Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Source: Bought from Borders.com
Cover: Like the first one, this cover didn't make me pick up off the shelves. However, I feel it fits the book so I like it. Plus the blue scheme is very pretty and they look great together.
First Sentence: "The formidable glass-and-steel structure rose from its position on Front Street like a glittering needle threading the sky."
The Mini-Review: An overall strong sequel to the prior installment with winning characters and a gripping plot until the end.
The Book Summary:
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 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 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?
Set only a few days after the first novel, City of Ashes works hard on delving further into character relationships which I really appreciated. All of the characters went through traumatic ordeals in the first novel and are still trying to deal with the after effects on their lives. I thought focusing on their relationship with the outside world and each other was the best way to go about crafting these novels and I was pleased to find most of the little chinks I had with the first novel ironed out.
I enjoyed watching Clary have time to analyze her feelings. However, I still felt like I didn't get Clary. I appreciated her struggle with her mother and sympathized with her situation but I didn't understand her violent mood swings. One minute she was fine and the next she was snarky with someone and I'm left wondering when we changed gears. I also got frustrated with Clary being so passive about what's happening to her. I felt like she didn't try very hard to get out of the situations she was in and even when she did, it just felt unbelievable. For instance, when she confronts Valentine and wants to get the sword, she has to have a forty minute conversation before she grabs the sword. And after all that, she just drops it. I wanted to see Clary power through things and she didn't. She sort of just floated through and that bothered me a lot about this book. I really hope to see her more active in this next installment.
Jace was much better developed in this novel. I felt like I understood his motivations and he tried to be a lot more open with Clary. His frankness allowed me to really enjoy the parts where the reader got to be with him. Since we got to watch his relationship with his adoptive family crumble, it worked to show us why he is the way he is. I felt like all of his actions where justified and therefore I connected with him better.
Likewise, Simon's relationship with Clary was also more open and allowed me to understand what he was feeling. I also really like the direction his character took in this novel. The things that happen to him make for some gripping reading and a lot of ethical questions.
Maia was a fun new character though I felt a bit of Clary-isms in her with her inability to actually act. She's either angry or weepy and doesn't do much to change her situation. I thought her back story was really interesting though and look forward to seeing her grow.
The plot was great in this one. I liked the mystery around why the kids were being killed and that they pretty much knew it was from the beginning. However, I felt like all of the characters were a bit slow putting things together. It sort of felt like someone told them what was going to happen and three pages later they'd be like "aha! I've figured it out all on my own" even though they should have already put it together. The plot also suffered a bit from "a little less conversation, a little more action please". I felt like some of the scene could have been trimmed for believability and flow. Instead of Clary talking to Valentine for eight pages, maybe only four and then have her act on her plan.
The world building was good. I happier to be getting deeper into the Downworlder and Shadowhunting worlds. I will say that they are on a much smaller scale than I originally thought, not that this is a bad thing. My expectations were for a large community but there only seems to be a precious few of them. I am hoping to see more in the next novel but the smaller scale of this one was bigger than the first so I got a good sense of just how much the world is growing. I like that we get it in steps like Clary discovers it. It's not all thrown on our laps at once but gradually so we can thoroughly explore each new feeling.
Clare's writing definitely smoothed out. The first one felt a bit unsure to me but this next installment really brought out Clare's confidence. There were so many beautiful descriptions while she kept her witty dialog which makes her characters so memorable. The growth was noticeable and made for a great read.
City of Ashes showed great improvement from the first and even though this novel had a few problems, I didn't ever leave home without it in my hands. I was pulled in to the last page and can't wait to start the last one. The characters are all set on certain paths and I can't wait to discover where it's going to lead them. I definitely recommend this series if you haven't read it yet.