Welcome back to the sporking of City of Bones, where the sporking proper begins.
We’re beginning part one, titled Dark Descent. We’ll see just how ‘dark’ it gets. (Answer: not very)
It also comes with another pretentious quote, this time from john Milton’s Paradise Lost:
I sung of Chaos and Eternal Night,
Taught by the heav’nly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to reascend…
That’s book 3, lines 17-19. This portion is Milton aping classical poets by evoking a muse, or in this case, the Holy Spirit. These lines have nothing to do with the plot of Paradise Lost, and just like the quote from Julius Caesar, have little to do with the plot of this book. Maybe CC is trying to ape Milton, but more likely she just liked that last line. I’m sensing a theme here…
Moving on, chapter one is titled ‘Pandemonium’. Fun fact: Pandemonium is the name Milton gave to the capital city of Hell in Paradise Lost, and it roughly translates to “All Demons Place” in Greek. Maybe that’s why CC included that quote…
But again, I digress. You see how much I actually want to read this thing.
Our story begins with a bouncer at an all-age club called the Pandemonium Club telling a kid he can’t bring a wooden beam into the club, and is holding up the line in the process. Why they didn’t drag the kid off to the side to let the other potential customers in, I don’t know. And while this is in New York, it’s also mentioned that it’s Sunday night, so why there are this many people trying to get into any club is a bit of a mystery, at least to me. Also, the bouncers are described as ‘fierce’, but we’ll see just how wrong that is very soon.
The kid explains that it’s part of his costume, though since it’s later revealed that it’s August and there’s no description of anyone else wearing a costume, I have to wonder why he’d use that as an excuse in the first place.
And we have our first count: Plot Hole. They might not be super blatant, but occasionally CC seems to forget or ignore certain things, mostly for the sake of forcing the story go the way she wants it to, rather than allowing it to move in a logical way. Things that her editor should have caught. (Note: all counts will be tallied at the end of each chapter and reset for the next. Feel free to make a drinking game out of it if you like and happen to have a spare liver handy.)
Plot Hole: 1
Clary Fray, our protagonist, decides to get a better look at this kid, since he’s holding up the line, and we get our first description. You’ll see why I quickly developed issues with this book.
He had electric blue dyed hair that stuck up around his head like the tendrils of a startled octopus…
I have three problems with this sentence:
- First: the description of the boy’s hair color. While the sentence makes sense, the phrasing feels awkward. Compare “electric blue dyed hair” with “hair dyed electric blue.” They both get the message across, but the second feels more natural, at least to me. Also, I think we can assume his hair is dyed, what with blue not being a natural hair color.
- Second: the use of the word ‘tendrils’ rather than ‘tentacles’, which octopuses actually have. Not that this book needs mention of tentacles.
- Third: the use of the phrase “startled octopus”. Again, a more appropriate comparison might be to a porcupine, because I’m pretty sure a startled octopus wouldn’t be waving it’s tentacles around. Better yet, just describe his hair as “spiked” and saved time.
This also brings us to our next count, Weird Word Choice. CC occasionally makes some rather strange terminology or says something in an odd way, and I’ll be keeping track of them.
Weird Word Choice: 2
Anyway, Blue-octopus-head boy further explains that he’s dressed as a ‘vampire hunter’, though I’ve never heard of any vampire hunters with blue hair, even in Anime, nor one who uses what sounds like a two-by-four as a stake. But Blue-hair demonstrates that it’s really made of foam rubber by pushing down on it, making it “[bend] as easily as a blade of grass bending sideways.”
Weird Word Choice: 3
It bent like a very bendy thing. CC, I know you’re a fan of shows like Buffy and Blackadder, but you are not Joss Whedon, nor are you Rowan Atkinson. Stop trying.
Clary gets a look at the kid’s eyes, which are a green likened to antifreeze or spring grass, though thankfully not in a simile, which she attributes to colored contacts. Our author is really going out of her way to make sure we know the kid looks weird.
But apparently that’s all it takes to convince our ‘fierce’ bouncers, who in real life would have probably taken the thing anyway, and Mr. Anime-hair slips by the bouncer.
Clary admires the boy for another minute, and says her mother would describe him as “insouciant.”. Now, I actually had to stop and look that word up – Dictionary.com defines it as “free from concern, worry, or anxiety; carefree; nonchalant.” And, while CC doesn’t fall into the same trap as Meyer (i.e. using a similar, but still wrong, word), I have to wonder why she’d use that particular one, since any of those other choices would work better, since the reader wouldn’t have to stop to look the word up. That definitely gets a count.
