I began City of Bones with soaring expectations. As the book I'm writing would likely be classified as young adult fiction, I felt it important to scope out the playing field; what has worked, what hasn't, what young readers are drawn to currently.
In visiting three independent book stores and asking for the most popular YA books - I was led each time to Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series.
One young shop assistant could barely contain her excitement as she pointed them out to me, raving about her love of the books with a form of 'fangirl' excitement I recall (unfortunately) displaying over Bieber back in the day.
What it showed was a giddiness and investment in the story that I would aim to evoke by my own.
So I took her advice (partially afraid not to after such an excessively adoring review), and I read City of Bones.
Cassandra Clare's characters were, overall, well-constructed. Jayce was particularly captivating, and brought out the fangirl in me.
After rooting for Clary and Jayce for the entire novel, only to reach the end and find out that THEY WERE RELATED ... I lost motivation to continue. It was a cheap shot.
I wasn't sure if I loved the plot enough to read more, so I did a quick google (I don't ordinarily spoil plots like this, but I was faced with a grave injustice so leave your judgment at the door please and thanks) and I found out that they are in fact - not related. All that torment for nothing. It seems the facts here continue to ebb and flow throughout the series, which I don't particularly feel I have time for.
Cassandra utilised mythical creatures and supernatural folklore for the basis of her world. The details were fine-tuned in an original sense, but assisted greatly by the intricate imaginations of others. To me, whilst the characters were strong, the world she created lacked uniqueness.
There are fairies? Vampires? Demons? Werewolves? Well of course! They all exist! It's all true! (Seems like a bit of a cop out). However, I acknowledge that most content nowadays is appropriated from other pieces.
City of Bones was engaging, and I read it consistently. I can see why it's a best-seller. But I can also see that there's hope for the rest of us looking to have our stories published in this genre.
Young-adult fiction is in need of a new phenomenon. A concept that will shake things up. The age of vampires, whilst still fascinating, has been addressed from every angle imaginable; Vampire Diaries, Mortal Instruments, Twilight, etc. There's little room for more widespread success under many of these umbrellas.
But what we do have is an audience of readers clawing back for more, regardless of ageing ideas. Give them something fresh and riveting, and it might just send them into a frenzy.
It's time for something new. So let's get cracking.