This is a taut, dark, gripping read, full of twists and turns and sudden revelations (that may not always be surprising to the careful reader). I knew nothing about the book when I started it, and I know that I enjoyed it all the more because of that. Therefore, I will not say very much about the plot, because I don't want to ruin any surprises.
The book opens with Clary Fray, a fifteen-year-old girl who lives with her mother, and Simon, her best friend. They're at a dance club together. He hates going there, but does it because she enjoys it so much. She spots an attractive guy across the room, and when it seems as though he's being followed by some other kids, one of them carrying a knife, she tries to come to his rescue. What ensues is very confusing - there is a fight, at the end of which the cute guy is gets stabbed, bleeds black fluid, then disappears into thin air. When Simon finally finds Clary, it is obvious that the attackers are invisible to him, while Clary can see them perfectly well.
From that moment, Clary's life changes in radical ways. She wants nothing to do with this strange, frightening, previously unseen world. But when her mother disappears after a frantic cellphone conversation in which she begs Clary to run, not to come back to their apartment, Clary realizes she must find a way to deal with what is happening, or she may never see her mother again. There is so much she doesn't know, and every time she tries to find out what is going on, she almost gets killed by nightmarish creatures.
Clary is an admirable character, full of determination and strength she never realized she had. Despite constant setbacks and disturbing revelations, she does her best to follow the right path. I loved watching the relationships develop among the various characters in the novel. Simon and Clary have been friends for years, and have an easy sort of camaraderie common to good friends with a shared history, which is evident in the way they speak with each other. Jace, one of the teenagers involved in the club incident, is appealing in a different way - he's the handsome, broody, loner type, and Clary immediately finds herself both attracted to and irritated by him (particularly his high-handedness and self-confidence to the point of being a bit stuck up). Their dialog is wonderful, too, particularly when Clary is annoyed.
Books that are dark and suspenseful, yet have continual sparks of humor in them always get high ratings from me. This one was so gripping, I stayed up way past my bedtime to read it, and it has been in my mind in the days since I finished it. I highly recommend it - and I am very much looking forward to reading the sequel, which I brought home from the library yesterday.
Books in The Mortal Instruments series:
1. City of Bones
2. City of Ashes
3. City of Glass (To be published March 2009)
City of Bones (#1 in The Mortal Instruments series) by Cassandra Clare (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007)
Also reviewed at:
Drying Ink (warning - spoilers)
The Book Muncher (warning - spoilers)
WORD for Teens