Customer Review

224 of 244 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Study In Contrasts, 18 Aug. 2007
This review is from: City of Bones (Mortal Instruments): 1 (Paperback)
This is a strange book, a study in contrasts. And it's one I've been thinking a lot about how I'll write this review.

It's clearly aimed at mid-teen age, mostly girls. I believe the author started out in fan-fiction, but this is her first published novel, and is set to be one of three in a trilogy. It is very much a cross between Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, with a pinch of Buffy The Vampire Slayer thrown in for good measure.

I have good and bad things to say about this book. I think I'll start with the bad and get it out the way.

My first comment is that the book is not very well written in parts, although it gets a bit better as it progresses. The first thing that jumped out at me was the use (particularly early in the book) of very cheesy and/or odd metaphors and similes, which reminded me of something one would write in English at school where the teacher has tried to get you to use various similes and metaphors just for the sake of it. They jarred every time, which was unfortunate. For example:

"He turned to follow her, tasting the phantom sizzle of her death on his lips." [pg. 11]

"A small flower of apprehension began to open inside her chest." [pg. 13]

These sort of things crop up not infrequently, more so in the earlier sections of the book.

My second negative point is that there are occasionally inconsistencies from one paragraph to the next, things I would have expected an editor to pick up right away. For example, there's one instance where the sound of someone's heels are described as clacking on a polished wooden floor, but in the next paragraph the person is described as wearing old hiking boots. In another situation, a knife is held to someone's back where it can easily piece their heart, but in the next paragraph it is described how the blade nicks the skin on their throat. These small continuity errors crop up not infrequently.

My third and final negative point is the derivative nature of certain plot and background elements. To my mind, there are some striking similarities to Harry Potter (I won't go into detail here, to avoid spoilers).

But enough of the negative. I have some positive comments too.

Firstly, the book is very addictive. I don't know how or why, but it's something I've noticed with fanfic writing as well (although I admit I've read very little), and perhaps this is not coincidental, since I hear the author comes from a strong fanfic background. I wish I could put my finger on what causes this addictiveness. It's very easy reading - perhaps that's part of it. It requires little or not mental effort, much like a "disengage brain" blockbuster film. The characters and story were bouncing off the inside of my head for about an hour after I went to bed every time I read it last thing at night, wanting to know what happened next, thinking over what had passed. Very annoying, actually, when I'm trying to sleep!

Secondly, the author writes romantic scenes very well, another trait I believe is particularly noticeable in fanfic (perhaps because that is the point of a lot of it...)

Thirdly, there are quite a few decent plot twists that I didn't see coming. It was not a straightforward story in that respect I enjoyed that aspect of it. It is well rounded off, but also well set up for the following two books in the series.

So overall, I'd say with this book you get the good with the bad. The writing quality is not in the same league as most published novels I've read, but it does improve throughout the book. Aspects of the plot are derivative of already existing material, but it is very enjoyable nonetheless, and quite addictive. The world the author has created is interesting and fun to explore.

I don't know if I'll read later books in the series. I won't buy them, but I may borrow them if someone offers.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Jul 2010 12:33:18 BDT
Lizzie says:
I could not have written this any better and fully agree. Lots of Twilight and Harry Potter in the book.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Feb 2011 09:11:02 GMT
PJ Rankine says:
Having just read the author's fourth book 'Clockwork Angel' first, I was disappointed to see that her writing style hasn't improved. You absolutely nailed it with your review.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2011 22:48:02 BDT
LuluWilson says:
This was written a few years before Twilight. People seem to forget this!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2013 19:37:36 BDT
Paper Doll says:
Twilight was published 2 years before City of Bones! :)

Posted on 23 Aug 2013 19:56:05 BDT
I am really struggling with this book, it doesn't seem flow. I really enjoyed Harry Potter and Twilight but this book is lacking something and I can't quite work out what it is! The relationship between the main characters? The plot? I hope I can make it to the end of the book but I haven't got the burning desire to finish this book as I did with Twilight and Harry Potter.

Posted on 24 May 2014 18:28:41 BDT
Mal Rivers says:
I don't see anything wrong with the metaphors and similes. Not for the intended audience anyway.

I find it odd how reputation of the author pushes the opinion of language in this day and age. A new writer will be condemned for such use, yet an acclaimed writer would be applauded for similar usage.
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