Friday, November 2, 2012

Book Bitch: City of Bones chapter one

I've had this book on my "to bitch" list for a while. It rose to the top because I found it again yesterday (My books are filed in "fuck it" order, so just because I have a book doesn't mean I can find the book.

Anyway, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.

This book has a...uh, interesting history. Interesting in that "HOLY FUCK TRAIN WRECK" kind of way that I love so much. Cassandra Clare is the pen name of Cassandra Claire, which in turn is the pen name for Judith Rumelt. Cassie got famous for writing Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings fan fiction.

And then she got infamous for straight up pasting published authors words into her books. Here is the whole story, but to summerize, at some point she read The Secret Country and The Hidden Land, found several scenes much to her liking, and just pasted them into her work wholesale with just a couple changes. She also had a long, long, fucking long history of using quotes from famous TV shows (Buffy, Angel, Blackadder) as jokes in her stories. Most readers found them funny, quite a few thought they were a game (Guess the Show) and more than one person was HIGHLY disturbed that almost none of these additions were properly referenced until LONG after she'd been caught doing copypasta.

And when I say she got famous for doing this, I mean that several Harry Potter conventions happened purely because she would be there. Several popular Harry Potter websites exist because she got kicked off for the aforementioned plagerism, and when somebody stole her laptop her fans bought her a new one. Given how competative publishing is...well, I'm not going to say she only got published because she already had a ravening fan base, but it definately gave her a leg up over her competition.

Also? This book is going to become a movie. SOON. As in, they're signing casting contracts as we speak.

So how's the actual book? Let me put it this way. You know how Eragon was Star Wars with a heavy seasoning of Pern, Lord of the Rings and  a touch of Harry Potter? City of Bones is Harry Potter with a heavy seasoning of Bleach, Star Wars and a little Twilight.

Here's hoping the movie is just as good as Eragon's. 

Our story opens with a fifteen year old girl standing in line to get into a club. An all ages club. In New York City. On a Sunday.

...yeah. NO.

Okay, I don't know if "all ages clubs" are a thing. But I DO know that if it is an "all ages club" there is no way in HELL they have a liquor license. I cannot imagine that place having the kind of staff it would take to police drink distribution in that mess. Also...the club is busy espeically on a Sunday.

I just checked. New York State, like Texas, has what are called "Blue Laws", laws regulating what can and cannot be done on a Sunday. In Texas, we cannot sell booze of any sort until ten AM, with food, or until noon without food. Also, establishments where booze is the primary item of sale have to close. In New York, this was amended to a once a week closure, so if you don't shut down on Sunday you have to close some other day of the week.

Sundays and Mondays are the two worst days in food service/entertainment. The restaurant I work at is only open Sunday night if the following Monday is a holiday. If by law, you have to close your business? You're closing on Sunday. You'll lose less money that way.

Thirdly, a club is going to make most of their money on ALCOHOL. Which you cannot sell to a fifteen year old. There are no mentions of special wrist bands or stamps on the hands--you know that fancy ass x punk rockers sometimes have tattooed on the back of their hands? Straight Edge? That came because bouncers would put an X on the hands of anyone who is underage so the servers would know not to give them a drink. You can get arrested for serving a minor alcohol. Your place of business can be striaght up shut the fuck down for serving a minor alcohol. This WHOLE STORY requires a fifteen year old girl to be in a club she has no business being in for another three years.
Now, a place like this might exist. Maybe. I can't imagine it turning a profit, unless the cover charge is HUGE. And if the cover charge is HUGE the kids--including the under-age with the fake IDs--are going to go to a club where the charge isn't so big. And so I have this question for the author: why not just have the main character sneak into a club with a fake ID? Sure, she's breaking the law, but your universe is collapsing and we aren't even on page two.

Our main character's name is Clary Frey.

...As written by Cassandra Clare

Alright, it's not her real name. But the weird thing about pen/screen names is, they do tend to take on a life of their own. First, because it's your carefully chosen and crafted "This says everything there is to say about me" name. Second, because everyone you meet online is going to go, for example, "CHRISTWRITER" and not "CHELSEA!" when they meet you. Cassandra Clare has been Cassandra Clare for her audience for years. An audience that includes, I assume (given what I know about her history, it's a safe assumption) a large subset of her friends. She is introduced as Cassandra Clare at every public apperance.

So this would be like me naming a character "Kelsey" or "CW" Or...

...wait. My own main character's name is Casey Winter, right?


Clary and her best friend Simon get into a club. So does this other boy, who managed to use magic to get a knife into the club. Murder boy is looking for a victim to kill.

See, this is why you don't let MINORS run around UNSUPERVISED in a freaking dance club in NEW YORK CITY.

Murder Boy follows Hot Girl With Suspiciously Expensive Bauble into a storage room. Cut back to Clary. The club scene here is like every other club scene, except the Ecstasy being handed out is herbal. Is this a thing? (google search)...yes it is. And it's apparently just natural ephedrine. Okay. Because everybody in this under age rave is going to follow the rules.

You know what I think? I think this "club" is actually a church basement. Only way this makes sense.

Hey, how's the writing in this book?

Clary wasn’t paying much attention to their immediate surroundings— her eyes were on the blue-haired boy who’d talked his way into the club. He was prowling through the crowd as if he were looking for something. There was something about the way he moved that reminded her of something . . .

