38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2013
After loving The Year of the Great Seventh, an amazing fantasy novel free of vampires and werewolves, I had promised to myself that I was going to stay clear of any bloodsucking creatures. But when I came across The Mortal Instruments (Book 2) City of Ashes, I could not resist the temptation.
I was a big fun of City of Bones as I thought it was a very original story. However, I wasn't sure how much more Clary and Jace have left to give. Putting my reservations to one side, I decided to go for it.
City of Ashes revolves around the mysterious murder of Downworlder children in New York City. Clary and Jace are still obviously attracted to each other, but now that they know they are actually siblings, they are trying to repress their feelings for each other.
When the Soul-Sword, the second Mortal Instrument, goes missing, the frightening Inquisitor thinks that Jace had something to do with the disappearance. Clary suspects that Valentine, Clary and Jace's father, is behind the Mortal Instruemnt theft, and possibly, behind the Downworlder children murder.
There is nonstop action through the entire novel. The Shadowhunters continue to fight the demons that almost no one can see. Clary, her best friend Simon, and her now Shadowhunter brother, Jace are tangled in a complicated love triangle. Plus it is easy to relate to the characters even though some of them are half-human.
If you want a captivating read packed with mythology creatures, romance and adventure, you'll love this one.
I am glad I broke my "no more bloodsuckers/werewolves" promise. Ms. Clare: five glittering stars!
114 of 134 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2009
The fantasy genre is well known for taking rich, varied, and well known mythology and twisting it up in new ways. Or at least, attempting to twist it up in new ways. Because let's face it, the vampire has already been invented. Now it's all about what you do with him.
So first, the really good- Cassandra Clare does a mighty fine job of taking rich and varied and well known mythologies and giving them a brand new spark of life that has not been written into the ground already. I enjoy that she picks bits of mythology from all over and uses it to create a world full of truths and half-truths and the people who have to deal with it all. This isn't just another fantasy novel. It reminds me of The Dresden Files for young adults.
The other really good thing about this book, is that the characters are a lot less cliched and stereotypical than most books in this genre. The main male character, Jace, might be pretty and the love interest (more on that in a moment) but he is also haughty, cocky, unlikeable and reactionary. She writes him so well that I sometimes find myself irritated with him- a beautiful and well drafted flaw. Who says our heroes need to be perfect anyway? This is also somewhat of a problem for her though too, because she tries so hard not to write predictable characters that they tend to fall out the other side of the extreme.
I'm also delighted by her fight scenes, which are clear and well written but not long and drawn out. Fight scenes have a tendency to be repetitive. She knows when to get on with it.
The bad- some of the prose is a little watered down. Contrite but clearly written with pleasure. Clare has never met a metaphor she didn't like. Still, the book was a page turner- I ferreted away in an empty cubicle at work to devour it during my breaks, flowery language or not.
The weird (and ugly)- The romance is bizarre. It's not even thinly veiled incestuous desire...it's right in your face and deals with it in a way that is going to make a lot of people uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable. I was at first horrified by her choice. Why would an author do this? But I am a little impressed with her ballsy choices for romances- a very homosexual blooming romance and a heartbreaking passion between two people who only recently found out their brother and sister. That's gutsy, and I can't say I haven't been craving some gutsy romances lately. But like I said, the incestuous romance is so weird it's not good. It reminds me a lot of the incestuous romance in The Royal Tennenbaums. I'm pretty sure we'll find out they aren't brother and sister, but honestly, the damage has been done.
Finally- I like Clary. She's weak and flawed and easily scared and up until the end of the second book, she's sort of a liability in every dangerous situation she's been in. And that makes sense, up until a very short while ago, she was a normal girl getting dressed up to dance at a goth club. It does surprise me though that no one offers to help her become less of a liability, until her powers manifest over night to make her super uber awesome. This is tragic. I'd rather have a main character who is just ok but brave and smart than one who can bring the world to its knees with no apparent explanation and no hard work.
But in the end, I was still captivated and still enthralled and I devoured it in a couple of days, to the neglect of everything else. In the end, that's what matters most to me.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2012
Without a doubt, the second novel in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series is just as nerve-wracking as its prequel. With the return of some of my favorite Shadowhunters, I couldn't help smiling as characters fell in love, pondering as new discoveries were made, and gasping at every turn.
