City of Bones
by Cassandra Clare ****
About the book:
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much les a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Clary knows she should call the police, but it’s hard to explain a murder when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary.
Equally startled by her ability to see them, the murderers explain themselves as Shadowhunters: a secret tribe of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. Within twenty-four hours, Clary’s mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque demon.
But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…
About the author:
Cassandra Clare was born to American parents in Teheran, Iran and spent much of her childhood traveling the world with her family, including one trek through the Himalayas as a toddler where she spent a month living in her father’s backpack. She lived in France, England and Switzerland before she was ten years old. Since her family moved around so much she found familiarity in books and went everywhere with a book under her arm. After writing for magazines and tabloids she devoted herself to writing fantasy fiction full time in 2006.
- Describe the scene at Pandemonium that lures Clary into a world she cannot imagine. Would you have followed them into the closet?
- Luke tells Clary, “…you’re an artist, like your mother. That means you see the world in ways that other people don’t. It’s your gift to see the beauty and the horror in ordinary things.” (p. 23) Is this the definition of artist? Is this a lie by Luke?
- What happens when Clary leaves the poetry reading? Why do you think her mom doesn’t want her to come home now? What does Clary learn from Jace? Would you have a difficult time believing this other world exists?
- What greets Clary at her Brooklyn apartment? What are the rules and limitations of this other world that Clary has stumbled into? How is Clary special from most mundanes? List all the facts Clary learns as she becomes embedded in this alternative world.
- What is the Institute? Who belongs there? What is their mission? If you could create a “glamour” what would you create and where?
- Who is Dorothea? Why did Clary’s mom probably decide to live near her? Describe her apartment. Do you believe in any of her arts and skills? How does she help Clary and Jace on their quest? In the end, what happens to Dorothea?
- Does Luke truly betray Clary and her mother? How has he been a part of Clary’s life until now? Do you have a person in your life like Luke is a part of Clary’s? What is his secret?
- Hodge, Valentine and even Clary’s mom were part of The Circle. What was its mission? Why is it difficult for Clary to accept this information about her mother? Does this group remind you of anything from modern history?
- Is Valentine a particularly good nemesis? How is his evil character revealed to the reader? How does he almost win the affections of Jace? What terrible thing does Clary learn about Jace and herself?
- Would you allow the Silent Brothers access to your own mind and memory for any reason? Why has there been a block put on Clary’s mind? Who is responsible for it? Why do you think her mother decided to make this decision? Was it fair? Wise?
- Discuss Clary’s relationship with Simon and Jace. How does Simon surprise Clary over the course of the novel? What does she discover about Jace that makes their relationship revolting in some sense? How does Clary show her commitment to both?
- “Every teenager in the world feels like that, feels broken or out of place, different somehow, royalty mistakenly born into a family of peasants. “ (p.213) Do you agree? Why do you think this feeling of isolation is part of transforming into an adult? How can it be borne?
- What was the “situation” at the Hotel DuMort? What was your favorite part of the Vampire/Werewolf battle? Why was Clary willing to go into the lair of the vampires anyway? How do they escape?
- How is the theme of unrequited love explored in the novel? Whose feelings are not reciprocated? What does it reveal about the characters? Do you think this is a common state for teenagers to face? Why? Why are some people so unaware of how others feel about them?
- What is the mortal cup? How does Clary realize where it is located? What happens when the team tries to retrieve it? Describe the battle that ensues.
- Who betrayed Jace and the others at the Institute? Why was he willing to do so? What happened when he escaped? Who saves Clary from his brutality? Did this expect this character to reappear or was it a surprise? What details make sense with this knowledge?
- How does Luke fill in the missing gaps of Clary’s past? Would you have forgiven him for it?
- In the end how does Jace realize that Clary was telling the truth about Valentine? How will they retrieve the cut? What price have they all paid for the truth?
- How do you think Clary’s relationship with her brother and her friend, Simon, will change after the events of the novel? Who do you think changed the most over the course of the story?
- Do you think Clary would’ve been a happier person if the Shadow World and her own mundane Brooklyn had never collided? Is the power and insight she gains worth the pain and loss she must suffer to have it?
Like Clary, try to express yourself through pictures instead of words. Keep an artist’s journal for one week and try to see both “the beauty and horror of ordinary things.” Discuss with a friend.
Create your own playlist for reading the novel or check out the one Cassie Clare created while she worked. Discuss why you chose the music for the scenes that you did.
Create a timeline of the history that Clary must learn about the Shadow world and its inhabitants.
***This guide was created by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, a reading specialist and author. Visit her website to find hundreds of guides to children’s and YA lit.