Welcome back everyone! This week, I’m reviewing book two in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare – City of Ashes. I had mixed feelings diving into the second book of this series, given how I felt about the first book. If you want to read my review for book one, check out the links listed down below.
The synopsis reads: 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 breath-taking 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.
City of Ashes was far more enjoyable than City of Bones – there was more development in all aspects, and it is paced faster – hopefully, by the third book we’ll be at a good galloping speed.
Last time, I mentioned allegations of plagiarism against Cassandra Clare. Some have said that the characters and a bit of the story morphed from a Harry Potter fanfiction – and that comparison is much more visible in this book. There are a lot of parallels – some may complain that there are too many, and I absolutely do not condone any form of plagiarism, but since I don’t really know what happened behind the scenes – or behind the paper, I won’t complain. I found the Harry Potter series quite pleasant when I was younger.
Once again, the diversity in this series is absolutely stunning, especially considering the books were written a very, very long time ago. *Dramatic gasp* They were written in 2007, when the YA market was just emerging as a popular choice.
Next, Clare’s characters – we see some new additions to our usual group of Shadowhunters-plus-Simon-and-Magnus. Raphael, the vampire – we were given a brief sneak peek at who he was in book one, but now we truly see his value to the Shadowhunters and his resourcefulness as a character. To me, Raphael seems like a good guy, with the bad luck of having been turned into a vampire.
Next, we have Maia – a werewolf in one of the packs of New York. She’s spunky, and no-nonsense, and seems the most practical of the lot, though her emotions can sometimes cloud her judgement. Throughout the book, there are heart-breaking moments where the readers really feel for her, and that adds to the whole experience.
And old character who really shone in this book was – drumroll please – Simon. Now in the first book of the series, Simon wasn’t crucial to the plot – he was just the token nerdy-boy best friend, a side character to enhance Clary as the protagonist and to boost her – I’m sorry, but very lacking and nearly non-existent-personality.
Perhaps that is why so often, readers say that protagonists often don’t have a well-defined personality, with no distinct personality traits. It is hard to come by books with memorable main characters, rather than side ones meant to enhance and improve. Sometimes, I see that authors have extremely creative worldbuilding, and a nice, well-thought-out plot with plenty of twists and turns to keep the readers on their toes – but in the process of doing so, they lose the qualities of characters.
The banter, witty, sarcastic remarks and snarky comebacks were absolutely spot on in this book, with many jokes and comments sounding like things real teenagers would say.
Like I said in my last review, I think the story would be much more enjoyable if I had read this when I just started out in this genre, or when I was a few years younger, it would have been more fun to read. There are parts of the story where my eyes glaze over, not necessarily from boredom, but a lack of will to continue with the plot.
One aspect of the story I found problematic was the odd love triangle between Clary, Simon and Jace. For anyone still waiting to read book one, I advise you skip to the next paragraph – we have a spoiler here. Okay? If you’re still here, then at the end of book one, we learn that Valentine is Clary as well as Jace’s father, making them – drumroll please – siblings! The issue here is that before finding out they had familial relations, Clary and Jace were on the brink of being a couple. You would think that finding out they were siblings would completely shut down any romantic ties, but sadly, no. A moment of silence for those currently retching. Simon was left in the dust, because of the siblings-but-are-they-really’s strange dynamic, but there were constant mentions and hints throughout the book that Clary and Jace aren’t actually related. Here’s hoping!
And we’re back to the spoiler-free parts. The banter, witty, sarcastic remarks and snarky comebacks were absolutely spot on in this book, with many jokes and comments sounding like things real teenagers would say.
[Clary] “We came to see Jace. Is he alright?”
“I don’t know,” Magnus said. “Does he normally just lie on the floor like that without moving?”
Not excluding a certain centuries-old warlock with the body and brain of a seventeen-year-old boy.
“I don’t want to be a man,” said Jace. “I want to be an angst-ridden teenager who can’t confront his own inner demons and takes it out verbally on other people instead.”
Once again, the diversity in this series is absolutely stunning, especially considering the books were written a very, very long time ago. *Dramatic gasp* they were written in 2007, when the YA market was just emerging as a popular choice. Overall, I enjoyed City of Ashes much more than I thought I would, and I hope that the third book, ‘City of Glass’ is even better!
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