City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare | Book Review
Release date: March 25, 2008
Series: The Mortal Instruments (Book #2)
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Before I get into this review, let me give everyone a fair warning: if you haven't read the first book of the series, City of Bones, I will spoil most of what happened there for you since it's impossible not to, when talking about City of Ashes. If you're here just because you're curious whether or not I'm still enjoying the series - yes, absolutely, and I will continue reading. That being said, I have some conflicting feelings about this book. I still loved it, but some things bother me to no end and I will get to those in a minute.
City of Ashes is defined by raging family issues - this seems to be the theme for The Mortal Instruments series as a whole. City of Bones SPOILERS start here. If you thought Jace's problems climaxed at finding out he is Valentine's son and Clary's brother, you are wrong - that was only the beginning. Almost nobody trusts the guy anymore and almost everyone suspects him to have been Valentine's secret agent all along. Jace's snarky personality and unshakable sense of superiority only make the matters worse. In the meantime, some downworlder children are getting killed and drained of blood. Vampires are getting blamed, but we all know from a mile away whose doing this is. The real question is "Why?" And don't think Valentine has given up on his son: will Jace have the strength to go against his father again?
Overall, I think City of Ashes was better that City of Bones. The story was more interesting and a bit less predictable, the writing improved, some characters started developing a level of depth. I found myself enjoying Valentine's character more and more. As far as favorites go, it's between this delightful villain and Magnus Bane. There is something about the way Valentine gets his point across that makes me want to agree with him. If he tried to "recruit" me, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't take long to persuade me. Magnus Bane, on the other hand, is as close as these characters get to a gray area. Even though his allegiances lie with The Clave, he is on his own side and isn't strictly good or bad. So far not much has been revealed about his past and I am very interested to find out more.
Quite a bit of the book is dedicated to vampires and fairies. I couldn't help noticing the similarities to True Blood and Sookie Stackhouse series when it came to traits and practices. This goes along the lines of my issues with the first book: we're in the fantasy world, so please, come up with something new! But this didn't bother me nearly as much as the inappropriate relationships. Yes, there are multiple ones now. One I won't talk about, since it's kind of a spoiler, but let's just leave it at this: age is just a number, but even this theory has its limits. The other relationship I'm referring to is, of course, the incest-ridden yearnings between Clary and Jace. I can't deal with this. I just can't. It's not OK. Please make it stop. It doesn't matter if at some point we will find out they are not actually related, which is something I suspect is going to happen (not a spoiler, just my prediction). What matters is that at this point in time they know they are brother and sister. I understand that they developed feelings for each other before they knew they were related, but come on, if I found out my crush is actually my brother I would throw up in my mouth a little bit and never want to go there ever again. I can't feel for these kids - they're ridiculous.
You would think this would make me stop reading the series, but no - The Mortal Instruments have definitely achieved the guilty pleasure status with me. Thankfully, the books aren't centered around romance, so I just end up focusing on other aspects and looking forward to the next Valentine encounter and his plans to overthrow The Clave. I'm secretly hoping he will win in the end. Does anyone else feel the same way?