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Cassandra Clare – City of Ashes

May 6, 2011

57. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (2008)
The Mortal Instruments, Book 2

Read my review of book:
1. City of Bones

Read By: Natalie Moore
Length: 12h 19m (453 pages)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Started: 06 April 2011
Finished: 16 April 2011

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I was hooked enough by City of Bones to read the rest of the trilogy.

Do the sins of the
father really affect the
morals of the son?

**Notice: Here there be spoilers for City of Bones. Consider yourselves warned.**

Summary: After the revelations of Jayce and Clary’s family history, there’s a major upheaval – not only in their budding relationship, but also in the world of the Shadowhunters. Jayce, in particular, is no longer trusted. He was raised by the criminal mastermind Valentine, and his loyalties to the Clave are now being questioned by everyone, from his adoptive parents all the way up to the High Inquisitor herself. And it’s a dangerous time for loyalties to be in doubt – Valentine has the Angel’s cup, and he has designs on the rest of the Mortal Instruments as well… plans that will cost the lives of Downworlders and Shadowhunters alike.

Review: I’m a little perplexed by my reaction to City of Ashes – to all of Cassandra Clare’s books, really. I like them, for sure, and I am certainly going to keep reading them, but I’m not over the moon crazy about them in a way it seems like so many people are… and I can’t put my finger on why not. They certainly have lots of things I like: paranormal YA, an interesting and well-built internal mythology, good writing with snappy dialogue and a sense of humor, plenty of action, etc. But something is just not quite clicking the way I want it to.

I think part of it is that a large part of the plot focuses around the romantic storyline. That’s not a problem in and of itself, but while I like Jayce and Simon well enough, I’m not particularly invested in either of them as a romantic lead, and so I don’t find the love triangle aspect of things all that compelling. In fact, in City of Ashes, I found the familial relationships – particularly the parent/adopted offspring relationships between the Lightwoods and Jayce, and Luke and Clary – much more interesting than all of the “I love you but I can’t have you but I can’t not have you” drama of Clary’s love life. In general, the secondary characters provided most of my favorite moments of the book (I actually cheered aloud when the “fearless” rune started working for the first time), and I wish they’d gotten some more screen time.

The plot itself was certainly enough to hold my interest, although I thought that more could have been done with Valentine’s plan and the magic behind it. I also think that leaving Jayce’s allegiances in question for longer could have upped the dramatic potential substantially. There were a number of clues dropped about Jayce and Clary’s past that weren’t ever paid out completely – something that is presumably coming in the next book? – so that while I’m while I’m not rabidly in love with this series, I’m definitely enjoying myself and interested enough to keep reading. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: City of Ashes is in no way a stand-alone book; City of Bones need to be read first. The series as a whole should appeal to fans of YA fantasy, particularly urban fantasy, who aren’t burnt out on love triangles yet.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: About Books, Bookshelves of Doom, Em’s Bookshelf, Fiction Folio, The Infinite Shelf, Just Your Typical Book Blog, Kawzmik World, Love Vampires, MariReads, Reader Rabbit, Tea Mouse Book Reviews, That’s What She Read, YA Reads
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: The formidable glass-and-steel structure rose from its position on Front Street like a glittering needle threading the sky.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2011 11:29 am

    One day I am going to give this trilogy a try…

    • May 9, 2011 7:08 pm

      Kailana – Even though it’s not blowing me away, I’ve also never seen anybody really dislike it, so if you need something reliably good, you might want to keep that in mind.

  2. May 6, 2011 12:31 pm

    Like you I enjoyed it but wasn’t completely in love. And, in fact, over a year after reading it, I don’t remember much of it. It’s certainly entertaining though!

    I reviewed it, although it’s more a review of one character lol, but here it is : http://infiniteshelf.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/review-city-of-ashes/

    • May 9, 2011 7:10 pm

      Kay – Added your link, thank you! I agree that I don’t know how long this one will stick in my head.

  3. May 6, 2011 2:50 pm

    I absolutely loved the first one and I do have the rest of the books. Now to find the time to read them. I’m looking forward to Book 2 soon I hope. I don’t think these books are anything you truly remember – they’re really just entertainment but sometimes you really need something like that.

    • May 9, 2011 7:10 pm

      Darlene – Absolutely! Nothing wrong with books that you know will be reliably good.

  4. May 7, 2011 3:38 pm

    I agree with your sentiments. Awesome book, great premise (I love the stele idea) but for some reason doesn’t prompt me to pick up the next one so much…

    • May 9, 2011 7:11 pm

      Sharry – I’ll keep going with the series, but it’s not high enough priority that I’m not willing to bump it for another Vorkosigan audiobook. :)

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