My past with City of Bones is actually somewhat of an amusing one at times, but also a rather dejecting one. I cannot even begin with how devastated I was when I first learned of all the issues surrounding these novels and the author who penned them. The interesting thing is that I really enjoyed the books when I first came across them as a teenager, so much so that my first ever rating of the book was five stars. As I’ve grown up and as the truth behind Cassandra Clare’s behavior online–with an minimal overview of her bullying, manipulation of fans to bully others, manipulation of fans to get money, outright cruelty, attempts to get a woman kicked out of her university, and claiming herself as a victim when people point out how awful she has been to others (I’d have more links for you on her terrible behavior, but in true CC fashion, she’s gone out of her way to have it all expunged from the internet in an attempt to hide how shitty of a person she is)–as well as the plagiarism (more plagarism and a bit on her heavily borrowed “inspiration”) she has become somewhat widely known for came into the light for me, I find myself feeling more and more embarrassed and disgusted with the fact that I bought her books.
I’ve made no secret of my distaste for this woman, her behavior, and her plagiarist actions. But in the past I’ve never really pointed any of you to the places in which I was eventually made aware of all of this. I would suggest giving them all a read, several of which are only accessible thanks to the waybackmachine due to Clare’s attempts to silence all criticism of her behavior and writing. And honestly, the worst part about it all is that I once would have been willing to give Clare a second chance–at least from my end, I imagine she’s had plenty of second and third chances from many others–if she were capable of recognizing her egregious and harmful mistakes, owning up to them, and atoning for them but unfortunately nothing she has ever done leads me to believe that is possible. In fact, it was only last year that she spoke out on Twitter about some more supposed cyber bulling she was experiencing (I call BS).
Just as I did with Twilight a few months ago, I’ve decided to re-read Clare’s work before ridding myself of the books I’ve had since high school. I haven’t decided yet whether to donate or throw them out, honestly, since I don’t know if I want to subject other young readers to her but I definitely don’t want these books anymore. And in this sense, I’ve decided to review each of her books. I recognize, in a way, that if Clare ever comes across this post there’s some likelihood that she might attempt to attack me for it or try to have it removed, which is why ultimately the majority of what I’m offering is a list of links, many of firsthand accounts, for you to read. I’ll admit, there’s a lot of it. But it’s extensive and it tells the truth, unlike Clare. I feel bad, in a way, because the friendship Clare has with Holly Black is a huge reason why I don’t read Black’s books. I wonder if she knows the truth of Clare’s behavior.
Moving on to City of Bones, the fact of the matter is that the novel is largely based around ideas that were borrowed and pulled from a variety of other novels and altered in various, somewhat minute ways in order for the work to transform into Clare’s own piece of fiction. Looking below the surface of it all, though, it becomes difficult for me to credit much of the story and the characters to Clare’s writing ability as a result of my understanding for where it all came from. I find myself unable to ascertain whether the bits about the story that I enjoyed were actually a result of Clare’s own imagination or whether they were borrowed from somewhere else. You really don’t have to look far at other reviews to see where the ideas for her story and characters come from, though the majority does appear to be based around Harry Potter.
Clare also has a rather annoying habit of creating extensive love polygons that just become absolutely ridiculous. I’ve drawn some out before, but just taking a look at this book alone you can see an extensive intermingling of love relationships/pinings. We’ll begin with Clary, who can be romantically linked in this novel to both Jace and Simon. Jace can be linked to Clary and Alec. Simon can be linked to Clary and Isabelle. Alec can be linked to Jace and Magnus. Isabelle can be linked to Simon and Meliorn. And that, my friends, is just the first book. It’ll get worse later on. Frankly, it’s just far too much drama for it to all be necessary.
I can see, at times, why I enjoyed reading this story all those years ago. And I recall becoming emotionally invested enough for this to be the first book I actually threw against a wall upon finishing–I too, was thoroughly upset and disgusted with the news brought to light for Clary and Jace via Valentine–and had I not already bought the whole series (I was a little excessive when buying books back then, as I’d not come across the concept that it’s perfectly okay to begin a series and not continue on with it) I don’t know if I’d have kept reading enough to find out the resolution to this exceedingly disturbing reveal. But I also loved Twilight at this point in my life, to the point that I wasn’t aware enough of consent to find the actions of Jacob Black as disgusting as they truly are, so really, can I credit much to the fact that I liked this series? I’m not sure.
Where I’ll occasionally find myself rather endeared toward characters, particularly Simon, other characters are frustrating and quick to anger, all of which often ultimately leads to incredibly poor decision making. And I’m left wondering how I liked any of these characters to begin with. There are a lot of problematic pieces to the book as a whole, some of which stem from the blatant ways in which Jace will lash out at anyone, anytime he feels like, others that lie within the unfortunate girl-hate dynamic that exists between Isabelle and Clary, and more that comes from the servant-like roles the gay characters in this novel hold or the power dynamics between an older man in a relationship with a much younger man. I could go on and on about this, but the truth is that others have as well. And you don’t have to look far to find it all.
Clare’s writing, overall, is inconsistent in quality which often leads me to wonder how much of what I really liked was not her work. While enough was altered for Clare to avoid a plagiarism lawsuit–fair enough–it still leaves me feeling deeply unsure, almost to the point that I hope the parts I like are not hers. Ultimately, though, even I have noticed many grammatical errors and typos throughout the novel. The degree of information that is simply thrown at us rather than shown is immense and often I find that characters don’t always act in realistic manners. I’ll give her this, though; City of Bones is infinitely better written than Fifty Shades of Gray, so at least she has that merit. All in all, while I was once quite a fan of these books, I’m not as much any longer. Even the show, which I do actually enjoy quite a lot and has fixed numerous issues that the books had, is somewhat seeped in the unfortunate disgrace of the material it is adapted from.