Something tells me the word "Something" is going to stop looking like a word before this book is over.

Clary, from her vantage point on a balcony, I guess, sees that Murder Boy is going off after Girl with Bauble, and that two other boys are following him, far enough back that Clary...well, let's quote the book again:

She couldn’t have said how she knew that they were following the other boy, but she did. She could see it in the way they paced him, their careful watchfulness, the slinking grace of their movements. A small flower of apprehension began to open inside her chest.

1. Clary's powers of description need a little help.

2. Way to contradict yourself in the same paragraph. She can't say how she knew they were following him, except, hey, she just did. 

3. A little weed killer will clear that all right up.

Anyway, she sees the boys following Murder boy have knives, and decides to drag her friend Simon, who has been muttering things like, "I'm cross dressing and sleeping with your mom" to see if she's paying attention to him. Obviously, she's the same kind of "friend" that Bella Swan is. Off they go, to rescue a total stranger from other total strangers with knives.

Instead of, you know, going to the bouncer whose JOB it is, breaking these things up.

So then Murder Boy discovers that Isabelle AKA Girl with Bauble and her two friends are here to murder him...and they do exactly that, revealing in the process that he isn't human, and neither are they. Even though the new Murder Trio totally are.

Clary goes into the room, and Murder boy/Murder Trio have Expositional Dialogue to clue Clary and the rest of us in. Murder Boy is a demon, Murder Trio are Shadowhunters, and nobody's being very careful about making noise because Clary sees and hears all of this from the door. Behind which is a club full of people. Anyway, after revealing the Murder Trio's names (Jace, Alec, Isabelle) Jace asks Demon Boy if he knows where Voldemort Valentine is.

Honest to God. The Big Bad in this book, based off Harry Potter fan fic, is named Valentine. I have no problem with derivative works (given that I'm no cleaner than anybody else) but for fuck's sake, when you file the serial numbers off make sure you get all the numbers. Even Fifty Shades of Gray managed to get all the letters off Edward and Bella when they turned them into Christian and Ana.

(Also, is it just me, or is there something demeaning about the fact that, in both pairings, the man gets to use his full name and the girl has to cut half of hers off? Christian/Edward is no easier to say than Anastasia/Isabella, you know.)

At this point, Jace decides to kill Demon Boy. Clary, being a pre-established Heroic Idiot, decides to intervene and save Demon Boy. Jace tries to educate her in human/demon relations, Demon Boy breaks free and he is murdered.

With a grimace Jace stood up. His black shirt was blacker now in some places, wet with blood. He looked down at the twitching form at his feet, reached down, and yanked out the knife. The hilt was slick with black fluid. The blue-haired boy’s eyes flickered open. His eyes, fixed on Jace, seemed to burn. Between his teeth, he hissed, “So be it. The Forsaken will take you all.”
So we can't have drugs or underage drinking in this YA novel, but we can straight up have our protagonists fucking murder an individual in a storage closet without reprocussions. WOW.

Yes, Demon Boy intended to kill a human tonight, but there really isn't any way the Murder trio could have known that, and there sure as fuck isn't any way that Clary could have known that. But we need killing this thing to be Justified and for the Murder Trio to be Good Guys, so we're given lots of information no character other than Demon Boy would have.

I probably should point out at this point that the most famous fan work by Cassandra Clare/Claire were three novel leingth works known as the Draco Trilogy, where Draco Malfoy became the hero and there was a love triangle involving Ginny Weasley and an original character. Draco Malfoy. The Draco Trilogy, according to most of the reviews I've read, is what City of Bones is based on. So every time the Murder Trio appears in the books, replace them with Death Eaters, and you've got their general attitude. They even call Clary a "mundie" which, like "Valentine" has the same first letter and number of letters as a major Harry Potter word, "muggle".

And not to spoil a major event later in the book, but Clare/Claire also wrote a fan fic called "The Mortal Instruments", which is the umbrella name for this series.

It was a Ron/Ginny incest fic. No bullshit.

Conversations are had between Clary and the Murder Trio, who seem very perplexed that a "mundie" can see them. The reason is revealed a moment later, when Friendly Simon comes in to find Clary. He obviously cannot see Murder Trio, and Murder Trio is highly amused by this. Clary looks at them, looks at the bouncer that Simon went to get (I feel so very, very sorry for Simon. He is the Ute for this series. And a dead ringer for Harry Potter) and then literally says "Whoops, my bad."

No. Seriously. The Murder Trio are gearing up to kill her, Simon comes in, says "Who are you talking to?" and she does this:

“I thought they went in here,” she said lamely. “But I guess they didn’t. I’m sorry.”

And then everybody goes home. Murder trio leaves club, Clary and Simon leave club. You know, at least in HP the muggle/wizard divide was kept in check by memory spells. How do Murder Trio know that Clary isn't going to blab to the whole world?

Nevermind. It's much more interesting to watch Simon try and fail to call a cab.

Sports fans, this one is gonna be FUN.


  1. dammit...trying to find that Ron/Ginny fic now so I can compare it to the book.

    1. I just spent way too much time trying to find it for you.

      Apparently Clare's lawyers have better google-fu than I do.