I've always loved the world Cassie Clare had created. A world of nephilim, vampires, werewolves, faeries, and warlocks-each species being a combination of either angel, demon, or human-fascinates me. And the plot in this book! I was engrossed in this one even more than I was in City of Bones (I think I have a thing with murders in books; they just grab at my attention).
Cassie's characters also majorly improved. With this installment in the series, Clary became less of a Mary Sue in my mind. Her newly discovered talent with runes still didn't qualify her as kick-butt, but my opinion of her rose rapidly. And Jace-Jace became even more complex, even more of a character whose emotions dominated him.
The romantic tension between Clary and Jace grew even more in this novel-which of course made me pleased. (Totally Team Jace here.) Even though they still had that pesky little hurdle of (spoiler if you haven't read City of Bones) incest, they couldn't help falling in love with each other, no matter how hard they tried to push their feelings away.
I adored this book. With even more plot twists and major improvements in character development, this book left me flipping its pages 'til the very end. Readers are going to want to get their hands on City of Glass the very minute-no, the very second-they read the last word in this novel.
Source: copy borrowed from library
51 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2008
Less derivative than CITY OF BONES, this sequel suffers from the same purple prose problems, characterisation is sometimes patchy and the internal logic creaks.
Clare works harder to make the material here her own. Valentine is less cliched as a villain, with Clare doing a decent job at showing someone so utterly convinced that he is right that he can't even begin to think that he might be wrong and I could just buy into his being willing to use demons to further those ends. Unfortunately the Inquisitor feels like a rehash of `old' Valentine, a single-minded Shadowhunter who holds Jace responsible for the sins of his father and refuses to listen to any views different to her own.
Jace will appeal to teenagers - moody, handsome and with hints at special powers. His dialogue sometimes doesn't fit his age, but his scenes are confidently handled. I wish I could say the same for Clary. She remains passive and reactive and her own special powers take her too close to Mary-Sue territory. The incestuous feelings between Clary and Jace are the main theme in the book but the subject's handled in a shallow manner as neither character seems interested in the consequences or emotional implications of their feelings and Clare drops anvils as to its resolution, which robs the love triangle between Clary, Jace and Simon of tension.
Simon suffers a great deal in this book and it's a shame that Clare does not set out the scene where he's forced into a terrifying transformation. There have been hints of this since the first book but the main catalyst here happens off page and without any real build-up, which is frustrating as it robs the book of some real drama and shock-value. The dilemma that this transformation causes for Simon is resolved by the end of the book in a way that's too pat and I think it's a missed opportunity.
The prose is purple and repetitive at times and sometimes stunts the action. There are some inner-story logic problems, notably where Jace visits Valentine, finding him easily even though he's managed to evade all of the other Shadowhunters. Best scenes in the book are a dream sequence between Clary and her mother and Valentine's attack on the Silent Brothers. The cliffhanger ending is a cheap device but will leave fans panting for the concluding volume.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2011
(This review refers to all three books of the Mortal Instruments Trilogy. It was written for a blog, so excuse the hyperlink references.)
Titles: City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass
Clary lives as normal and uncomplicated a life as anyone can in NYC--bohemian mom, quiet best friend Simon, father-like family friend Luke... There is nothing more to Clary's world than the everyday--until reality comes crashing through the thin veil of her mind late one night in a sketch downtown club. One glimpse and Clary's mundane life becomes utterly complex: mother's missing; Simon's hopelessly in love with her; angels exist, so do demons, werewolves, and vampires (aka "downworlders"); and the only person who seems to know what's going on is the single most arrogant, cold, and freakishly HOT guy Clary has ever seen. His name is Jace, and he calls himself a Nephalim--half human, half angel.
Before she can even remember to object, Clary is thrown headlong into a serious interspecies conflict led by a rogue Nephalim--Valentine--whose very name inspires the shivers. As the whole shadow world struggles to decide whether to combine forces and stop Valentine from claiming the 3 powerful Mortal Instruments or to give in and allow him to fulfill his diabolical plans, it slowly becomes apparent that Clary is the unsuspecting lynchpin.
In order to stop him, she must face a host of challenges--physical, psychological, and romantic--before confronting the ultimate choice to sacrifices what matters to her most, or live with the devastating consequences.