Weird Word Choice: 4
Simon, Clary’s friend, comments that she thinks Blue-hair is cute, and she elbows him in the ribs. Speaking as someone who’s had female friends, I wouldn’t have said anything. But again, that’s me.
We now switch to Blue-hair, inside the club, which is full of dry-ice smoke and colored lights. It’s revealed that the stake-by-four isn’t really a prop, but a blade, presumably a sword (dun-dun-dun). He disguised it using magic, though why he didn’t just make it invisible or disguise it as something slightly less innocuous I don’t know, and it’s never explained.
Plot Hole: 2
Also, remember that he has a weapon. It’ll be important later.
The narration goes on about how Blue-hair could have skipped all that mess with the bouncer, but fooling the “mundies” (i.e. normal people, and you’ll quickly grow to hate this term) is part of the fun. Points to CC for at least making this guy seem like a bit of a jerk, if nothing else. Though this is the only time she’ll intentionally make a character like this.
He looks around the dance floor, and we get our first bit of good CC writing, as she does a decent job describing a bunch of teenagers at a club, all dancing and sweaty. He then spots a girl coming towards him, with dark hair and wearing a “floor-length white gown, the kind women used to wear when this world was younger,” with sleeves that “belled out around her slim arms.” I’ll admit it’s a bit old fashioned, but I could see a girl actually wearing that today. Ladies, feel free to tell me that I’m wrong. I promise I won’t get offended.
Anyway, the girl is also wearing big red pendant “the size of a baby’s fist”, which Blue-hair realizes is “real – real and precious.”, and I have to wonder, a real what? A real pendant? Well, it would be pretty hard to wear jewelry that doesn’t exist. A real ruby? Yeah, a ruby that big would be pretty valuable, though it just raises questions as to why she’s wearing something like that while clubbing in New York. Is it some kind of magical stone, perhaps?
And no, these questions will not be answered.
Plot Hole: 3
CC’s really showing her fanfic roots here with all the things that get swept under the rug because she either didn’t think about them or changed her mind later but didn’t go back to fix the earlier bits.
The girl leads Blue-hair over to a more secluded spot and lifts up her skirt to reveal the thigh-high boots she’s wearing. Considering the length of that skirt, and how high she’d have to lift it, that’s a lot of skirt. Methinks CC forgot her own description. Again, fanfic roots.
Plot Hole: 4
Blue-hair, responding like any heterosexual man, is immediately drawn in, though he seems intent on killing her, as the girl leads him off to the storage room.
We now flash back to Clary, who’s dancing with Simon “between a group of teenage boys in metallic corsets, and a young Asian couple who were making out passionately…” I tell you this for two reasons:
- First: I’m pretty sure CC doesn’t know what a corset is; otherwise she probably wouldn’t have guys wearing them. And if she does, I’m a bit worried.
- Second: remember that comment about the Asian couple. It too will be important later.
Simon tries to start up a conversation with Clary, but she ignores him.
Also, Clary apparently has the perception of Sherlock Holmes, because she notices a boy selling “herbal ecstasy” (how do you know it’s herbal in the first place?) even though she “wasn’t paying much attention to their immediate surroundings” because she’s busy looking for Blue-hair.
Simon, undaunted, continues to try to talk to this girl who is allegedly his friend, and we finally get a description of him. He’s got brown hair and glasses, and is wearing a t-shirt and jeans. Pretty normal, all things considered, though CC describes him as looking “as if he were on his way to chess club.” What is it with bad YA authors using “chess club” in a negative sense? I get the implication, but it’s not the 1950s – nerds come in different flavors now. (Full disclosure: I was in chess club in middle school, so I might be taking that bit a little personally.)
Clary finally spots Blue-hair, across the crowded, smoke-filled dance floor no less, and describes him “[looking] a little lost, as if he’ hadn’t found whom he was looking for.” First, that isn’t the impression I got from his narration. Second, even if ‘whom’ is technically correct, it still sounds weird, at least to me.
Plot Hole: 5
Weird Word Choice: 5
Clary considers going over and talking to him, and has a nice little fantasy. Again, good on CC for having a teenage female protagonist who isn’t effectively celibate before she meets ‘the one’.
