City of Ashes by Cassandra ClareThe Mortal Instruments Series #2
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 1 April 2008
Young Adult Paranormal
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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?
For Bout of Books 12, I am apparently doing an unplanned marathon read of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series.
If you are unaware of what this series is about, it's a YA paranormal series set in New York, and the plot centers around a teenage girl named Clary. She has always lived a fairly normal life, but then one day her mother gets kidnapped, and she finds out that she's anything but normal.
Unbeknownst to her, her mother was a demon slayer, or Shadowhunter, and the city of New York serves as a home to Shadowhunters, demons, and human/demon hybrids, Downworlders. Now Clary is swept up in the fight of Shadowhunters versus Valentine, an ex-Shadowhunter turned enemy.
I finished the first book, City of Bones, and reviewed it, as well, if you want to check that out.
So, I was immensely frustrated the whole time I was reading City of Ashes. This book was supposed to be about Valentine's return and his continued war against the Clave and Downworlders. What did it mainly focus on? The Clary/Simon/Jace love triangle.
I like a good love triangle. However, this is not one of those. Instead, it made me upset with Clary and Simon for being so blind and cliche. Clary obviously knows what she wants and how she feels, but instead of admitting that (even if she also has to deny herself having it), she leads Simon on. And Simon, who very clearly sees that it is not him that she loves, continues on as if he is blind. He is constantly walking out after being hurt just to return and act like nothing ever happened.
Jace is the only one who knows exactly what he wants, strives after it, and even calls Clary out on her hypocrisy. He is the only character that showed any type of progression to me. However, the reasoning behind one of his major decisions is never explained, and I felt robbed out of any growth that may have occurred in that moment.
Clary just doesn't learn. She continues to run into dangerous situations (literally) after being cautioned by those with more wisdom and more experience. She continues to hurt those around her in completely preventable ways. She is always wanting to please everyone, which ends up hurting everyone. All this while bemoaning that she has no sense of identity. It got some wearisome to me after awhile. I was fine with her in the first book, but throughout this one I just couldn't stand her.
A new character is introduced in this book, and then quickly becomes really important with almost no character development. I felt like Maia was thrust at me and forced into the story, especially in all of her interactions with Simon.
The relationships I did want to see more of were swept aside in a tide of angst. I wanted to see more of Maryse and Robert Lightwood interacting with Jace. Even though I hated the Inquisitor, I was interested in her connection to Jace. I wanted to see more of Jace and Luke or Luke and Simon. Hopefully some of these relationships will be further illuminated in the next book.
My other issue is that there are still questions I had from City of Bones that continue to be unexplained. I really want to know more about the workings of the magic system, especially the runes and the stele. Now that some interesting new things are happening with the Marks, I feel that it would be helpful to know where they even came from in the first place.
I would also like to know more about the Clave from a more reliable source than Valentine or people who may have been lied to by Hodge.
One of the main things I noticed about this book was its lack of originality. The Inquisitor reminded me so heavily of Dolores Umbridge, except not as strong. And Clary is becoming more and more like Bella from The Twilight Series.
I didn't mind the lack of original characters so much in the first book because the plot was so interesting. In this one, however, I couldn't ignore it, especially since Clary had no character development. I really hope that she doesn't stay this way because she will make this series unbearable if she does.
Even though this book had many flaws, I still couldn't put it down because I needed to know what was going to happen in the war, but also with the character of Jace. I am driven by a need to know who he really is (as far as parentage because I don't believe he's Valentine's son) and who he is going to choose to be as a man. I would be more interested in the war if more time was spent on that, but right now it's just Jace that is keeping me invested in this series.
I give this one a 2.5.