(I won't give away whole storylines, but will hint at things that aren't revealed until bk 3.)
I knew that sooner or later it'd have to come along: my first negative review. However, please bear in mind that I'm not saying not to read these books. Though I got frustrated and sometimes put them down (for the reasons outlined below), I wouldn't have not finished them. Hence the 3 stars (where I was tempted to give 2). I don't think that I will pick up the new *surprise* book 4, City of Fallen Angels though...and I don't really think back on the ones I did read...at all.
That's because this trilogy falls firmly into the group I'd call "cotton candy": look pretty, smell pretty, melt in your mouth and are gone. They are, seemingly without remorse, a very cheap thrill--a la Twilight & Co.--and for that reason, very hard to put down. I found myself alternatively groaning with gusto and sighing with teen fever.
If you're interested to know the details of why I wasn't so keen on them, keep reading. If not, skip to the next set of stars.
* * * * *
In particular, these 4 things bothered me:
1) Simon. Love triangles are common enough that I've devoted an entire category to them here. But, some are achieved more or less annoyingly than others. This was not in that group. Simon, Clary's friend-turned-gaggy-crush, doesn't stand a chance--he's a clear 2nd best to the cold, heroic heartthrob, Jace. Although, there is one "turn off" about Jace that is supposed to make us doubt his destiny to be with Clary, it was so un-deftly played that I never bit. As a result, Simon ended up looking even dorkier than intended, and, well, just grated on my every last nerve.
2) Incessant Foreshadowing. A literary device full of potential, it became something of a dead horse in these books. I knew the answers to the "burning" questions (and was 100% confident about them) some 500 pages before they were answered. This was, in part, because the narrative was a little too transparent, but also partly because the author spent so much energy trying to keep the questions burning that she smoked the answers out. I like a little more cleverness to my mysteries--otherwise, what motivation do you have to keep reading a not-particularly-well-written 1500-page series?
3) Reckless Manslaughter. Like George in HP, a sibling of a supporting character dies in the final book. However, this series wasn't brave about it: the character is so minor to the plot as to be useless; its removal more of a hiccup than heartstop--and the motive for doing such an obvious attempt at evoking pathos that I almost laughed...then got angry (see Tweet proof). The poor kid's role--who, unlike George, we never get to know and love--is reduced to something like a cute puppy who gets bopped on the head to make softhearted girls go "awww!" Truly, this piece of the narrative was ridiculously clumsily pulled off (enough to deserve two -ly adverbs!). If the writing's good, it will evoke tears through its art--not by stabbing the reader in the hand with a fork.
4) Clamoring Clichés...and a lot of familiar motifs. There is a chunkton of rather unoriginal material in this series. I don't necessarily mean the demon/angel/etc lore--but in actual motifs of the storyline. (Those spoilers I told you about hit most here.)
Brother-sister a(ttra)ction (Starwars)
--> Sociopathic, racist villain whose name begins with "V"--every mention of which name strikes fear--whom the adults of the book went to school with and knew as a "less than purely evil young man," and who plans the purification of the world from inferior races by means of 3 magical artifacts...(Need I go on? Of course, I do mean Voldemort.)
--> A triumvirate of mystical objects, which, when combined, achieve world-changing ends. (Harry Potter series; His Dark Materials trilogy)
--> Heroine who has the power to write or read magical runes/glyphs/letters that alter reality. (the Dreamdark series; His Dark Materials trilogy)
--> Protagonist who discovers they have a powerful parent they've never known when they go off to a haven for their "like kind." (Percy Jackson series; His Dark Materials trilogy; Fever Crumb series)
--> Heroine who is small/weak, and needs protecting by the tall, cold, quiet heartthrob. (Twilight series)
--> Tall, cold, quiet heartthrob with burning golden eyes and slightly jealous siblings. (Twilight series)
--> World with a somewhat malevolent group of specially powered rulers, sitting in a remote European corner of the globe, unbeknownst to the rest of society. (Twilight series; Harry Potter Series; Percy Jackson series; Vampire Academy series...)
