Too much killing

City of Bones  - Cassandra Clare

I liked the book, the first in the author’s Mortal Instruments trilogy. It was a fast read, inventive and addictive. I couldn’t put it down. The entire series targets YA readers, and although I do not belong in that category, I enjoyed the mad capers of the tale, its psychological simplicity, and its dauntless young heroes. The plot had so many twists and turns I don’t even remember some of them, but they absorbed me at the time of reading. Escapism at its best.

The protagonist Clary is a normal teenager in NY (as much as teenagers can be normal), taking art lessons, listening to bands, going to clubs, arguing with her mom. Until one day, she sees angels and monsters, and her worldview turns upside down. Thrust into the most abnormal situation of her (or anyone’s) life, pursued by demons, with her mom mysteriously missing and a villain stalking her, Clary adjusts to her new reality pretty quickly, as only a teenager can. She makes new friends, keeps the old ones, and navigates the complicated world of Shadowhunters – warriors of the Light – with poise and courage.

Although she doesn’t have any training with weapons or martial arts or anything even remotely military, her common sense contributes to her new friends’ perennial fight against evil, and her humanity and kindness make her exceptional among the aloof demon-slayers.

I won’t recount the plot here but I’d like to say that the writing is professional, the descriptions picturesque, and the pacing swift like a bullet. The narration whizzes heedlessly past multiple events towards the explosive conclusion, without regard to logic or science, and the tension is building from the first page to the last, but the characters are… anime-like.

Beautiful and masterfully drawn, they tickled my esthetic senses. They tempted me to read about their further escapades. For sure, I’ll get the next book in the series from the library. But none of the characters touched my heart or engaged my emotions, just my curiosity and my craving for written adventures. 

No, that’s not true. There is one exception – Jace. This damaged boy-hero encountered too much brutality in his short life. I wanted to mother him, to give him all the affection he lacked since childhood, to open his locked soul and show him that love could be sweet, that he doesn’t have to hide behind his stoic cynicism.

Only one thing turned me against Jace – his hunger for killing. The entire book is full of death and blood, destruction and betrayal. Granted, most of the dead are monsters or otherwise bad guys, but the heroes’ obsession with killing grated on my nerves. Isn’t there another, more civilized way to solve problems, without kicking butt and cutting throat of everyone in sight?

Overall, this was a good novel, and I look forward to its sequel.