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Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Ashes
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
First Published: March 2008
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Library
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Support your Local Library Reading Challenge
453 pages




On the flap
A murderer is loose in New York City ...

... and the victims are Downworlder children. Clary Fray and her fellow Shadowhunters have a strong suspicion that Valentine, Clary's father, may be behind the killings. But if he is the murderer, then what's his true motive? To make matters worse, the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, has been stolen, and the mysterious Inquisitor has arrived to investigate, with his eyes vigilantly targeted on Clary's brother, Jace.

Clary will need to face some terrifying demons and even more terrifying family decisions. No one said that the life of a Shadowhunter would be easy.


This is the second book of the Mortal Instruments series. Read my review of the first book, City of Bones, here.

Although I wasn't too impressed with City of Bones, I was hooked enough to grab the next book from the library and place a hold on the third. Though the suspense only deepened, I am hoping for more answers in the 3rd book, City of Glass.

My opinion
City of Ashes is just as quick a read as City of Bones. It starts out where the first book left off - with a confused Jace and Clary trying to adapt to the weird family revelation made by Valentine. Clary's best friend, Simon, comes back into prominence and re-bonds with Clary. Valentine, on the other hand, is trying to get control of the second Mortal Instrument, the Soul-Sword. He still has cleansing of the Downworlders on his agenda.

I found the character relationships better developed here. Jace, especially was well-written, though he mostly struck me as unpredictable in his thoughts and actions. Simon, as Clary's best friend, and potential boyfriend, is thankfully not projected as a dumb-head in this book. I was tired of all the verbal bullying he had to endure from Jace, Alex and Isabella, and I'm sure if not for Clary, he would have given the Shadowhunters the cold shoulder, which is what I wanted him to do. He is more into his person in this book, and it was nice to see Jace standing up for Simon, once in a while.

As in the first book, I wasn't too impressed with the writing and the dialogue delivery. There are lines of conversations that were very irrelevant. Such conversations are brought in, usually to build rapport among the characters and to increase our familiarity with the characters. Somehow, I felt neither in this case, since I already knew the characters well, and they knew each other well too. Moreover, 453 pages is quite long, considering there is quite a bit of irrelevant banter in the book. At one point, I just wanted to finish the book, since it was getting too predictable for comfort.

Those who didn't read the first book, skip the following paragraph and head over to the next.

I would have expected Jace and Clary to embrace each other as siblings and get used to it, not have another go at kissing as was suggested by the Queen Fey. Probably the plot line demanded it, but there really was no need of some romance just to include it. I am guessing that all this is done for a purpose, so that when some different revelation is made in the next book, the reader is able to invite the romance as natural. Nevertheless, I did cringe on reading this. It was a horrible thing to imagine.

Thankfully, there was more original content in this book than in City of Bones. Remember I mentioned that I found City of Bones to be medley of a few popular books. City of Ashes though, has quite a few concepts original to it, at least, I hadn't read of them in any other book (and since I read very little fantasy, please do not take my word for or against it.)

For no reason, than just to share with you, here's a quote I really liked from this book:

As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?

Overall, I give City of Ashes the same rating as City of Bones. This is quite a gripping read, with plenty of thrills and twists. A guilty pleasure read.

Title Demystified
I thought the title, City of Bones, was hard to crack. City of Ashes is even harder! There's not much indication what this title stands for other than the Silent City, which is what City of Bones meant as well. The Silent City is the "library" of the Shadowhunters maintained by the Silent Brothers, who speak in your head and mutilate themselves to enhance their knowledge.

Cover Art Demystified
The red haired girl on the cover is Clary, and unlike Jace in the cover of the first book, who is completely adorned with runes, Clary has just a few, but as you will see in this book, she manages pretty well, due to, err, an uncanny power that she has.

What did you think?
Have you read this book? I'd like to know what you thought about it. Please leave your review link in the comments, or a brief opinion, if you hadn't reviewed it.

Did you like it or you didn't? If you didn't, at what point did the book turn you off.

Is the 3rd book better than the first two? ;-)

Comments

bermudaonion said…
I'm glad you're enjoying this series. If I decide to give it a try, I'll want to start with City of Bones.
Astrid (Mrs.B) said…
I've heard about this series but wasn't sure if it was any good. Loved the Hunger Games and I've been picking up a few YA books recently and been disappointed by each one. Great review and I'm off to check out your review of Book one...
i really enjoyed this series, and from memory found pretty much everything wrapped up by the end of book three, although i heard there is a book 4 coming out soon so not sure what that will be about? i'm looking forward to it though.
I like hearing they are quick reads. The size is a little intimidating when I think there are three of them I have to find time for. :)
Athira said…
Kathy, I hope you do read them, they get over fast, and are suspenseful!

Mrs. B, I know how you feel. Not all YA books agree with me either, and it's hard to find one that I don't find too childish. Some YA books, sadly, are for YA only. :(

mummazappa, there is a book 4 coming out, City of Fallen Angels, and that's going to be from Simon's viewpoint. Though, the story as told in the first three books do get wrapped up, and the 4th starts with some other adventure.

Sheila, Almost 1500 pages for the three books. Believe me when I say that you can be done inside 2 days, if you read at a stretch. :)
The1stdaughter said…
Definitely a "guilty pleasure read" as you put it! I loved these books, all of them (even the third). I actually didn't mind the dialog running a bit long in any of the books because a lot of it was pretty funny. Yes, you get some answers in the third and it does wrap things up nicely. Although, there is now a forth coming out some time next year I believe.

Great review! I can't wait to hear what you think of City of Glass!
Athira said…
I've been hearing that the 3rd book ties everything in nicely. Can't wait to get the book. It's been a long wait for me!!

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