Film vs Novel – The Mortal Instruments City of Bones… a review by Casey Carlisle

Action and adventure… with just about any supernatural being you can think of thrown in the mix!



Excuse me while I have a fangirl moment, but the absolute first thing I must make you aware of is that I looove the Shadowhunter universe Cassandra Clare has created, and am thankful there are so many volumes in which to indulge. Having said that, comparing the film adaptation to the book is always going to be a futile exercise. Only because you can explore so much more in a novel than in the time limit acceptable for a film. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the big screen version just as much.

City of Bones,‘ the novel, set up the characters really well and the reveals throughout the plot were well timed. I felt the movie left a lot of this out. And consequently I did not feel the love for the characters of Clary and Jace as I did in  the book. I’m not sure if it was casting, script, or the omission of so much build up that the two leads felt a little wishy-washy. Lily Colins did a commendable job, but her representation lacked that righteousness that was the core motivation for Clary in the novel. She was always standing up for the downtrodden, fighting for justice – and she did so vehemently. And sorry, I just didn’t get that from the Lily. The same with Jace – in the book he was extremely handsome, muscular like an athlete, and possessed a lazy gracefulness which juxtaposed his overconfidence and cockiness bordering on insult. With Jamie Campbell in the role, Jace felt practically emo and brooding, losing all appeal for me. In fact, I cringed every time he appeared on the screen. Summing up their chemistry together, as you can guess, was like drinking lukewarm tea and failed to deliver on my expectations. The romance in the film failed to build to that intense attraction it had in the books and felt rushed. I really think if I had not read the book I would have barely rated the movie on it’s own merits for their relationship.

The first evidence Clary sees of the Shadowhunter world, with the slaying of a demon in a nightclub in the book was intense and messy. Clary screaming and calling a scene to shut the place down. It is how Clary conducts herself in the whole series. Rushing in headfirst. That did not happen in the movie. It was more like a cookie-cutter B-grade horror movie scene. Cue actress standing in the wings staring and screaming in horror while everyone else looked on in confusion.

My favourite character from the books is Simon, and even though all the appearances he made in the movie version (played expertly by Robert Sheehan) are relevant to the plot, he felt almost invisible. At the films end I struggled to remember him as prominently as I had upon finishing the novel. With such an excellent actor interpreting Simon’s journey, I suspect that we are only going to get more and more throughout this franchise.

The overall plot of the book(s) gave me a sense of deja vu for some reason – like I had read it all before, and I still can’t put my finger on as to why. But no matter the reason, I loved the book by completing the last page. The plot in the film adaptation worked really well (if a little rushed). Given that it was not solely Clary’s POV, scope and pace held my attention throughout the whole movie, much like a rollercoaster ride. You definitely won’t get bored.

All of the special effects in the movie were incredible, and I have to applaud the post production team for some truly boggling work. I can’t wait to see what tricks they pull out of the hat for the next installments.

Overall, I’d recommend to go see the movie, if you are a fan of the books or not. It’s an adventurous fantasy world to lose yourself in. I’m hoping like’ The Hunger Games’ franchise, where the second film was much better than the first, ‘City of Ashes’ (the second installment of The Mortal Instruments series) turns out to be much more satisfying.

Adore the book – The film: immensely enjoyable, but not amazing!




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