But then Clary sees Blue-hair go off with the girl in the white dress, and gets discouraged. There’s another mention of the giant red pendant, and I’m wondering if it was intended to be relevant to the plot at one point.
Simon again tries to talk to Clary, and again gets no response. Clary keeps watching Blue-hair and White-dress, despite “the darkness, smoke, and artificial fog…”, even spotting two guys following Blue-hair.
Plot Hole: 6
That clinches it – Clary Fray has supervision. That’s the only explanation.
And at this point, Simon says possibly the funniest line in the whole book.
“Meanwhile,” Simon added, “I wanted to tell you that lately I’ve been cross-dressing. Also, I’m sleeping with your mom. I thought you should know.”
Bask in its glory, people. It’s not quite Marcus Cole’s space dragon line, but take what you can get. Simon should get out of this novel while he still can.
Clary watches as White-dress leads Blue-hair into the storage room, and this is where that Asian couple comes in. See, the narration says that couples “sneaking off to the dark corners of the club to make out.” Now, remember the Asian couple dry-humping not two feet away? Yeah, I have to wonder how naive Clary is to think White-dress and Blue-hair are just going to ‘make out’ in the closet. She’s supposed to be fifteen, not stupid.
Then Clary demonstrates her supervision again as, from across the dark, smoke/fog-filled and crowded dance floor, she not only sees the two guys following Blue-hair, but also sees one of them pull out a knife. She tells Simon, and even though he doesn’t see anything, he does the sensible thing and goes to get security. Clary, being a YA fantasy heroine, decides to follow the guys with the knife.
The POV then shifts back to Blue-hair, and White-dress finally gets a name – Isabelle. Because that name has such wonderful associations these days. They start chatting/flirting, Blue-hair notices she has a bracelet on one wrist. He get’s a bit closer and realizes that it’s no bracelet – it’s a tattoo.
Because tattoos are just so easy to mistake for bracelets, what with one being a piece of jewelry usually made of metal, and the other two-dimensional and made of ink.
Isabelle hits him, and then suddenly pulls a whip out of nowhere, which she uses to trip Blue-hair. Kinky. Again, remember that she can do this. It will be important later (I seem to be saying that a lot).
While Isabelle laughs at him, Blue-hair thinks that he should have known there was something up with Isabelle, because “No human girl would wear a dress like the one Isabelle wore.” Again, ladies, tell me if this is wrong. It really wouldn’t surprise me.
Anyway, Isabelle ties him up, with a smile described as like “poisonous water,” whatever that looks like.
Weird Word Choice: 6
Isabelle calls in her buddies, and shoves Blue-hair against a concrete pillar (how big is this storage room, anyway?). One of the boys ties Blue-hair’s wrists together behind the pillar with some piano wire. Honestly, they sound like they’re about to start a really nasty interrogation. And they do. The one who tied Blue-hair up, described only as being “just as pretty” as Isabelle (even though we barely have a description of her). He starts asking Blue-hair questions, namely if there are any more of whatever he is.
Pretty-boy shows Blue-hair more of the weird tattoos, and Blue-hair identifies them as ‘Shadowhunters’, though what that means isn’t explained, while the other guy “[grins] all over his face.”
Weird Word Choice: 7
As opposed to what? Grinning on his elbows?
Switch back to Clary. She’s managed to get into the storage room, only to find it empty. She heads further in (again, how big is this place?), gets her foot tangled in some wires, and then notices the four other people in the room as she’s getting up. I’d say she has very selective perception of her surroundings, but there’s some explanation for this later. Some. However, there is no explanation for how the four other people in the room failed to notice the girl who just tripped into the room.
Plot Hole: 7
Anyway here’s how they’re described from Clary’s POV:
There was the girl in her long white dress, her black hair hanging down her back like damp seaweed. The two boys were with her – the tall one with black hair like hers, and the smaller, fair one, whose hair gleamed like brass in the dim light coming through the windows high above.
Weird Word Choice: 8
Hair like damp seaweed? Really?
I’d also like to point out the awkward pronoun. The tall guy’s hair is like which girl’s? Clary or Isabelle’s? (Answer: Isabelle. We later find out that Clary is a red-head.)
Clary, again acting like a YA Fantasy heroine rather than a real person, decides to hide behind another concrete support beam and watches the whole thing (seriously, how big is this room?), rather than either A) screaming/running for security or B) getting involved and possibly saving Blue-hair’s life.
