City of Bones: Ch 4
Apparently Clary stole something from Jace in the last chapter, and I was reading too fast to catch that one line. He had a cell-phone looking device that isn’t a cell phone, and she wanted to call home on it, so she grabbed it from him and then took off. He told her at the time that it wasn’t a phone.
At the start of this chapter, Clary waits like a good little girl at a crosswalk and examines the not-phone.
Your mother has been attacked and you heard it happen. Granted, there’s cars in the street, but that’s not the point. The point is, she watches the light while waiting for a chance to go. She should be watching the cars and waiting for a break in the traffic. Why? Because fuck traffic lights; your mom is being nommed on by fairies. I’m not advocating that she put herself in front of a speeding car, but she’s focusing on the entirely wrong signal for ‘go.’
Clary gets to the house and notices that the lights are on in her house. For some reason this convinces her that everything is okay. As if her mom couldn’t have been killed or kidnapped, because everyone knows that kidnappers make sure to turn off the lights and lock the doors when they’re done.
When she goes in, she gets waylaid by her neighbor, Dorthea, for a whole page.
YOUR MOTHER IS BEING NOMMED ON BY FAIRIES. STOP MAKING SMALL TALK. Be rude if you have to. She’ll forgive you. (And she doesn’t, who cares? MOM. NOM. FAIRIES.)
She gets home and, oh, look, her Mom was all nommed up by fairies. Probably. All the lights are on, the windows are open, and her mother is nowhere to be seen. However, there is a monster there. It’s an alligator-centipede. I’m going to call it an allipede. The allipede wants to eat Clary, so it chases her around.
Some part of Clary had passed beyond terror into a sort of icy stillness.
Well, I guess that’s one way to excuse writing completely emotionless action scenes. Except, no, it’s not. It’s boring as fuck. Saying that the character doesn’t feel anything doesn’t fix the problem; it just compounds it. Having something other than a laundry list of actions makes the writing pop and keeps the writer engaged, and that’s the reason people say it’s such an important skill.
Backing away, she seized a heavy framed photo off the bureau beside her—herself and her mother and Luke at Coney Island, about to go on the bumper cars—and flung it at the monster.
Aren’t you so glad you know what was in the picture? Aren’t you so glad that you know they were, specifically, about to go on the bumper cars? Doesn’t that add just so much to the scene? Isn’t it just such a better use of words than telling us pesky things, like what the character is feeling?
Turns out throwing picture of people at Coney Island about to go on bumper cars…works about as well as you’d expect it to against an allipede. Maybe she should have thrown the one where they were about to go on the carousel.
Clary gets cornered, and the not-phone in her pocket starts buzzing. The allipede starts talking about how Valentine won’t care if it eats Clary, and while trying to get away from the thing, she shoves the not-phone in its mouth. The allipede hacks and spits up blood and falls over, then someone knocks Clary out so we can have a scene change.
I’m a little torn. On the one hand, I don’t mind that Clary basically defeated the thing by accident. It’s the fourth chapter, so of course she’d be bumbling at this point. She wasn’t passive about her self-defense, just inexperienced. On the other hand, good lord, could the authorial puppet strings be any more obvious with regard to that not-phone? It’s hard to call something ‘accidental’ when you can see the Big Narrative Hand in the Sky.
Clary wakes up to find Jace has moved her to the backyard and is tearing up clothes into…bandages, I guess. Apparently the allipede stung her while in its death-throes, and that’s why she got knocked out. Jace says she’s poisoned, so she has to come with him right now to the Institute so they can fix her, then asks if she can walk.
Here’s the deal about having poison in your blood: when it gets to the places it’s not supposed to go, it kills you. Depending on the poison, it can take a while. The ones that kill you by way of a liver or kidney usually take a while, because they have to build up before the organ shuts down. If it messes with the heart, brain, or lungs, you’ll be dead quicker. We don’t know what kind of poison the allipede had, but Jace specifically mentions that it’s “coursing through [her] veins” so it’s a blood-born thing that needs to be carried somewhere, it’s not magic poison that insta-kills you.
You know what the best thing to do is when you get poison in your blood? Sit the fuck down and keep calm. Walking makes your blood pump faster. Being freaked out (because someone says you’re about to die) makes the blood pump faster. Jace should be trying to keep her as call and immobile as possible, and bring the help to her. At the very least, carrying her would be better than making her walk. Besides that, she got hit in the head, so the poison is already starting off pretty close to her brain.
Turns out there’s police at Clary’s apartment, but they’re just more demons in disguise. Clary coughs up blood, and Jace gives her a mark like the one on his hand, saying it will protect her. Then Clary faints for no apparent reason. No, really. She doesn’t mention being in pain anywhere, being disoriented, having trouble breathing due to coughing up blood, none of that. She gets mildly dizzy, then faints. Granted, she’s got lots of reasons to faint, but it would be nice if the text would let us know which one it was, instead of just leaving us to think “my, my, that was random.”