City of Bones is a standalone fantasy book set in a fictional world, many years after a cataclysmic event has made water scarce and turned much of the land into desert. There’s a bit of a dystopian vibe here; the city where our characters live is divided into tiers, with the richer and more powerful people living in luxury on the upper tiers while the people in the lowest tiers are barely able to eke out an existence. However, I don’t consider this a dystopian book because the story itself isn’t about changing or overthrowing the current system.
Our main character is Khat, a relic dealer from the sixth tier, which is the third-lowest tier out of eight. He’s fascinated with ancient writings and artifacts, from before the cataclysm. He’s hired by members of a powerful group within the city to help them find some particular relics. This is the catalyst for all of the events in the story as we learn what the relics are and why people are looking for them, and we learn more about the cause of the cataclysm.
Most of the story takes place from the point-of-view of Khat, but there are brief sections throughout the book told from the POV of another character. My Kindle edition, purchased about three months ago, is missing a lot of section breaks. This results in some confusing POV jumps. It was easy enough to figure out after a sentence or two, but it was distracting and annoying.
I enjoyed the story, and I liked the characters a lot. I was never bored by it, but I wasn’t completely absorbed by it either. I read it in short spurts, and I enjoyed what I read, but after a while I would get restless and put the book down to do something else. I think this is partly because the plot was pretty straightforward. It was interesting, and things were certainly revealed over the course of it that I enjoyed, but I never really felt driven to keep reading so I could get to the answers and resolutions more quickly.
There was some ambiguity about who the “good guys” were, but early on I decided correctly and never really saw any reason to waver in that opinion. There were a few supporting characters that I really liked, a couple of which I really wish we had seen more of throughout the book. I particularly enjoyed the banter between some of the characters. The ending was satisfying, and wrapped everything up nicely. This was the first book I had read by Martha Wells, but I liked it enough that I’ll likely try something else she’s written at some point in the future.
When I went to the U.S. Amazon site to double check my purchase date, I noticed the Kindle edition is currently on sale for $2.99. That’s a decent price if anybody has been meaning to read this. It was actually $1.99 when I bought it in April, so maybe it goes on sale pretty often.