome male hero". Although it was written in what might be considered a "PG" manner, it added a dimension to the story that was disturbing and uncomfortable, especially when the gay character becomes the fourth point of the love triangle.

Many websites, and my own library, feel this book is appropriate for ages 12 and up, however, I strongly disagree.  I realize that I am conservative, but I can't imagine any parent wanting their 12 year old reading half the stuff in this book!  The standard rule for determining the target audience of a book is the age of the main character, that would make the minimum age for this book 15!  Are 12 year old children even out of elementary school yet? 
I realize that this a best-seller, with a large fan base and a huge Hollywood film already in the making, but this is not my idea of a good book.  For those of you not familiar with my cockroach in the ice cream scenario, this book was the epitome of a great big bowl of ice cream crawling with little tiny cockroaches...overall most of it is good, but I still wouldn't want to eat it!

Happy Reading


  1. I don't see any problem with the gay character being involved in the love triangle--the way you are describing it, it seems you are homophobic. I really liked this book, a lot, and I feel that your review was not very objective.

    1. Exactly! I found Alec to be one of the most genuine and interesting of Cassandra Clare's characters (and that's saying a lot).

      And the way this blogger puts it, "finally, the author included a gay character vying for the affection of the 'handsome male hero', ...adding a dimension to the story that was disturbing and uncomfortable", is disturbingly overt homophobia.

      Believe it or not, Ms. Blogger, homosexual people exist in the real world, as they do literature, and they have the right to exist and be acknowledged. If you and your children want to pretend that they don't exist, I suggest you start looking for a large enough rock to crawl under.

      And as for the gore and "R-rated moments", what are you talking about? This series is seriously vanilla compared to many YA novels. Off the top of my head, there are scenes where children torture and kill one another with sci-fi mutant powers in the Gone series, and it has an even younger targeted audience.

      I'm not saying that makes gore in literature all right, but 12-year-old kids can handle the mild descriptions of violence found in the Mortal Instruments. I mean, it's not as if the book describes in gruesome detail a knife slicing through layers of flesh to reveal protruding white bone underneath or anything. I started following this series way back in 6th grade, when only the first two books had been published, and there was nothing that was especially memorable to me in terms of violence or gore.

      Obviously, my parents objected to my choice of books in grade school. But they still voice their disapproval of the horror and crime TV shows I watch now, despite my being in college. So the argument that no parents would want "their 12 year old reading half the stuff in this book" is invalid, because parents are overprotective by nature. If it was up to them, their children will be protected by layers of bubble wrap forever.

      And you'll find more swearing in 10 minutes of daytime television than you will the whole book. Besides, swear words are just arbitrary sound waves, no more special than all other words, and we give them power by prohibiting their regular use.

      Okay, so I'm being a little harsh, especially since Ms. Blogger already admitted to being overly conservative. But her "My Recommended Age: I don't recommend this for children, teens, or adults... unless you enjoy cockroaches in your ice cream" is really too much.

      Ms. Blogger, you're entitled to your own opinions, but if you're going to write a completely biased and unfair review that was likely hugely influenced by your prejudice against gay characters, you might as well not write one at all.


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