City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments, Book 1

Common Sense Media says

Exciting start to teen fantasy series in urban setting.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers have the chance to compare the angel, nephilim, demon, vampire, fairy, and werewolf lore presented here with other depictions of fantasy creatures. The book also includes an intriguing use of runes, which may entice readers to find out more about their historical significance.

Positive messages

The series as a whole explores what makes a family and whether it's OK to hide a big part of yourself away from loved ones, even if it's in the name of protecting them from harm. It also tests the friendship and bravery of teens. And of course, with characters such as half-angels and demons it's good against evil, but there's also a gray area with an evil half-angel and some good vampires and werewolves.

Positive role models

Clary is brave, both facing scary demons and scary truths about who she really is. She owns her new identity gracefully. Jace and Simon may dislike each other, but are willing to come together to help Clary. A trusted adult advisor turns against the teens in his care.

Violence

Lots of fantasy violence, often with swords and knives, some rather gory, including throat cutting and fountains and puddles of blood. Battles between humans and other creatures such as grotesque-looking demons, a house full of vampires, and werewolves. The main character's mother is kidnapped and she imagines the worst.

Sex

Some kissing, a mention of having sex.

Language

One use of "bitch," "ass," and various other mild insults.

Consumerism

Shoe, eyeglass brands, and video games mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Herbal Ecstasy mentioned, plus some drinking and smoking by teens in bars. Simon accepts a drink at a party and really pays the price.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is lots of fantasy violence with swords and knives here, including some that is gory, with fountains and puddles of blood, throat stabbing and cutting, etc. Also, there's some kissing. This is the start of a series that explores some compelling ideas, such as what makes a family and whether it's OK to hide a big part of yourself away from loved ones, even if it's in the name of protecting them from harm.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Clary goes to an all-ages nightclub, and there encounters Shadowhunters and demons, all of whom are invisible to everyone else. This encounter, and her mother's subsequent kidnapping, brings her into a shadow world of age-old warfare between the Shadowhunters and the demons, from whom they protect humanity. Clary discovers that her mother and her own past are not what she thought, and that she is intimately involved in a power struggle among the Shadowhunters.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Teen urban fantasy is a popular sub-genre, and this first installment of a new series has all the essential elements: a city-dwelling teen discovers an invisible world of magical beings and monsters living hidden among us, and that she has a place and power within that world due to a past that has been kept hidden from her. It's the variations the author wrings out of the formula, and the attitude, that make the difference. Author Cassandra Clare doesn't go for the teen sarcasm and black humor (much), nor the hip urban cool, of some of the other members of this small but growing category.

Instead, she offers an intriguingly complex world with reams of backstory involving numerous characters, creatures, factions, and relationships. In addition to the various sides among the Shadowhunters, there are vampires, werewolves, faeries, warlocks, and others, each group with its own politics, powers, and agendas. Then she wraps it all up with exciting action told in vivid, occasionally melodramatic, but always engrossing, prose that sweeps the reader along and makes even the exposition fascinating.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of the book series. Why do you think teens are interested in reading a story with several installments? What do authors and publishers have to gain by creating a series? 

  • How does this book compare with other fantasy novels you've read? What similarities and differences do you notice in the types of characters, their struggles, their romances, etc.

Book details

Author:Cassandra Clare
Genre:Fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:March 1, 2007
Number of pages:485
Read aloud:12
Read alone:12

This review of City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments, Book 1 was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Written byAnonymous August 24, 2013
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

This is such a gripping book

4.4/5 8.8/10 I am hooked to this book. One page 200 in 3 days. So far there has only been a few gory scenes. This is such a well-written book and I really love it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Adult Written bychilanga April 17, 2009
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

Unpleasantly surprised

I was unpleasantly surprised at the inaccurate review given for this book. It doesn't mention language or sex and there was enough in the first chapter to cause me, an adult, to stop reading it. The first scene in the nightclub had sexual innuendo and harsh swearing. I am new to this website and it leaves me doubting the accuracy of the reviews. I am a positive person, but this left me jaded.
Teen, 17 years old Written bytrackgirl175 July 18, 2009
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

best since harry potter

i love love love LOVE this book. best ever. the characters suck you into the story and keep you guessing till the very end, and even after that. there is just enough romance to get tweens interested but not so much that they're lying awake thinking about terrible things. the blood is no big deal because THERE ISN'T THAT MUCH. great book, i highly reccommend
Teen, 15 years old Written bybibliophile February 5, 2009
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Wonderful Read!

This book was absolutely amazing! A beautiful plot, intriguing characters, and great action. There is swearing fairly often, including sh-t, p-ss, d-mn, h-ll, -ss, and the Lord's name in vain. One guy is mentioned as being gay, and another man winks at him and says 'call me'. Maybe an innuendo or two. It was truly a wonderful book that I recommend to anyone thirteen and older.

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