City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (book, movie, TV show)

*If you haven’t read at least the first book in The Mortal Instruments series, then this review will contain spoilers.*


I love when people take on the giant task of adapting a novel for the screen. There have been some successful adaptations over the years and some flops, but in the end it all comes down to you. Are you able to let go of how you see the book in your head? If not, you’ll never enjoy a film or show adaptation. If you prefer your own version, there’s nothing wrong with that! Sometimes it’s hard to let go.

I decided to re-read City of Bones by Cassandra Clare because the TV show Shadowhunters premiered last week and now that I’ve had time to digest it, I’m ready to talk about it. When I finished reading it earlier this month, I immediately rented the film on iTunes and watched it. So for this week’s review I’m doing something a little different: reviewing a book, movie, and TV pilot all in one!

City of Bones novel – 

I’ll be straight with you…this is the third time I’ve read this book. But I read so often, that I forget details from books after a while. This time around, I actually like Alec a lot more. Maybe it’s because I’m older on this read, but I just felt like he was much more relatable than I thought – everyone has secrets, and he struggles with keeping one from his best friend.

I think the role of religion in the Shadowhunter world is really interesting. They don’t have any kind of established religion, yet their history says they exist because of the acts of an angel. Their whole existence is because of an ethereal being, they hunt demons on a daily basis, and they don’t believe in God? If they do, it’s not mentioned in the first book. I love how other religions help aid them in the fight against demons, keeping them stocked on holy water and letting them store weapons on their hallowed ground.

The ending still sucks. You’re left wondering about the whole sibling thing (because something just isn’t clicking there) and they’re riding off into the sunset on a demon bike to see their mother who’s in a coma? WHAT? In the end, I give this book a 4.25/5 stars just out of entertainment value and pacing.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie –

Magnus was a total let down. He’s one of my favorite characters from the series as a whole, so I had high expectations for him. The actor LOOKED like Magnus, but his acting was just meh. Alec was misunderstood. As in, either I misunderstood him when I read the book, or the director misunderstood him. He was kind of a creep in the movie, lacking all softness and strength of character.And Valentine…oh, Valentine. In the book, he reminded me of a politician – alluring, strong, interesting, and charming. When he speaks, you listen – that type. In the movie, he’s a weird, erratic, braided-hair pirate looking guy. That was a total miss.

I DID like Isabelle’s casting. I thought she harnessed her strength and sass, quickly getting past the pretty face and into the spunk. I thought Simon was great and Luke was pretty good. However, I thought the way the werewolves were used as cannon fodder was crappy. In the book, they were brave and bold, fighting their way past the Forsaken, but in the movie they don’t even turn into full wolves and get picked off by demons until suddenly only a few were left.

I understand that some things from the book had to be cut out, and I’m okay with it. The book is really long, so they had to decide what wasn’t vital to the plot and knock it out. However, what they chose to leave left the flow of the movie being really jarring. Clary was suddenly super accepting of all these changes, understanding the Shadow World and her own abilities in record time. The book focuses on world building, leaving character growth on the back burner. The movie, though, focuses on action scenes, leaving world building hanging. If I hadn’t read the books, there would have been multiple things I didn’t understand at ALL.

In the end, I was mostly entertained. I got bored about halfway through, but it picked back up. At this point, I enjoyed the book a bit more. I highly recommend that you read the first THREE books in the series before watching the movie because they have some spoilers.

Shadowhunters TV show on the channel Freeform (formerly ABC Family):

Surprisingly, I’m really excited about the direction this show is taking. It definitely is more of an “inspired by” than a direct adaptation of the book, but I find it refreshing. One thing they changed is how Clary’s mom gets taken in the beginning. I actually prefer the show version because we get to see her kick butt Shadowhunter moves! You go, Jocelyn!

Casting in general is great. Alec? Perfect. He’s broody and sexy and layered, just like I like him. Isabelle? YES. Magnus? Not sure yet. He looks the part, but he didn’t get much screen time in the pilot…so I’m not sure about him just yet. Clary and Jace are good. Not 100% sold on them at this current moment, but I’m open. Simon is right and Luke is great. I’m good on all these choices!

The only thing I’m not sold on is the Institute. It’s in an old church, yes, but there are a bunch of people milling around inside and it’s all modern and technified. (I know that’s not a real word.) It’s supposed to be empty and bare…we’ll see where they go with that.

In the end, I have high hopes for the show. I’m curious to see if they start picking and choosing from later books, add original story arcs, or if they stay parallel-ish to the book.

Have you read the book, seen the movie, or watched the show? What do you think about book adaptations?

Happy reading and watching! – Caitlyn


8 thoughts on “City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (book, movie, TV show)

  1. I agree the movie was a let down. Magnus is my favorite character too (loved The Bane Chronicles) I want to start watching the show but have yet to see it. I heard in another review about the institute thing- that is weird. But I’m excited to see how the TV show goes.

    Liked by 2 people

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