City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
Published March 24th, 2009
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Goodreads Synopsis: (the City of Glass synopsis has spoilers, so this is the synopsis of the first book)
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…
Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.
I rated City of Glass 4/5 stars.
This review, like all my reviews, is spoiler-free.
I started this book with a few preconceived notions about how I would read it, the first of which being that I’m not particularly fond of Cassandra Clare’s writing. I’ve never been shy about this: I think she is second to none when it comes to worldbuilding, but I’ve consistently found her writing style to be far too wordy.
That was not the case with City of Glass. Particularly in the second half of the book, I found myself sucked into the action and genuinely rooting for both the main characters and the rest of the cast. Something about this installment of The Mortal Instruments stood out to me; maybe it’s the cocktail of high stakes, likable characters, and seemingly impossible odds. I have always loved an underdog, and that’s exactly what Clare delivers.
The description of seemingly ordinary objects in this book was absolutely fantastic. In moments when the narrator described the scene around them, Clare seemed to choose just the right words to convey exactly what the narrator was experiencing. I found this to be true particularly when the narrator was describing smells, which is super random but something that I notice because, as a writer, I’ve always been told to incorporate how things smell into my writing.
The pacing was, most of the time, spot-on. After the first hundred or so pages, the plot moved at the exact right pace: Clare spent just enough time detailing each event or plot point without redundancy.
There’s a strong sense of family in this book that extends beyond bloodlines. In City of Glass, Shadowhunters band together to fight the impending and insurmountable evil that’s threatening to change their world for the worse. This can sometimes read as a bit hokey or overdone, but Clare gave the we’re-all-in-this-together trope a fresh twist by adding political and ethical intrigue that speaks to issues we’re struggling with today: what does it take to reach across the proverbial aisle and unite against a common cause?
I had a problem with one of the romances in this book. Without naming names, there’s a (somewhat) incestuous relationship that made me super uncomfortable. Everything resolves itself by the end of the book, but it felt like nobody in the story was talking about how weird it was that the people who were obviously fawning over each other… were brother and sister? The whole ordeal did not sit well with me and felt like a device to make the lovers seem star-crossed, even though I thought it was pretty icky. I might’ve understood the romance better if the characters had been more open in discussing the relationship.
Aside from the casual incest, this book had several complicated plotlines that included detailed family histories, which I think were well-explained. These family bloodlines and explanations of who is related to whom could have been difficult to digest, but Clare figured out how to verbalize the image of a family tree. I think that speaks to her ability to explain abstract concepts in a way that evokes a clear visual.
City of Glass is my favorite book in this series (so far). It was action-packed, wildly descriptive, and commented on themes that have practical application in today’s society. Overall, it was a pretty good read.
Have you read City of Glass? What’s your favorite book in The Mortal Instruments? How did my reading experience compare to yours?
Related Post // My Mini-Review of City of Ashes
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