Series: The Mortal Instruments,
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on 2008-03-25
Length: 453 pages
Reviewing Hardcover from My Book Shelf
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.
***Do NOT read this review unless you have read City of Bones***
I’m not really sure how I feel about City of Ashes. I mean I know I loved it! I devoured it in just over 24 hours with very little sleep. I love the plot, the world-building, every word….BUT I did take issue with the characters. Jace is a conundrum, Clary is weak, and Simon just gets on my nerves. More on that in a minute though.
City of Ashes pulled me in immediately with its creepy prologue, featuring a higher demon that feeds on the fear of others and of course Valentine. I knew after that the book would be fantastic and it didn’t disappoint. As Clary tries to come to terms with her heritage, her mother’s magical coma, and Simon, Jace is also dealing with some heavy stuff, like his father isn’t dead, his father is actually Valentine, making the girl he loves his sister *gag*
In addition to all of this, Mrs. Lightwood returns, fearful for her children and distrusting of the boy she took in all those years ago. She kicks Jace out, telling him to leave that the Clave will deal with him and make their decisions, but he could no longer stay with them, putting her children in more danger. I can see her point to an extent, but my heart broke for Jace and the lost little boy he tries to hide inside him.
Jace is perhaps my favorite character (aside from Luke, who I’ll get to soon). He puts on this persona that he is unaffected by those around him, he doesn’t need anyone but himself, and he is fearless. When in reality, he is none of those things. He loves the Lightwoods as if they were truly his family. They took him in and loved him after he witnessed, what he thought was, his father’s death. Now when his father comes back and is the guy that ruined their lives when Jace was still in diapers, they’ve abandoned him, leaving him to his own destructive nature. Jace feels unworthy of anyone’s love or friendship, like I said heartbreaking.
Clary is just as much a mess as Jace in this book. She’s angry with her mom for keeping secrets and guilty for feeling angry when all she really wants is for her mother to wake up. She’s confused about her feelings for Jace and she’s trying to puzzle out Simon, her best friend who wants more. She’s lost and as a result her character development in this book is nearly nonexistent.
Simon on the other hand was fleshed out better this book. In City of Bones, I found him annoying. He was whiny and all like “why don’t you love me” and there’s a little of that in this book, but it goes deeper. Simon finally puts all his feelings for Clary out there in the open, telling her flat out he loves her. It was brave, BUT I still take issue with him. He wants her to run from her Shadowhunter life. He doesn’t support her learning or going any deeper into the world. He’s terrified for her, but doesn’t try to understand how hard this is for her.
And then we have Luke, Clary’s “uncle” and her mother’s best friend. He is my favorite character. After a shaky start in City of Bones, Luke is the only person in the books that I feel is wholly honest with Clary. He loves her, wants to protect, but will not shelter her from the truth as her mother did, at least not now that she knows. I was impressed with his character and the other adults in this young adult series. Usually author omit parental characters or make them absentee characters (you know, mentioned but never present in the plot), Clare doesn’t do this which makes Luke a great character in my eyes!
Okay I can’t go any further without addressing the love triangle. Could you guys see my eyes rolling as I typed that?! You know I hate love triangles but this is a unique one. We have Clary and Jace who had an insta-love relationship that started in the first book. Then we have Clary and Simon with his unrequited love and their life-long friendship. I struggled with how I felt. I mean my ship is sunk. Clary and Jace are brother and sister which makes their feelings incest and breaks my heart because their chemistry is amazing. And I just feel so gross writing that!!!! But Simon is SO whiny and needy and not for Clary.
Overall I really loved the book! While I didn’t care for the relationship between Clary and Jace (face it, my ship has sunk), the character development of Jace and Simon was amazing. The plot was suspenseful, full of action and wholly unique, at least to me a first-time reader of the series. I cannot wait for more!