Recommended by: Darla at Books and other thoughts
Many spoilers to follow, but you can probably guess them while you’re reading anyway.
City of Bones is all about a girl called Clary who witnesses a most unpleasant murder and gets drawn into the wild and wacky world of demon-slaying. Turns out her mother used to be a demon-slaying badass chick, but left that life to pursue normalcy as a single mum. Clary has a steamy crush on one of the demon-hunters, Jace, and they have banter and sexual tension; there’s a wicked guy called Valentine (it was hardcore with the three-syllable names in this book, incidentally: Jocelyn, Clarissa, Jonathan Christopher, Isabelle, Valentine, Lucian. Damn. Apparently in the world of demon-slaying you must have a three-syllable name or be doomed to blandness.) who wants to murder children and rid the world of even the niceish half-demon hybrids like werewolves and vampires; and the quiet, sensitive (two-syllable name) guy is gay.
I don’t know if this was the most predictable book of all time, or if I was seriously clever while reading it. I think it was a fairly predictable book and I was a teeny bit clever while reading it. Because I guessed every single plot point in this whole entire book. And with a sense of dismay and resignation at the inevitability of it all. It was like this one time I was taking a practice GRE English Subject test for fun (don’t judge), and there was a section where you had to say what book each passage came from, right? I looked down at one passage and saw the word “swain”, and I immediately felt very resigned and thought, “Oh, Lycidas.” I don’t know why (though I was quite right) I should have known this, particularly from the word swain, since I read Lycidas once two years ago and thought it was tiresome.
Well, City of Bones was much like that. Like when nobody said anything about Jace’s real name? I was all, Oh, he’s her brother. J.C. Cute, and could not one bit support their romance because I was too busy being squiffed out by how dismayed they were going to feel upon discovering they were siblings. And when Hodge told her about his curse, being confined to the Institute? I knew straight away he was a vile betrayer. And when I got to the bit at the end where it’s revealed that Valentine is Jace’s and Clary’s father, I sort of thought, Well, yeah, we’ve known that all along. But then I glanced back through the book and realized that no, we hadn’t.
Never mind all that. Here is the strange bit. Clary has a substitute father-figure called Luke, and she’s eavesdropping on a conversation Luke’s having with the bad guys, and they call him Lucian. I immediately thought, Oh, okay, he’s a werewolf then. Which, you know, as a deductive process – that doesn’t make any sense. They’d hardly mentioned werewolves at all up to that point, there hadn’t been any clever hints about the full moon, yet indeed it proved that he was a werewolf. I did a mental census in my head of Lucians I can think of, and here are the results:
Lucian the Greek satirist. I don’t know anything about him except he did satire and was from Assyria or Akkadia or something else with an A. I never took Greek, so if he wrote about werewolves, I don’t know about it.
Lucien the librarian from The Sandman. Nothing there. Man doesn’t look a bit like a wolf.
Lucian Holland, son of Merlin Holland, son of Vyvyan (yes, really – that’s what happens when Oscar Wilde gets to name you; the other kid was named Cyril) Holland, younger son of Oscar Wilde. This one seems the most likely for associations, to be honest, since I forgot the librarian’s name was Lucien until I was buying books online yesterday evening, and since I have never read the Greek satirist. Evidently my brain believes that Oscar Wilde’s great-grandson is a werewolf. Who knew?
City of Bones wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t well-written, and the story wasn’t very original, but it was interesting enough for me to either get the next two out of the library any time I happen to see them there, or to read their Wikipedia entries to find out what happens. Possibly both. And it was funny in bits, but not that funny. So oh well.
As a sidenote, I was enchanted when Clary made reference to a button she had that said Still Not King – I remember those! Turns out it’s the same woman – she wrote the Very Secret Diaries and now City of Bones. Thinking about the Very Secret Diaries snaps me right back to high school, when all those movies were just coming out, and how tim found that thing about Legolas Greenleaf, he da man, and made it into a haiku:
When you ask “Who da
man?” I say wit’ conviction,
“Legolas da man.”
And how we all went to see Fellowship in a massive group and my friend cried and cried and cried and cried after Boromir’s death, and I felt concerned that her wracking sobs were preventing her from enjoying the touching Frodo-Sam scene, so I whispered a number of consoling things about what a jerk Boromir was anyway and how we would assuredly see him in flashbacks, before she managed to convey to me through her tears that she was weeping hysterically for joy at Frodo and Sam’s beautiful friendship. And how Nezabeth and I watched this one bit of the Fellowship extras DVD every time we felt depressed about our Logic homework, this one bit where Viggo Mortensen told a story about his boat and the body double for Frodo.
I’m glad you enjoyed this – and it’s funny, I guessed most of it, too, and on one hand I did feel clever, but on the other, she did plant things so that you wouldn’t feel like it was all suddenly out of the blue (I feel a bit cheated when that happens). I thought maybe it’s because I’m OLD compared to the audience it’s meant for, who presumably haven’t read so many books in their lives – but then I recommended it to my fellow children’s librarian, and she was completely stunned by the revelations! So I guess we can feel smugly clever. 🙂
I will be interested to hear what you think if you read the sequel, which I found had some interesting departures from the expected and did surprise me with some of the twists and turns. The writing is more solid, and the characters continue to be fun and compelling.
There’s also a Lucien in that crappy vampire/werewolf movie Underworld.
Don’t ask me how I remember that, since I cannot for the life of me remember the names of either of the main characters, but it’s true, and would explain your leap of logic better than descendants of Oscar Wilde.
Hey, I bet you’re right.
Well, darn. It’s much funnier if I think Oscar Wilde is a werewolf. I’ve been entertaining myself with fantasies of Oscar Wilde morphing into a werewolf in the middle of the night and rending Bosie limb from limb. HAHAHAHAHA TAKE THAT YOU LITTLE BRAT.