Isabelle and her friends keep interrogating Blue-hair, asking if there are any more of “[his] kind” around. Clary thinks she’s stumbled into a gang war, and Blue-hair plays dumb. The dark-haired boy identifies Blue-hair as a demon, leading blond boy into a big info dump, as well as giving him a name.
“Demons,” drawled the blond boy, tracing the word on the air with his finger. “Religiously defined as hell’s denizens, the servants of Satan, but understood here, for purposes of the Clave, to be any malevolent spirit whose origin is outside our own home dimension—”
“That’s enough, Jace,” said the girl.
“Isabelle’s right,” agreed the taller boy. “Nobody here needs a lesson in semantics – or demonology.”
- First: CC, just because you hang a lampshade on it doesn’t make giving an As You Know speech acceptable.
- Second: We have yet another count – Rapier Twit. CC seems to be under the impression that Jace is somehow clever and witty. Judging by the things he says, this is blatantly false. Not that most people actually point this out.
Rapier Twit: 1
Jace then gives the name of the other guy, Alec, and says that both Alec and Isabelle think he talks too much. I have to agree.
Blue-hair offers to tell them where someone named Valentine is. Jace says that Valentine is dead, and Isabelle tells Jace he should just kill Blue-hair.
- First: Valentine is a really stupid name for a villain.
- Second: Isn’t Isabelle just charming? This guy isn’t being helpful, so we should just kill him. How nice.
Clary again demonstrates her supervision, as she notices Jace pull out a knife that’s “oddly translucent, the blade clear as crystal.” And CC apparently doesn’t know the difference between ‘transparent’ and ‘translucent’.
Weird Word Choice: 9
Blue-hair insists that Valentine is alive (I’m wondering if I should include a Dead Herring count), and Jace looses his shit.
Rage flared suddenly in Jace’s icy eyes. “By the Angel, every time we capture one of you bastards, you claim you know where Valentine is. Well, we know where he is too. He’s in hell. And you—” Jace turned the knife in his grasp, the edge sparking like a line of fire. “You can join him there.”
Yeah, Jace is clearly a psychopath. And spoiler he’s supposed to be the hero.
Clary, finally evolving a spine, decides to interfere. Everyone stares at her, with Alec even asking “What’s this?” To which Jace responds with this:
“It’s a girl,” Jace said, recovering his composure. “Surely you’ve seen girls before, Alec. Your sister Isabelle is one.”
Rapier Twit: 2
I think it’s time for my first spitefic.
Alec looked sidelong at Jace for a moment, and then slapped the back of the blond boy’s head. “I know that,” he said. “I was asking in the sense of ‘what’s going on’, you idiot.”
That felt good.
Jace continues to point out the obvious, namely that Clary is a ‘mundie’ girl (there’s that word again), and that she can see them. And now we get yet another count –- No Shit Sherlock. This is for any time a character figures out something that should be blatantly obvious to everyone, up to and including the reader.
No Shit Sherlock: 1
Clary, not being a complete idiot (at least, not yet), points out that, duh, of course she can see them. Jace makes a cryptic remark about her being blind, and tells her to leave. Clary refuses, because, you know, killing people is wrong, and Jace points out that, technically speaking, Blue-hair isn’t a “person”. Isabelle and Alec tell him to shut up, and I have to agree with them. They should really do something about Jace.
Clary says that they’re all crazy (enjoy her being sensible while it lasts), says she’s called the cops, and Blue-hair breaks free and starts attacking Jace.
Now, while I’m all for someone taking down the psycho, I have two issues with this: (Yes, I’m noticing my problems with this tend to come in pairs. I’m like Noah or something.)
- First: why didn’t Blue-hair do that sooner? Is he just that kinky? Because they were practically torturing him and he just sat there and took it.
- Second: remember that whole thing about Blue-hair sneaking a weapon into the club by disguising it as a two-by-four? That bit from the beginning of the chapter? Because apparently CC forgot all about that, since Blue-hair is attacking Jace with his bare hands. There’s no mention of him losing his sword, and there’s no mention of it being taken away, so why is he using his bare hands? Again, fandom roots.
Plot Hole: 8
Isabelle and Alec, not being complete idiots (at least, not yet), go to help their friend, Isabelle using her whip to hit Blue-hair’s back.