--> Death of a supporting character's sibling. (Harry Potter series)
Now, I'm not saying I believe much (if any) of our contemporary literature can claim full originality--it's just not possible, nor would it be much fun. The art of storytelling for the entire history of man has coincided with the art of borrowing. (That was, actually, my masters thesis in a nutshell.) And, J. K. Rowling is a primary example--her work is a virtual collage of borrowed mythic and literary artifacts. However, her story is also extraordinarily complex and subtly original in its own right. The Mortal Instruments books, however, don't have the same complexity by far, and thus their recycling comes across as rather obvious and forced than intriguing, clever, or allusive.
* * * * *
All in all, if you are looking for an easy, fast, rollercoaster ride through romantic conflict and paranormalcy, I do recommend this trilogy. The love story (and hunka-hunka hero) was enough to pull me through. And, pull me it did, I must admit. I was dying to know what happened to Clary and Jace at the end. But, if you find yourself groaning at the obsessive hint-dropping, see-through emotional triggers, and overall mundaneness of style, don't say I didn't warn you.
(Review originally published at [...])
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2009
Is what you'll want to say if you were expecting a well written urban fantasy. Busy teen readers deserve quality reads instead of a book this poorly slapped together. I struggled through this volume only because I purchased the boxed set. Book 2 notches up the pace a bit over the first installment and it's shorter length is an improvement that earned it the 2nd star.
The whole shadowhunter concept is still so thinly fleshed out that when Clary and Jace begin to manifest new powers the reader is left wondering if this is finally an attempt at world building or a plot twist. Magic is tossed in willy nilly whenever cliched drama needs an explanation. In one scene Clary is talking to Simon on her phone when he hears someone smashing in his door. She rushes over to his house a page later and calmly unlocks the door that has just been smashed in. We're told it must be magic. Shadowhunter magic? Demon magic? Bewitched reruns?
A large portion of this book takes place on a ship. However no attempt seems to have been made to research ships. The term is used interchangeably with boat, and terms for parts of the ship such as bulkheads and ladders don't appear until the last hundred pages.(Finally get around to using the library?)
The action scenes are exciting mainly because Ms Clare seems completely unable to visualize them. Two men are backed into a niche fighting the demons in front of them. One of the demons spits poison at them. Does the poison hit the bulkhead behind them when they duck? NO! This is boomerang spit I guess because it goes right over the top of their heads and hits another demon! Amazing.
Isabelle climbs over the rail to leave the ship just before Alex slips in the gore on the deck and slides over the EDGE of the ship. To get over the rail of a ship you either have to climb or be helped which is why when a sailor goes missing on a calm day in the middle of a harbour authorities tend to get a tad excited. Maybe this is Alex manifesting a new edge sliding magic ability?
Clary is knocked to her feet by water pouring through a hole in the ship. A few paragraphs later she is sucked OUT of the ship through the hole with water pouring IN it. Is it possible this author is the only person left in the world who has NOT seen a movie about the Titantic?
I could go on but you get the idea. If you're already a reader of quality fantasy don't waste your money. Click some Amazon links and you're bound to find something better. If you're already a fanbois or fangurl of the series, enjoy, then find a teacher or friend to recommend a really great title. Good books are out there. This just isn't one of them.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2015
This sequel to City of Bones picks up shortly after the first book left off. Nothing new has happened except lots of thinking of the characters behalf. Cassandra Clare does a good job backtracking just enough information so that if the reader missed the first book they will not be completely lost (but likely still confused and missing key story elements) and works as a great refresher for those of us who had a gap of time in between the books. Yet it is short and does not detract from the new plot arc we are given. More adventure, magic and lots of angst await us within these pages!
***Note: This review contains spoilers regarding City of Bones. If you have not read the first book, consider yourself warned!***
This book really hits on Jace hard. I feel bad for the guy. First he is kicked out of his home, locked up by the Inquisitor and then accused of working with Valentine. All because he is Valentine's son and is at the wrong place, at the wrong time! Not to mention the tension and "situation" with Clary. A guy can only handle so much, right? So his loyalty is soon questioned by everyone, especially when Valentines offers Jace to still join him.
We get a lot more love triangle and angst in this one. The twisted family ties seem to have little bearing on Clary or Jace's feelings, especially when the Seelie Queen gets involved. Yet Clary is with Simon. And that relationship is all sorts of awkward, if you ask me.
