Book Review: City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare’s novel, “City of Bones,” is a young adult novel that focuses on 15-year-old Clary, whose world starts to unravel when she discovers she can suddenly see supernatural beings that live among the mundanes like her in New York City. On the heels of this startling discovery, Clary’s mom goes missing, and she has to embrace her new acquaintances, the Shadow Hunters (demon hunters), in order to survive.

The novel, the first of three “Moral Instruments” tales, has been criticized for its clumsy expositon about the Shadow World. The story reads so easily and quickly, though, that an entertained reader would probably be willing to forgive the interruptions. The characters’ witty dialogue and the author’s imaginative descriptions of the Shadow World versions of our own transportation, accomodations and government keep the reader moving along event when the plot drags a little.

The characters are interesting, if not extremely deep or three-dimensional, and the writer manages to provides some surprises along the way, one of which turns out to be extremely awkward. Overall, it provides several hours of fun involvement in a fantasy world that’s not too hard on the head or the heart.

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Brief Take: Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

There’s a little more high school and a little less history and philosophy in this book than I’d prefer, but it is an engaging story. Bella, an ordinary, regular teenage girl from Arizona, moves to rainy Forks, Washington, and there meets Edward, a dominant, brooding, extremely attractive vampire. Bella comes to love him with her whole heart and soul, and Edward  confesses that he finds her so delectable that he may not be able to control himself around her. Any allegories to sex are completely intentional, so you can see why so many women love this series of books.

The vampires in Edward’s “family” of choice are almost *too* good and pure, and the family love-fest scenes started to make me sleepy. Luckily some villains show up and the end is more exciting.

“Twilight” could have been a formulaic romance, and it’s not, for which I am thankful. It’s worth reading, if for no other reason than to get to the next book, “New Moon.”

Book Review: New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that this book is about what happens to Bella, the regular teenage girl protagonist of “Twilight,” when Edward, the vampire she loves desperately, leaves her. She is devastated. She is depressed. She is inconsolable. I myself had a couple of very intense relationships a little like this when I was in my twenties, and I could definitely relate to Bella’s predicament and how author Stephenie Mayer expresses it. In fact, it was so realistic that I was considering not reading any more when Bella finds a new source of comfort: her friendship with Jacob, the Native American boy she has known from childhood. Obviously, he’s not the “perfect” Edward, but Bella begins to suspect that allowing herself some small measure of happiness away from Edward would not be “selling out.”

Jacob, who is 2 years younger than Bella, has his own period of painful growth to endure. Both his physical and emotional progress is laid out for the reader (eventually), as he comes to terms with the kind of adult he is becoming and tries to make peace with it.

This book contains some of the history, mythology and philosophy that the first novel lacked, and it finishes with an even better and more suspenseful flourish. Some Romeo and Juliet comparison is included, which may be appropriate, if cliched, for the age of the characters. Fortunately, Bella is modern enough, and sophisticated enough, to handle the comparisons her mind insists on making without getting too sentimental about it.