February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

‘City of Bones’ and More Kick-Butt Monster-Hunting Adventures

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City of BonesAdapted from the first book of Cassandra Clare’s wildly popular YA fantasy series opener (S & S/McElderry, 2007), The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (PG-13) bursts into theaters on August 21, 2013.

Lily Collins stars as Clary Fray, an ostensibly ordinary teenager living in modern-day New York City, where suddenly, strange things begin to happen. When her mother (Lena Headey) disappears, Clary falls in with a group of young Shadowhunters, weapon-wielding, rune-wearing warriors led by the magnetic Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower). Half-angel and half-human, Shadowhunters possess the strength and abilities necessary to protect humans in an age-old war against evil. Suddenly, Clary’s eyes are opened not only to an alternate world filled with demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves, and more, but also to her own family legacy: she is descended from an ancient line of Shadowhunters. To save her mother, Clary must quickly learn the ropes of this deadly new reality, tap into her inner fortitude and untried talents, and confront startling truths about her past.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers takes on the role of charismatic antagonist, Valentine Morgenstern; Robert Sheehan plays Simon Lewis, Clary’s “mundie” (ordinary human) best friend and would-be love interest; and her demon-slaying posse includes Jemima West and Kevin Zegers as Isabelle and Alec Lightwood. Teens can visit the movie’s official website for a video trailer, character (and species) profiles, quizzes, and more.

Movie Tie-ins

Mortal Instruments movie companionMovie viewers will clamor to read or revisit the original work, and perhaps explore the rest of the “Mortal Instruments” sequence and its spin-offs (the “Shadowhunters” website has the scoop on Clare’s deftly imagined world and various book series). City of Bones has been reissued with a movie-inspired cover: a realistic New York City skyline mirrored by a watery gothic-gray reflection subtly overlaid with Shadowhunter symbols. Written in a lively conversational tone, Mimi O’Connor’s The Official Illustrated Movie Companion provides a look at the project, from the novel’s inspiration and enthusiastic reception, to casting, locations and props, costumes and makeup, and filming. Longtime book aficionados will appreciate commentary from Clare, who was very much involved in the filmmaking process. Shadow Hunters GuideInterviews with cast and crew, interesting insider tidbits, and fun details (the creation of durable rubber claws for fight scenes…no vampire wants to lose a fingernail) are presented along with copious full-color photos (on-set candid shots, movie stills, and sizzling portraits). Also packed with slick movie images and tantalizing character quotes, Shadowhunter’s Guide (all S & S/McElderry, 2013; Gr 8 Up) provides a brief plot summary, personnel profiles, and quick glimpses at important locales. A helpful guide to the runes with which the warriors adorn their bodies clarifies each symbol’s purpose (e.g., strength or agility), and cool close-ups of weapons are also included.

Demon Destroyers, Monster Mashers, and More

Whether the protagonists are hunting hellhounds or felling fiends, the following books feature unforgettable characters, electrifying action, and a touch of romance. Modern-day settings, plenty of teen angst, and relevant coming-of-age themes make the stories compelling and prove that navigating the complexities of high school hallways, relationships, and growing up can be just as daunting as facing off against the most ghastly supernatural creatures.

Every Other DayLike Clary, 16-year-old Kali D’Angelo, is a hands-on heroine…at least she is Every Other Day (Egmont USA, 2012; Gr 7 Up), when she somehow transforms from normal teenager to something…“Other”—an invincible huntress with a thirst for slaying basilisks, zombies, and all manner of monsters (in Kali’s alternate world, 37 species of preternatural fauna have been identified since Charles Darwin first unearthed the Galápagos hydra). It’s not surprising that she feels alienated from the high school crowd. When she notices a mark on the back of a popular girl at school, she knows that Bethany has been infected by a chupacabra and will be dead within hours. Though it’s Kali’s “off” day (and though she doesn’t particularly like the stuck-up cheerleader), she resolves to lure the critter into her own body, but will she survive long enough to transform and self-heal? So begins an intricately plotted adventure that soon has longtime loner Kali forging unlikely friendships, crushing on a mysterious boy with whom she can suddenly communicate telepathically, and unraveling deeply buried secrets about her family and her own past…all while taking on the occasional man-eating dragon. Narrated with delightful nonchalance and entertaining sarcasm by the no-nonsense protagonist, Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s multifaceted novel is fast-reading and fun.

School SpiritsDescended from a centuries-old line of monster-hunting Bannicks, 15-year-old Izzy’s career choice is a no-brainer, if only she can get used to working alone (her sister has mysteriously vanished) and convince her mother to give her some independence. A haunting at a high school in small town Mississippi seems the perfect opportunity to prove herself, and Izzy goes undercover as a new student (though the prospect of trying to fit in seems downright scary to a girl who has been homeschooled on the fly, has a basic black warrior’s wardrobe, and is innocent to the ways of teens). Soldiering on, she begins to gather intel about the ghost, but soon finds herself focusing more on friendships and a twinkle-eyed boy than on getting the job done. Before long, she is in over her head, both emotionally and professionally, and as the ghost grows more violent, she must make some tough choices, or the results will be deadly. Peopled with likable and refreshingly unique characters (including an advice- and quip-dispensing warlock who has been trapped in a mirror for over 400 years, and a love interest who has asthma and a penchant for pin-striped pants), Rachel Hawkins’s School Spirits (Hyperion, 2013; Gr 7-10) strikes the perfect balance of humor, relationship woes, and eerie action. The thrilling—and unexpected—climax will leave readers wanting more.

