The Mortal Instruments City of Bones: Review

Looking better in black than the widows of our enemies…

So this Wednesday Crissy & I skipped out of work early (because: priorities!), donned our Shadowhunter gear (despite it being broiling hot — we needed some kind of cooling rune), and runed up to see the long-awaited The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
And what did I think? Well, fantasy adaptation wise, it wasn’t the golden standard of Harry Potter (or at least that’s my golden standard), but it was a solid beginning for the series.

{Minor spoilers ahead!}

Some things that I thought were awesome:

  • Top marks to Lily Collins and Clary and Robert Sheehan as Simon — brava! They just nailed it. Most of the acting was good, in fact, with one notable exception (but we’ll save that for the next list). And I think Jamie Campbell Bower really proved to us Jace is less about the abs and more about the attitude (though he had the abs too!).
  • Everything looked fantastic: the sets (Toronto, you are a sexy Brooklyn), the costumes (although I would have liked to see some hilarious Simon tees), the special effects (that Ravener demon was soooo gross, and also pretty scary!)
  • Pacing: things moved along nicely and the movie covered a lot of ground without ever seeming rushed or too slow.
  • Getting to see Joceyln be all bad-ass Shadowhunter at the beginning was wonderful, since that’s not something we get to see in the book — it’s great to see the amazing Lena Headey let loose before she has to make like Sleeping Beauty for the rest of the film.
  • I loved that Valentine’s demons took the form of ravens — such a clever connection to Huginn and Muninn.
  • Fun fight scenes: loved Isabelle with that flame-spurting pack, especially.

Some things that were not-so-awesome:

  • Godfrey Gao as Magnus: while he did look the part (so handsome!), his delivery was sadly lacking. It was heartbreaking to see the most magnetic character of the series seem so wooden — Magnus’s real magic is how he can charm a room.
  • The script, at points, could have been better. The scene when Jace switches loyalties seemed abrupt (even more abrupt than in the book), as did Clary’s  realization Alec loved Jace, and the ending seemed like they were trying to mash all the important stuff from the end of the book together at the expense of natural interaction between Clary and Jace.
  • Exception to special effects excellence: schmaltzy fake fireflies and plants blooming in the greenhouse. Between that and the booming love anthem, things were getting pretty Disney-fied in there. I mean, it’s the greenhouse scene — it’s romantic enough on its own!
  • The silly floating portal bubbles. Unnecessary.

Some of the adaptation choices were interesting and made sense (sure, Simon doesn’t need to become a rat) although others were less successful (I missed the Renwick smallpox hospital — which was a better place for Jocelyn — and Alaric sacrificing himself for Luke), and some I found really troubling (Clary being an instant rune savant, and then using her powers to bibbity-bobbity-boo her trashed apartment? That totally trivializes her power and is one of those things that could be the easy answer to any future sticky situation, whether its a Valentine showdown or cold food at Taki’s).

So do I hope that we end up with more Mortal movies? By the Angel I do. There’s a great foundation here and it was super fun to have the Sight and see the Shadow World come to life in a whole new way. But I also think there’s room for these movies to be even better — I can’t wait to go to the next opening day.


Visiting London & thinking about the Infernal Devices

I’ve become somewhat of a TV/book tourist in the years since I started writing with Jen as Liv Spencer, and my own books as Calhoun. New York for Gossip Girl. Covington “Mystic Falls” Georgia for The Vampire Diaries. Iceland for Game of Thrones. (Just kidding on that last one — though admittedly the thought of casually running into Jon Snow did cross my mind….)

I was in London this past week for the London Book Fair — a big to-do where publishers from all around the world convene, show off their upcoming books, chat them up and try to sell them into other territories and languages. It’s very cool to see all the various things people are doing, in the book dept, around the world, and to meet with like-minded folks from halfway across the world. It’s also cool to be walking through the stands at Earls Court and see some Shadowhunters. The movie edition of City of Bones got some nice play at the S&S booth, but it was this poster that stunned me when I walked around the corner and suddenly had the Sight:


(Sorry — didn’t realize how soft the focus was on this until I pulled it off my iPhone. Seems like my Sight is not so crystal clear after all!)

After the fair, I tooled around with my darling friend who’s lived in LDN for the past 10 years, and she took me to the oldest bookshop in London. The bookshop where a certain young Shadowhunter once upon a time bought a copy of A Tale of Two Cities for one Tessa Gray.


Hatchards Piccadilly is a big big store with beautiful staircases up and down, now operated by Waterstones and all fancy like with its By Appointment to Various Royal Persons, operating since 1797. I went up to the Dickens section and picked up a copy of Two Cities, but already owning two copies of it myself I didn’t entirely recreate the Will Herondale moment. Instead I opted for a stunning copy of Dante’s Inferno. So as to be well-read and ready to talk circles of hell and their various temperatures during a daring rescue by a Shadowhunter.

Dante frontDante back

And the full haul of books from my trip. Not too many this time!

And the full haul of books from my trip. Not too many this time!

So many moments from the Infernal Devices to be reminded of while walking around Central London — prime among them having a good look at Blackfriars Bridge and imagining Jem and Tessa on it.

It was perfect timing too: Jen and I are just finishing up the proofread on Navigating the Shadow World, it hits stores and e-shelves on July 1st, and we’re working away on a special free e-book companion reader to the book — more on that soon! — and Clockwork Princess was still fresh in mind. Very cool to walk the streets the Enclave crew would’ve over a century ago. Literary tourism is the best!