Sunday, 8 November 2009

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

SPOILER WARNING!! Usual thing, no real spoilers for the book itself, but some sizable spoilers for the first book. Read at your own risk ;)

"With her mother in a coma and her father hellbent on destroying the world, Clary Fray is dragged deeper into New York City's terrifying underworld of werewolves, demons and the mysterious Shadowhunters. Discovering the truth about her past was only the beginning. Now the fate of the world rests on Clary's shoulders, but can she master her new-found powers and control her feelings for a boy who can never be hers?"

City of Ashes is the second book in the Mortal Instruments series. It picks up just after the events of the first book, City of Bones.

Having learnt the truth of her heritage, and that the boy she's fallen for is actually her brother, Clary struggles to keep positive and moving forward. Her mom is in a coma with little chance of recovery, her best friend wants more than she can give, her brother (Jace) is going off the deep end having discovered the truth about his heritage (and Clary may be the only one who can reach him), facing the Inquisitor (a Shadowhunter who seems to have a personal interest in destroying Jace). And, oh yeah, all hell is breaking loose (literally) as Valentine, her father, tries to create a war that will destroy all underworlders, and anyone else who gets in the way, including his kids. Creating the war means recovering the rest of the Mortal Instruments, and turning them to his own dark uses, something Clary, Jace and the rest of the team will do anything to stop.

Like Bones, Ashes is told in third person, but although most of the book is still Clary's 'perspective' there is a lot from Jace's as well, and a few other characters. The different perspectives help to tell the story pretty well, giving a good look at various aspects of the world. This second book sees Clary and Jace discovering still more about their heritage and the introduction of several new characters adds to the world nicely.

There are time though, where the plot felt a little sluggish. And there is also the odd word that feels like the authors picked up the thesaurus to add more interesting words or something, instead of the normally simple narrative, which doesn't work particularly well. On the plus side, despite the aforementioned occasional sluggishness, the plot felt a little tighter than the first book. And the simple narrative works to create a book that's a bit of a lighter read (despite the length) or just easier for young teens to get on with.

There aren't many real surprises here. Most of the things that happen you can see coming a ways off, the 'subtle' hints really aren't. And the things that are more of a surprise as to what actually happens, you knew something was going to happen, so the impact isn't so big. There was one moment that really surprised me. Near the very end there is a conversation that takes place that shows real maturity and reality, surprising and impressing me. The lack of surprises do take a little away from the books, but overall I still enjoyed the book. There is a lot of foreshadowing for the next books, though of course I need to read it to find out if it really is or not, but I'd be more surprised if it wasn't. The series may not be fantastic, but it makes for good lighter reading and I still enjoyed the book, though not quite as much as the first for some reason. Still worth a look. 6/10

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