DemonosityIn Amanda Ashby’s Demonosity (Speak, 2013; Gr 7-10), quirky, kindhearted, and incredibly indecisive Cassidy is dumbfounded to discover that she has been appointed protectress of the Black Rose—an ancient force that affords immortality and unlimited power to whomsoever can harness it—now hidden away inside virginal human vessel (Cass’s vapid schoolmate). Harangued by the spirit of a 14th-century knight, the taciturn and hunky Thomas de la Croix, Cassidy’s days are suddenly consumed by early morning sword-fighting training, slaying nasty demons at parties and the mall, and trying to guard-dog Celeste without anyone noticing. How will she find time for the new swoon-worthy guy at school with whom she has been exchanging smoldering eye-locks? As mysteries unfold and secrets are revealed, Cassidy realizes that she must determine the fate of the Black Rose, an awesome decision that will not only affect her personally (her father has fallen gravely ill), but may also impact the balance of good and evil. Ashby’s frothy romp percolates with lighthearted humor and droll dialogue, while an involving plot and themes exploring friendship and self-reliance add satisfying substance.

Demon CatchersRather than wielding swords or magical powers, the heroes in Kat Beyer’s novel take on their otherworldly enemies with books, silver bells, and candles. All hope seems lost when 16-year-old Mia is possessed by a formidable demon, until two long-lost cousins arrive from Italy—stolid Giuliano Della Torre and his gorgeous grandson Emilio—and perform a successful exorcism. Afterward, The Demon Catchers of Milan (Egmont USA, 2012; Gr 8 Up) insist on taking Mia home with them to better protect her. In Milan, she finds herself steeped in local history and culture, a parade of delectable foods, and the stifling good intentions of a large extended family. As she learns more about the Della Torre’s demon-hunting legacy, she becomes determined to follow in their footsteps, no matter the danger. Featuring a lushly described setting, multi-dimensional characters, and touches of romance, this beautifully written book is as much an exploration of Mia’s personal growth and burgeoning self-confidence as a supernatural adventure.

RampantIn Diana Peterfreund’s Rampant (2009; Gr 9 Up), unicorns are blood-thirsty killers that can only be slain by virgins descended from Alexander the Great and trained in the ways of the warrior. More interested in science than sword-swinging, Astrid Llewelyn, 16, reluctantly travels to Rome, Italy, to master these ancient arts and embrace her heritage as unicorn hunter. However, ferocious beasts lurk everywhere, and doubts about her vocation—and distractingly cute guys—may derail her efforts. The breathless action, philosophical quandaries, and well-wrought character development continue in Ascendant (2010, both HarperTeen).

Tera Lynn Childs’s Sweet Venom (2011; Gr 7 Up) is set across the ocean, in a San Francisco teeming with mythological creatures invisible to humans but nonetheless deadly. Luckily, the teenage descendants of a much-maligned Medusa—not a monster herself but the original monster huntress—Sweet Venompossess the ability to dispatch these horrific hellions with one bite from their drop-down venom-dispensing fangs. Separated at birth and recently reunited, the triplets—tough-as-nails Gretchen, insecure and eco-conscious Grace, and popular and privileged Greer—must band together and embrace their destinies to save humankind from an onslaught of beasties. Filled with surprises, self-discoveries, and hot crushes, this tale ends with a cliff-hanger, so have the sequel, Sweet Shadows (2012, both HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks.), available for readers.

Publication Information

CLARE, Cassandra. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Movie ed. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781442485389.

O’CONNOR, Mimi. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion. pap. $18.99. ISBN 9781442493988.

O’CONNOR, Mimi. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: Shadowhunter’s Guide. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781442493995.

Each vol: S & S/McElderry. 2013.

BARNES, Jennifer Lynn. Every Other Day. Egmont USA. 2011. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-169-3; pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-415-1; ebook $9.99. ISBN 9781606842676.

HAWKINS, Rachel. School Spirits. Hyperion/Disney. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781423148494.

ASHBY, Amanda. Demonosity. Penguin/Speak. Aug. 2013. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780142423974.

BEYER, Kat. The Demon Catchers of Milan. Egmont USA. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781606843147; ebook $16.99. ISBN 9781606843154.

PETERFREUND, Diana. Rampant. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 2009. pap. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-06-149004-0; ebook $5.99. ISBN 9780061861475.

CHILD, Tera Lynn. Sweet Venom. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. 2011. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-200181-8; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780062001825; ebook $8.99. ISBN 978-0-06-209345-5.

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Joy Fleishhacker About Joy Fleishhacker

Joy Fleishhacker is a librarian, former SLJ staffer, and freelance editor and writer who works at the Pikes Peak Library District in southern Colorado.

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