Friday, April 15, 2011

Thoughts on “The City of Bones”

This week, I read the first book in The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare.  In The City of Bones Cassandra Clare has created a truly fascinating world.  To be honest, I love books that involve more than one supernatural.  The cast of characters includes: vampires, werewolves, warlocks, demons, fae (who we have yet to meet) and nephlim called shadow warriors)  It seems that these shadow warriors  police the other super natural beings but one whose name is Valentine wants more.  He wants to eliminate everyone who who isn’t human or a shadow warrior from the earth.

Some of the elements of the story are extremely predictable, and this is a shame, because  even as the book is building to a crescendo, the reader is well aware of what is going to happen.  The writing itself is at times repetitive and overly descriptive.  I quite sure she could have shaved a few pages off of this book, just by elimination of the redundancy. There is also a bit of teen angst, but I can honestly say that it is much less than other teen based urban fantasy that I have read in the past (TWILIGHT) and so it never does rise to the level of irritation.

This is once again an all White world which is ridiculous, because it is set in New York city, one of the most multi-cultural places on the planet.  I don’t know how the author justifies this complete erasure of people of colour.  We know that that people of colour exist, because Lucien hides out is in China Town, and they occasionally deliver Chinese food to people (Anyone see a problem with that?).  So I suppose there are at least Asians in Clare’s New York City, but they apparently don’t count enough to be a character.  We also learn in the book that everything that we have been told is true, and this for instance means that the Hindu Gods do indeed exist, as well as several folklore tales from countries of colour, but once again, Clare couldn’t not be arsed to weave them into her story.

As far as sexuality goes, there are two gay characters, one of  whom is extremely closeted.  The only person that knows that he is gay is his sister and he is afraid to let anyone else know because of a fear of rejection.  Clare does however tell us that this bigotry is something that really does not exist amongst the younger generation.  On top of it all, he ends up nearly sacrificing himself in the name of unrequited love for a straight man.  Yeah I know.  Though the Warlock of Brooklyn is clearly interested in him, he cannot think of anything but the love that can never be returned.

Actually, the faults in this story are quite common genre wide.  I think in large part it is because once again we have the same sort of person writing these books that erasure continues to happen.  I have to say that Clare created a great world and I was drawn in, but how much better would the story had been had it been inclusive and respectful of all people?  I love reading urban fantasy and I always will, however it seems that there will always be a but when it comes to equal representation.

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