Monday, April 23, 2012

Jenn's Review: City of Ashes

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 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?

Review: City of Ashes picks up shortly after City of Bones left off. Things quickly start spiraling out of control. The tenuous threads that held the teenage Shadowhunters together are starting to fray. Clary is trying hard to put her interest in Jaece behind her and concentrate on Simon... but circumstances are not making it easy.

There is not a dull moment in City of Ashes. It's action packed from start to finish, with a few quick respites for regrouping. Valentine is a formidable foe, especially with two out of the three Mortal Instruments. He's a swift talker, and charming when he wants something, but a ruthless maniac to the core. Many prejudices come to light in this book along with old fears and buried vengance. The progression of the characters was nice. Alec is finding his way, Isabelle is learning to trust Clary, and Simon learns to take control of his life. Even Jace, who is reeling out of control, softens around the edges when Clary is around.

I found this plot slightly more predictable than City of Bones, but enjoyable nonetheless. There were a few clichés, one particularly cringe-worthy one, and a couple of blatant moments of foreshadowing but on the whole the characters and overarching plot twists kept it interesting.

I must say that I love the available extras on the Mortal Instruments website.  Aside from that the fact that excerpts also come in audio format (how cool is that?!?), Cassandra Clare has also included a reading group guide (love when these are available).  But the more fascinating part for me are the deleted scenes, which are more frequent in quantity as the series advances.  They're wonderful little bonus morsels.

Cassandra Clare still hasn't resolved several big issues by the end of the book. Plus this one is left on more of a cliffhanger than the last, so there is no way I'll be able to read anything except City of Glass next. Yes, I'll admit it. I'm hooked.

Final Take: 4/5

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