Book Review: City of Bones (part 4)
I’m home from college. That doesn’t mean I have loads of free time, but that does mean I have no homework for a few months. (Except trying to teach myself hiragana and katakana over the summer so that I can take the slightly-higher-level intro Japanese class next semester, rather than the super-duper-beginner class, which meets at like 8 am.)
Things happen in this chapter! There’s a fight scene! Yay!
City of Bones: Chapter Four – Ravener
We left off, as you may recall, with Clary running home to check on her mom after receiving an ominous phone call. She’s also carrying a device called a Sensor, which she snatched off Jace, believing it to be a cell phone,
When she reaches home, she sees that the lights are on, which she thinks is a good sign for some reason. As soon as she steps into the foyer, her stomach sinks as she notices the stairhead light has burned out. Why this is such a cause for concern is not stated, as this seems like a fairly mundane occurrence.
Clary’s stopped by Madame Dorothea (their eccentric downstairs neighbor, if you recall), who mentions that Clary’s mom has been making a “god-awful racket” upstairs. Her feeling of dread increasing, Clary heads up to her apartment.
Every light in the place is on. Clary’s mom’s purse and keys are where they usually are, indicating she’s home, or at least that she was. Both windows in the living room are open, and several of the couch cushions are ripped open as well. The bookshelves have been tipped over, as has the piano bench. Worst, all of the paintings on the walls have been cut from their frames and shredded.
In a panic, Clary checks the kitchen. No one there. The cabinets are open, and, save for a broken bottle of sauce, the room seems mostly undisturbed.
Clary runs over the possibilities for what could have happened in her head. Her first thought is robbers, but the really expensive stuff — TV, laptops, other electronics — is untouched, as is Clary’s mother’s purse. She knows she should leave the apartment and try and call the police, but she doesn’t want to leave before she’s found her mom.
Clary’s mother’s bedroom looks untouched. As Clary is looking around, she suddenly hears a slithering noise from behind her, approaching. She turns around, and… well.
It was crouched against the floor, a long, scaled creature with a cluster of flat black eyes set dead center in the front of its domed skull. Something like a cross between an alligator and a centipede, it had a thick, flat snout and a barbed tail that whipped menacingly from side to side. Multiple legs bunched underneath it as it readied itself to spring.
Now, I wouldn’t want you to miss the thrilling details of the ensuing fight, but I also don’t want to take too long summarizing it, so here’s the rundown:
> Wild FREAKISH HELL BEAST wants to fight!
> FREAKISH HELL BEAST used TACKLE!
> FREAKISH HELL BEAST’s attack missed!
> CLARY used FLEE!
> Can’t escape!
> FREAKISH HELL BEAST used THREATENING SPEECH!
> CLARY used FRAMED PHOTO THROW!
> It’s not very effective…
> FREAKISH HELL BEAST used TACKLE!
> CLARY used STRUGGLE!
> But it failed!
> FREAKISH HELL BEAST used ACID DROOL!
> CLARY used the SENSOR!
> It’s super effective!
> Enemy FREAKISH HELL BEAST used PARTING STING!
> Enemy FREAKISH HELL BEAST fainted!
> CLARY fainted!
Clary comes to outside, lying on damp grass while Jace kneels over her, tearing a piece of cloth into strips to make a bandage. He tells her not to move, and that the freakish hell beast (called a Ravener, evidently) stung her in the back of the neck — not with a lot of power, since it was half-dead by that point, but, nonetheless, she needs to be taken to the Institute.
Clary asks about the Ravener. Jace explains that it’s a type of demon, just a less sophisticated one than the one she saw at the club.
The bandage, which Jace ties around Clary’s neck, has some sort of salve on it that numbs the pain from the sting. He assures her that she’ll still be dead soon if they don’t get her to the Institute. Police are on the scene, but, as Clary notices, the police are demons too; Jace tells her that “demons have a way of hiding their tracks.”
Jace uses a thing called a stele to draw a symbol on Clary’s wrist so that she won’t be noticed. He probably should have done one to prevent her from fainting, though, because guess what she does next.
Thoughts So Far:
Swear to god you didn’t miss anything great in that action scene when I decided to do a Pokémon-style summary. The best thing it had going for it was description, and about half of that felt out-of-place given that the context is an action scene. (We did not, for example, need to know that the picture Clary threw at the Ravener showed Clary, Luke, and her mother about to go on the bumper cars at Coney Island.)
To clarify, though — Clary killed the thing, or at least incapacitated it, by shoving the Sensor in its mouth when it lunged, mouth open, at her. She didn’t know what she was doing; it was the action of someone panicked and desperate. So we’re not going the route of “Clary is magically great at fighting demons.” We may, however, be going the route of “Clary is not competent at anything plot-relevant,” which unfortunately is a trope you see female protagonists in YA urban fantasies having sometimes. Bella Swan comes to mind. However, it’s too early to pass judgement.
I’ll give the author points for the detail about the torn-up paintings; it’s weird, disturbing, and makes you want to know why the hell all the paintings needed to be so deliberately cut from their frames and cut to pieces. However, points off for the scene changes here. Ending a scene by having Clary faint? Twice in a row? Circumstances aside, that seems really fucking lazy from an authorial standpoint. The second time, there’s not even any direct causation — sure, any number of things could have done it, but that makes it read even more as “author needed to find a way to end the chapter.”