Quick Read: City of Bones ch. 4

city_of_bones

Chapter 4: Ravener

“Ravener” sounds like the name of an evil Jedi from the Star Wars Expanded Universe. His full name would be Ravener Maim or Lord Eville Ravener or something stupid like that, and you’d look at it and wonder why anyone wastes their life on this shit.

But anyway, in this chapter of City of Bones Clary runs back home to find out what happened to her mom.

The night had gotten even hotter, and running home felt like swimming as fast as she could through boiling soup.

This is a decent simile, but none of the previous narration indicated that it was super hot out, so it feels sort of out of place.

She tried to call home again, but Jace hadn’t been lying; his phone wasn’t a phone. At least, it didn’t look like any phone Clary had ever seen before. The Sensor’s buttons didn’t have numbers on them, just more of those bizarre symbols, and there was no screen.

The idea of this thing is cracking me up for reasons I can’t explain. It doesn’t help that the Shadowhunters wiki image makes it look like an oversized car door opener.

Jogging up the street toward her house, she saw that the second-floor windows were lit, the usual sign that her mother was home.

…yes, if people live in a place then the lights are usually on at night. Why is that particular to Clary’s mom?

Clary’s sense that something was wrong only increased when she reached the apartment door. It was unlocked, hanging slightly open, spilling a wedge-shaped shaft of light onto the landing.

The wording on this is really strange. “Hanging slightly open” makes it sound like the door is hanging partially off its hinges, but if so then the situation should really have gone from “I think something is wrong” to “holy shit time to panic.”

Clary finds the apartment completely ransacked, and empty apart from this thing:

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.

Definitely time to panic.

A flat, tension-free struggle ensues, in which Clary shrieks and runs around while the demon thing babbles nonsense at her.

The Sensor was shuddering, like a cell phone set to vibrate.

PFFFFFT

“Valentine will never know. He said nothing about a girl. Valentine will not be angry.”

Hey it’s that Valentine guy the demon from the first chapter tried to tell Jace and his buddies about. Maybe they should have listened, instead of acting like huge jackasses.

Clary accidentally throws the Sensor into the monster’s mouth, which kills it mysteriously, as though it’s some sort of magical object instead of a car dongley thing. Let us mourn the passing of the Sensor, which provided us with so many lulz.

An object slammed heavily into the back of her skull, and she collapsed forward into blackness.

The ol’ fainting transition, for when you don’t want to bother connecting two separate scenes. Incidentally, we never learn what this “object” was, which makes me assume that someone threw a toaster or a bowling ball or something out the window, and it just happened to hit Clary.

The night sky rippled overhead, the pewter gleam of stars washed out by city lights.

I straight up don’t get what this is talking about. The night sky “rippled”? What?

Jace has arrived on the scene, and he tells Clary that she’s been stung by the Ravener demon and needs to be brought to the Institute stat in order to avoid coming down with a severe case of death.

“There’s Ravener poison coursing through your veins right now. You’ll be dead in an hour if you don’t come with me.” He got to his feet and held out a hand to her. She took it and he pulled her upright. “Come on.”

The world tilted. Jace slid a hand across her back, holding her steady. He smelled of dirt, blood, and metal. “Can you walk?”

When Jace isn’t quipping or acting like an asshole for no reason, I can actually buy him as a pretty good romantic lead. He has that whole bad-boy thing going on, but the way he automatically jumps to help and protect Clary, without being a condescending ass about it, is nice.

He slid the thing Clary had thought was a knife back into his belt. It was a long, luminous cylinder, as thick around as an index finger and tapering to a point. “My stele,” he said.

Man, I forgot about these things. I’m not sure how Clare originally envisioned them, but in both the movie and the TV series they look like pen-lights with really cheap plastic bits sticking out the end (I think the show is actually using the exact same prop for Jace’s stele, oddly enough).

If you’ll allow me to go off on a very brief and nerdy tangent: what is with Valentine’s one looking all evil? Did he decide to customize it to make it look super sinister (it’s got a skull on the end), or did someone just make it like that, and by sheer coincidence he happened to turn evil?

This gets even worse when you consider Voldemort’s wand (because let’s be real, these things are just wands), which in the movies is all bone-like and evil. British wizards in the Harry Potter-verse get their wands at the age of eleven; did what’s-his-face the wandmaker dude have one really evil-looking wand lying around that he decided to give to some random kid? Or, again, did Voldemort decide to make it look scarier after the fact for the lulz? Both possibilities seem really stupid.

Anyway, Clary faints yet again in a textbook example of the difficult and precarious Double Chapter Fainting Transition Technique, and that brings us to the end of our Quick Read.

But before we leave, here’s a totally random comparison, presented entirely without comment:

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8 thoughts on “Quick Read: City of Bones ch. 4

      1. Signatus

        May I ask why you think that would be a problem? I’m genuinely intrigued. I mean, I (personally) don’t see anything wrong in reusing ideas or even full on plotlines from old fanfiction, as long as the story is original enough to stand by itself without having to go back to the original source. Wands are not like Muggles or Digivices (from Digimon), they are public domain and so are sorcerers, mages, wizards, etc. To be honest, and I haven’t read the book, but the only detail that made me think of Harry Potter (so far) have been the wands. I think she should have done away with them completely, or used a more rudimentary demon killing tool (daggers, swords, rituals, religious symbols… she could have used them to channel magic too if that was her idea). But using them as what they really are (wands) shouldn’t have been a problem (I think).

        Reply
        1. Nerem

          I don’t think he’s saying that them being called wands would make it a ripoff in and of itself, but instead that the reason why they were changed is that the author thought it would.

          Reply
        2. A. Noyd

          I’m a “she,” but pretty much what Nerem said. The more Clare could change, however superficial, the more she could pretend her world is original. Which is something your publisher generally wants if they’re going to try to make money off a former fanfic, whether or not certain elements are technically public domain. (Though for all I know, they were “stele” in the fanfic, too. Just means the weak attempt at “originality” happened earlier.)

          Reply
  1. Lynx

    If you were what’s-her-face’s editor, what would you change? Just, cross out the entire thing in red?

    I’m trying to figure out why so many urban fantasy authors need the entire kitchen sink. Makes all the settings feel interchangeable…

    Reply
    1. Nerem

      Because it’s easier, I think. You get everything you want and you can just say its because all myths are true (though Christianity is almost always Truer, see Dresden Files.). The reason why they seem so samey is most of them are set in America and mostly focus on generic American mythologies.

      My Urban Fantasy setting ended up being ‘modern day except magical things lurk in the shadows, barely suppressed by the government’ and there’s a general sort of low-level awareness of them, but people choose to believe they’ve been ‘dealt with’ or will be, so police have been developing high-tech weapons and armor to deal with the threats with the help of friendly magical beings.

      Reply

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