City of Bones
by Cassandra Clare
There was a show on one of the cable networks last spring called Political Animals. It starred Sigourney Weaver. One day, I heard her being interviewed on the radio about the show, among other things. The interviewer, Terry Gross of Fresh Air I think, pointed out that Ms. Weaver has never played the traditional role of "the damsel in distress." She replied, "I guess that is because I have never met one. All of the women with whom I am acquainted get the job done and are not looking to men for a solution." I loved this line and think of it every time I read a novel in which the heroine is always being rescued by her appointed white knight.
Clary, the protagonist in Cassandra Clare's City of Bones seems to find herself in just such a situation. In her case there are two young men vying for the job. However, I get the distinct impression that Clary is a girl who can look after herself; the boys keep getting in the way. This does make for some interesting interpersonal situations, but did distract from the story for me- But not my 7th and 8th graders.They love this book! As a matter a fact they devoured this 400 page book and came back for more. Cassandra Clare wrote them a trilogy and they are gobbling it up. The next books are City of Ash and City of Glass. And, I believe there is a series of prequels available as well.
These books are all fantasy. They are set in current times and places, except for one small country that can only be accessed by those with the sight. Every fantastic creature, from werewolves to sprites, has a role. The story has plenty of action, a little romance, and complicated family dynamics. The good guys are hard to spot, but the bad guys are very bad. I guess this is why it appeals to the middle schooler. Unless you are just a fan of the genre, you may want to skip this book, but it is a must read for the 11-14 year-olds in your household. (I find that the boys love it as much as the girls!)