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Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Wednesday, November 07, 2012 § 2 Comments

Title: City of Ashes
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments, Book 2
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Adventure
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Release date: March 25, 2008
ISBN-10: 1416914293
ISBN-13: 9781416914297
Format: Hardcopy
Source: Purchased
Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

My Review:
First thing's first, I would definitely recommend reading City of Bones before City of Ashes, as the story takes place right after the events of the first book. It might will be confusing if you don't know the entire back story.

In the second installment of the Mortal Instruments, Clary Fray has finally found her mother after the life-changing events in the equally breathtaking predecessor. However, Jocelyn Fray is in a magically induced coma, put on her to avoid revealing deep secrets to her once upon a time husband, Valentine. Valentine, on the other hand, wants to destroy all Downworlders: werewolves, vampires, and faeries. Clary and her friends team up once again with extra help from others to battle against her and Jace's terror of a father, who is after the Mortal Sword this time around to continue his plan to bring down the Clave. With the return of Valentine and the discovery of Jace's identity, the young Shadowhunter is under much scrutiny from the Clave and everyone around him. To make things worse, he and Clary are dealing with the aftermath of the news that they are siblings and being forced to deny their feelings for each other. This leads to a lot of confusion with Simon, Clary's best friend who has been harbouring a secret crush on her. Simon has his own problems -- much bigger problems -- to deal with as a result. Absolutely nothing is easy, everyone is still reeling from previous revelations, and unfortunately for our heroes, this is only the beginning.

This time around, there was more on the Downworlders, which is something that I've been looking forward to since Magnus' party in City of Bones. Clare intertwines between the mystical world of the Shadowhunters and the gritty streets of New York. Everyone is on high alert now that Valentine is on the loose; the Lightwoods are back at the New York Institute to clean up the mess Hodge had left, and Jace's newly-revealed identity also affects his relationship with the family that he's come to know and love as his own. There's more focus on things like Simon's feelings for Clary and vice versa in this book. But I really couldn't stomach Clary and Simon as a couple. Not ashamed to say that I'm too much of a Clace (yes, the portmanteau -- I had to) supporter for that. Plus, I adore Simon and Clary's friendship, nothing more. Their dynamic as best friends was one of my favourite things in book one, unrequited love aside. I'm not a fan of love triangles, but the Jace-Clary-Simon fiasco is far from your average. It's pretty messed up and disturbing if you've read the end of City of Bones and the summary above (I know, ick, her bother?!), but I'm all for disturbing. I don't know what that says about me, but I feed on twisted storylines... it makes things more interesting. While I did feel for Clary and Jace's major dilemma, there was a lot of focus on the fact and at times it became a little too much; luckily Clare made up for those little bouts with amazing action sequences and shifting to the backgrounds of the other characters.

I don't think there's a character I don't like or at least find uninteresting in this series. Valentine, for instance. I loathe him and his Hitler-like mentality, but his back story and the way Clare recalls it is so captivating and interesting. Old characters are further explored and there are new ones added into the mix. This book definitely cemented my love for some in particular. Such as...? Isabelle, Isabelle, Isabelle. My lovely Isabelle. I loved her even more in this book. Her one-liners were to die for ("Nothing less than seven inches", "I'm pure at heart. It repels the dirt"). She's such a fierce character and so sure of herself. Another character that was introduced was Maia. Yay for female werewolves! I think the last time I read a book with a female were was in Blood and Chocolate... and I was about 14-15. She's basically a female version of Simon. Speaking of... Simon, my love! This was a great book for him. I loved mundie Simon, but I love vampy Simon even more. Just his whole adjustment to it was such a great thing to read about, because you could tell it was very hard on him, very far from glamourized. It's not easy adjusting knowing that there's a possibility you could kill and that you'll probably outlive everyone you love. Then add Clary's overwhelming feeling of guilt and belief that all of it was her fault? It's heartbreaking. Then there's Jace. Just stick a knife in me and twist it, why don't you? Poor kid, getting kicked out of the Institute because of who he is. I love the Lightwoods (by far my favourite TMI family), and I'm so happy that the rest of them were finally introduced in this book, but Maryse lost some points with me for that one. She kind of redeemed herself after, though. I'm glad that the mystery of where Jace comes from was being further focused on. Dude's lived a very complex life. Of course, there's the precious Alec and Magnus, who both started to grow on me. I could tell that they would be something special as the series goes on. There was also the development of Luke and his connection to both worlds and their inhabitants. He spent most of the book at the hospital, watching over Jocelyn and hoping she would wake. It's amazing how the story was fueled by a woman who fell into a coma quickly in the series. Her back story and how she brought up Clary led to all of these events happening in her daughter's life now, and Jocelyn's not even awake to tell the tale. It just makes it more exciting to look forward to hearing Jocelyn's side of it once (if?) she finally wakes up.

As you can probably tell from that huge last paragraph, I enjoyed the character development immensely. The last 100+ pages were also very action-packed and was the perfect way to end the book. I was eager to jump into the third book right away. This second installment definitely entertained me more than the first. City of Bones was a great set-up for the things to come, but City of Ashes had such great character development and so many unexpected twists and turns that kept me thoroughly engrossed.

My rating:

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