Title: City of Ashes [Mortal Instruments 2]
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA/Teen, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Action & Adventure, Urban
Rating: 5 Stars
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?
WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, possibly even more so than the first book – though it wasn’t my favorite in the series. Like the first book, it had it’s ups and downs and characters I really didn’t care for. I still hate Simon with a passion, and sometimes Clary makes really stupid mistakes… but the writing itself was excellent. Ms. Clare has a very easy-to-follow style of writing; both clear, and well-paced that makes reading this book and the others in the series, enjoyable. I never felt I was being pushed or dragged along as with some books, and there weren’t an abundance of technical issues with grammar, formatting, or word choice that made me want to pull my hair out.
My biggest frustrations came down to Simon and Clary’s relationship. I don’t like Simon. I can’t really put my finger on why I don’t like him… he didn’t particularly bother me in the movie series (okay maybe he did a little) but there’s something about him in the book series that really irks me. Maybe it’s because I’m routing so deeply for Clary and Jace that Simon’s presence grinds a nerve… or maybe it’s the almost pushy-quality there is to his character when he’s with Clary. Look, I understand that he’s been in love with Clary for like… forever, but it’s obvious to anyone with a brain that Clary really isn’t that interested in him. You’d think he’d have some self respect and step away from that situation.
On the flip side, I’m equally annoyed with Clary in this particular case. The fact that she was willingly dating Simon (and even making out with him) gave me the heebie jeebies. There’s a certain ick factor that comes a long with their relationship that finally made me realize what a genius the author was. Let me explain: I don’t have that ick factor when it comes to Clary and Jace, who are supposed to be siblings at this point in the series. Something that should be totally taboo and bring about feelings of ickyness instead has me cheering on their forbidden relationship. I think it’s a testament to Ms. Clare’s writing that I am so thoroughly engrossed in their love that I’m completely willing to ignore the fact that.. let’s face it… it’s gross. Instead, I get the feeling I should have about Clary’s relationship with Jace, with Clary and Simon instead. It feels like they’re siblings, and so it bothers me greatly when they’re together. I think it’s fantastic that the author was able to switch the roles of the relationships like that so clearly as to completely change how I see them.
Another character I absolutely hated (even more than Simon, and that’s saying something) was the Inquisitor from the Clave. She had a very distinct personality that reminded me a lot of Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter series. I could swear they were sisters. Imogen has that sense of trying to do what she perceives as correct and lawful by her understanding of her job, but takes it that extra step too far and breaks the moral code that the rest of us live by. Much like Umbridge tortures Harry by making him carve sentences into the back of his hand, Imogen tortures and wrongfully imprisons Jace. She’s a character you love to hate, and it was almost tragic the way the story closed out on her character (I’ll leave the spoilers out this time).
I think one of my biggest sticking points in this whole story was Maryse. I spent 99% of the book trying to figure out how to pronounce her name (despite the fact that at one point Clary very clearly pronounced it as “May-ris” to Simon. There’s something about the spelling that made it impossible for my brain to fathom. I really wish the author had named her ANYTHING different. Instead, I spent the entirety of the story waffling between Mary-suh and a strange pronunciation of Maurice. I just can’t handle the name.
That aside, there were some really great moments in this book. It was nice to watch Jace struggle with his personal and familial identity throughout the book, as well as Clary’s discovery of her true power. She really came into her own in this novel, and she had some really kick-ass moments as I sunk further into the book. There were some great scenes in the later half of the book involving the Silent Brothers, Valentine, and Clary (not all at once)—and it was nice to see a little more of the Fey. Let me tell you – they both fascinate and creep me out at the same time. The Queen of the Seelie freaks me out.
Overall, I have to say that I really enjoyed the book. I’d happily recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA fiction, and I certainly think anyone who even remotely enjoyed the movie or the first book should certainly check it out. The series only gets better as it goes on. This is definitely going on my Keeper Shelf.