I never do this, but I have to admit I picked up City of Bones because there’s a movie version being released at the end of August and my friend wants us to go see it. We’ve gone to see a handful of films together that were inspired by books we’ve both enjoyed, and I look forward to seeing this one with her. I already know it will involve about three pounds of candy and one of those tubs of popcorn that could be shared comfortably with eight; we will undoubtedly leave the theatre shaky and slightly sick, and it will be marvelous.
However. First things first. I refuse to go to such a movie without first reading the source material. It just bothers me. Maybe film geeks can do it, but my heart belongs to the written word, and I could never skip this integral step. I have to create my own version of the characters before Hollywood comes along and superimposes its ideas over mine.
That being said, I’m about halfway through the book and it actually feels like it was tailor-made to become a movie. I know this series has been around for a while (since 2007, according to Wikipedia), and I also know it’s massively popular, especially with its targeted young adult audience, but so far, it’s not hitting quite the right buttons for me.
I find this particularly surprising because by all accounts, it should fit right into my guilty pleasure niche (YA urban fantasy). The biggest challenge I’m having (and perhaps this is because I’d already seen a trailer for the movie before I started reading the book) is that the descriptive prose feels custom-made for adaptation. The plot is engaging, and I enjoy the characters, but it lacks the depth I was expecting (and which I often find in this genre). I keep wondering if Clare’s goal all along was to have this brought to the screen, and if so, she’s done an excellent job. This book was made to be seen rather than read. The setting is lush, the costumes highly visual, and the story, while interesting, is simple enough to be highly translatable to that medium.
Of course, this is also her first novel, and I’m willing to give a lot of leeway for firsts. Also, I’m a member in good standing of the “any book that gets kids to read” club. If City of Bones appeals to young readers (it does, and I completely understand why, even at the halfway point), then it’s okay with me that it isn’t perfect. I read so many books as a child and teenager (and let’s be honest, adult) that I wouldn’t even want to admit to; I completely understand the appeal of a book that’s imperfect but also compelling.
I’m curious to see where she goes from the point I’m at, and whether she’ll be able to create a scenario where I feel compelled to pick up the next book (before the inevitable second movie, that is). I hope she manages it because a part of me would really like to see how her writing evolves. She has to earn it though. The never-ending siege of books to be read is poised to push me away from the series if it doesn’t up its game in the next two hundred or so pages…
For more about Cassandra Clare, head here.