Clary Fray has lived a pretty normal life for her 15 years; she and her mom have taken care of each other, with some help from her mom’s old friend Luke, since her dad died before she was born. Her best friend, Simon, rounds out her circle of people she cares about and can depend on. But one night everything changes; out with Simon at a club, Clary witnesses a trio of teens armed to the teeth threatening another youth. When they tell her that the victim is really a demon, and they are charged with killing him, she doesn’t know what to think, especially when she sees him get stabbed, ooze dark liquid, and then promptly disappear. She might have written it off as just another weird happening in New York City, but the next day, when one of the teens comes to find her to bring her to “the Institute” to talk to his tutor, and her mother is kidnapped, Clary is thrown right into a strange world she never knew existed.
City of Bones draws the reader into a world inhabited by demons and Downworlders — half-human, half-otherworldly creatures — and the human Shadowhunters whose job it is to make sure they don’t break the rules and kill innocent humans, who are oblivious to the existence of all these strange beings because only those with the Sight can see them. But Clary can see them now, and the mystery of why she can is only one that she and the three Shadowhunter teens must solve, as they try to protect Clary and find her mom.
City of Bones is gripping reading; the players and themes are familiar, sure (werewolves, vampires, demons, evil plotters who were thought to be long dead but apparently aren’t and are back with a vengeance), but the story is still its own and impossible to put down, and the characters are wonderfully drawn. To be safe, line up the three books in the series at the outset so you won’t have to run to the library or bookstore in between and have to wait any longer than necessary to see what happens. Two more books are on their way, too, a prequel-type book and a fourth in the series, so get reading.
Rated: Moderate, for mild and moderate language, using the Lord’s name in vain, a few sexual references, and a lot of bloody violence. But the author, to her credit, doesn’t use any strong language, and writes just as often as not about a character “cursing,” rather than actually giving the character specific bad language as dialogue.