The Seelie Court and the fairies are an new aspect that we are introduced to. Interesting characters here that I wish I could get a better feel for but are left vaguely mysterious still. Although we do learn a thing or two about Isabelle!
There are several severe twists in this book. Some obvious, others not so much. Like the first book, it keeps the reader lightly on edge and eager for more! The world Cassandra Clare has created just keeps expanding as she draws more and more into this stories web. Sometimes I wonder if it is a bit too much but I can't help but enjoy being a part of that world while I read.
Overall, I enjoy the story. The angst is a bit much for me but it also is part of what draws me closer to the characters. Jace went from being an annoyance to someone who is showing potential in this book. Clary is a bit too emotionally led in her actions all the time and needs to learn to use her head more. One character I really am curious about is Magnus. He is still an enigma yet easy to like and feel drawn to for some reason. So, here is to some character development, and plot additions!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2013
The second installment of the Mortal Instrument series continues on with the journey of Clary. Now that her mom is in a coma, Simon is a rat, and Valentine is on the loose everything is one step away from horrible.
Everything is quite expected, there were no twists and turns in the plot whatsoever. Just as in the first book I found the writing to be exceedingly immature and hard to get through. In this installment the overabundant use of stereotypes really got to me for some reason. If I don't like the characters I just can't like the book.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2009
I don't have a good track record with this series. I read the first one when it was first released and absolutely HATED the twist at the end. It ruined the book for me and hence I never prgressed with the series.
However, one of my friends has been bugging me to finish the series for ages, so I finally got my act together and started them again.
I find Clare's writing to be a little too flowery for my tastes. There is just so much unnecessary description - towards the end I was just reading the dialogue and skimming all the description in between. It doesn't really add to the story at all. Actually I skimmed probably 1/4 of this book, that was mainly just so I could finish it instead of reading a couple of pages from time to time.
38 of 55 people found the following review helpful
I checked out City of Ashes from my local library. Unlike City of Bones, which I bought to see if I could use it in my classroom (I couldn't), I was just reading City of Ashes for my own pleasure.
There are a few good things about City of Ashes and many bad things about it. I will discuss the positive aspects first. (Be forewarned I am going to be discussing major plot points of this novel (i.e. SPOILERS), if you have not read City of Ashes, then I suggest you SKIP my review).
I must say that in this book, Ms. Clare's characterizations are somewhat better. Not a whole lot better, but improved, at least most of the Star Wars references are gone. For example, I really enjoyed the characters of Alec and Magnus. In fact, they are the only reason I gave this book 2 stars instead of one. Their love story is bold, interesting and different. I hope Ms. Clare will expand on their relationship in the third book. For me, Alec and Magnus were my favorite part of City of Ashes.
Now onto the negative aspects of the book. First, the book starts out with a bang with Valentine showing up. Then, we get 6 chapters of BORING, slow-paced nonsense. Unfortunately Ms. Clare doesn't seem to know how to write a fast-paced sequel that can keep the reader awake with drama and action. The end picks up, but by then the casual reader may have just discarded the novel.
Another negative aspect is that once again Ms. Clare is drawing from other source material for her characters (i.e. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer). In chapter one, when Clary and Simon are watching the movie Dracula, I figured out that by the end of the book Simon would turn into a vampire - and guess what he did! There was no surprise to this revelation. Now I know the book is being targeted to 14+, but that plot point was so obvious a 6 year old could have seen it coming.
Lastly, what is up with the promotion of an incestuous relationship between Clary and Jace? I understood that in book one, the two did not know they were brother and sister and had feelings for one another, but in this book they clearly know they are related and yet continue to kiss and discuss their romantic feelings ad nauseum. (At one point, Jace states he wants to be with Clary, no matter if they are related or not, Clary nixes that idea, but by the end of the book, she is okay with it?) I am not getting it. This book is geared towards young readers, so why is the author pushing an incestuous relationship onto her audience? I have my own ideas about why this is happening and will see if they play out in book 3, but for now that plot is just morally wrong. Brothers and sisters should not be thinking of making out or having sex with one another.
Overall, I cannot say I liked this book. On my hand it had some great aspects (Alec and Magnus), and then it had some downright awful things (incestuous plotline, slow pace). So, what I am recommending is that if you liked the first book, but are unsure of wanting to buy this book, then check it out of the library. Save yourself $[...].