Hey, remember that other thing? About how Isabelle managed to trip up Blue-hair with that same whip? Why doesn’t she, say, wrap it around his neck and choke him into unconsciousness? She’s clearly demonstrated that she can do stuff like that. I suppose the argument could be made that, since he’s a demon, Blue-hair might not need to breathe, but the attempt could at least be made.
Plot Hole: 9
Anyway, Jace gets free and stabs Blue-hair, and like all first-level bosses, Blue-hair gets of a cryptic message before dying. “So be it. The Forsaken will take you all.”
Ooo, creepy. So they’ll either be attacked by a WoW faction or the bad guys from The Wheel of Time books. CC, I know that name sounds cool, but you could have picked something less generic.
Blue-hair, like all supernatural baddies in Urban Fantasies with a Masquerade in place, doesn’t leave a corpse, because dealing with the body would be problematic.
Alec goes to heal Jace, and Clary tries to sneak out only to be stopped by Isabelle. Isabelle calls Clary a “stupid mundie,” demonstrating nicely that, in this world, it’s not just the bad guys who are racist pricks, and blames Clary for Jace almost getting killed. Personally, I’d blame Alec, since he’s the one who decided to use piano wire instead of, say, chains to bind up Blue-hair, but I’m rational like that.
Clary again points out that Jace is crazy, and continues to claim that the cops are coming, and Jace, in a rare moment of rationality, points out that, what with there being no body, the cops will likely just write the whole thing off. And while this makes sense, it ignores the fact that there’re probably security cameras all around the club, so there’s likely to be some evidence of Blue-hair entering the storage room, not to mention the club. But this too will be seen as irrelevant in a minute.
Jace explains that, when they die, demons return to their home dimensions. Alec tells him to shut up (seriously, the guy just loves to exposit at any given opportunity), to which Mr. Exposition points out that, since Clary can see them, she already knows too much. Isabelle asks what they should do with her, and Jace’s brain has apparently gone back into hibernation mode, because he says they should let her go.
Alec and Isabelle are understandably not happy with this idea. Alec suggests they bring Clary back with them because someone named Hodge might be interested in her, but Isabelle shoots this idea down because, again, Clary is a “mundie.”
Jace’s brain briefly fires up again, because he’s the only one who thinks there might be something odd about Clary.
No Shit Sherlock: 2
Jace spouts off some cryptic remarks, including some Important Words. You can tell they’re important because they’re Capitalized.
Clary insists she doesn’t know anything, but even her brain has to acknowledge that clearly something is up here, and Simon bursts in with two of the bouncers.
Yay! Simon’s back! Please, bring an end to this horrible, horrible scene!
But of course, neither Simon nor the bouncers can see Jace, Alec, and Isabelle. Thus making that whole bit about the cops not caring about a murder without a body completely pointless, since they wouldn’t get caught anyway. You know what that means!
Plot Hole: 10
Now that I think about it, why did they even bother with Clary, since she’s the only one who apparently saw them? It’d just be her word and an almost complete lack of evidence. Once again, fandom roots.
Jace gives Clary a “half-apologetic, half-mocking shrug.”
Weird Word Choice: 10
How do you do that? And considering what we’ve seen of Jace’s character thus far, and what we’ll see of it later, I think it’s all mocking.
Clary, realizing how crazy her story sounds, pretends she didn’t see anything and apologizes for causing any trouble. The bouncers don’t seem too happy, but hey, what do you expect? And Isabelle, just to emphasize that she’s kind of a bitch, laughs at them.
Flash forward to around midnight, with Clary and Simon trying to get a cab and having no luck. Simon brings up the whole ‘Clary saw some guys with a knife’ thing. Clary claims she might have imagined the whole thing, but Simon, being her friend, doesn’t believe that. He comments that, what with her causing a security scare, they’ll probably be banned from Pandemonium, but Clary counters that Simon doesn’t even like the place. I don’t blame him.
They finally get a cab, and Simon tells the driver to take them to Brooklyn. Now, given that it’s midnight on a Sunday, and that Brooklyn takes up about 71 square miles of Long Island, I’d think the driver would want an actual address, rather than a vague mention of their destination
Clary gets in the cab, and the chapter ends.
I’ll see you all next time, for Chapter 2: Secrets and Lies.
Weird Word Choice: 10
Rapier Twit: 2
No Shit Sherlock: 2
Plot Hole: 10