City of Ashes is the second installment in The Mortal Instruments series, an urban fantasy series set in New York written by Cassandra Clare. The novel was one of YALSA’s top ten teen books for 2009. Reading it now, though, over a 6-months span of picking it up and putting it down, I can’t see why it was ever famous. The book is a bore-lake, a bore-kingdom and the writing is laconic and the dialog stale.
I had trouble digesting the book like I do others as the plot was not advancing fast enough and the themes from the first book were present in the second but with a slightly more detailed approach: The inter-sibling incestuous love, the unrequited gay romance, the friendzone that Simon is in, vampires and werewolves and warlocks.
Valentine comes back and ooooh! they will barely organize themselves and only by the end of the book they will confront him! And it was really hard as Valentine summoned a Fear demon (sorry, THE fear demon) who was able to kill people why showing them what they most feared. And guess what? Jase feared for Clary’cause he loved his sister too! (Incestuous little SOB, kinda reminded me of Angel Sanctuary if you have seen the Anime/Manga).
The odd vibes came from Magnus and Alec’s relationship. They are in one and Alec is in love with Jace. Now why the hell would you be in a relationship with someone if your heart wasn’t in it?
Now, one of my friends pointed out that a 100 year old warlock is BOUND to be creepy. This is my point. In this story, I keep getting creepy perv vibes off of him. Now, I know the typical response “Magnus is really seventeen! He hasn’t mentally or physically aged a day!” This is nice, but it’s just impossible. After you’ve lived for that long, it’s just…preposterous that you would be able to just ignore everything you had to go through. He’s the high Warlock of Brooklyn, if I’m not mistaken, and he had to learn SOMETHING to get in that position.
Then we have Alec. Oh, Alec. Insecure, emo, closeted gay. Okay, this is cute, but what else? What makes Magnus attracted to him? What makes him attracted to Magnus? In this story, we’re shown their relationship.
“Mother.” Alec’s voice as he interrupted his mother was firm, implacable, and not unkind. “Father. There’s something I have to tell you.” He smiled at them. “I’m seeing someone.”
Robert Lightwood looked at his son with some exasperation. “Alec,” he said. “This is hardly the time.”
“Yes, it is. This is important. You see, I’m not just seeing anyone.” Words seemed to be pouring out of Alec in a torrent, while his parents looked on in confusion. Isabelle and Magnus were staring at him with expressions of nearly identical astonishment. “I’m seeing a Downworlder. In fact, I’m seeing a war—”
Magnus’s fingers moved, quick as a flash of light, in Alec’s direction. There was a faint shimmer in the air around Alec—his eyes rolled up—and he dropped to the floor, felled like a tree.
“Alec!” Maryse clapped her hand to her mouth. Isabelle, who had been standing closest to her brother, dropped down beside him. But Alec had already begun to stir, his eyelids fluttering open.
“Wha—what—why am I on the floor?”
“That’s a good question.” Isabelle glowered down at her brother. “What was that?”
“What was what?” Alec sat up, holding his head. A look of alarm crossed his face. “Wait— did I say anything? Before I passed out, I mean.”
The other characters in the book are not developed at all. Jace just constantly bosses Clary around, Clary is still stary-eyed after him and he is HER BROTHER!
Her own BROTHER wants her. As in, wants to mate with her. Wants to run away with her. Gross.
I’m no prude. In fact I am NOTHING if not open minded. But I’m sorry. No one fancies their own brother. No one.
I understand that they didn’t realise they were related until after the forbidden lust developed. But there is no goddamn way in Vegas that the two of them wouldn’t recoil from each other in utter repulsion upon making this discovery.
I’m no more inclined to accept this nonsense than I am to suddenly believe that I am Kate Moss.
Now before you get all Captain Obvious on me: I too can spot the hints that they may not actually be related in the afterall. This is not the effing point! The point is: THEY DON’T KNOW THAT!
Second, Clary has no character development and seems to be in a stupidity haze.
“Clary could see why they were called the Fair Folk, for they were fair indeed with their pale lovely faces, their wings of lilac and gold and blue—how could she have believed Jace that they meant to harm her.”
I was surprised that the story was even told from her point of view. She is rarely active. The entire novel, everything is happening to her, which can get vastly annoying. She isn’t as whiny as Jace, thankfully, and not nearly as much of a jackass. But she is just…a block of wood.
She had to be told FIVE TIMES not to touch the magical fairy drink that would keep her dancing forever. FIVE TIMES. You’d think that after that long living in such an unpredictable magical world, she would have gotten a little bit of common sense and thought “Oh God, maybe…just MAYBE…this isn’t a good idea! Maybe I should listen when people who have lived in this world their entire lives talk to me!”
While the blooming romance between Jace and Clary came to an abrupt and uncomfortable halt, Simon steps out of the shadows. With Jace out of his way, Simon decides to pursue his feelings for Clary. He’s always wanted to be more than just her friend and now is his chance.
Soon, Simon finds himself experiencing a major, and unexpected, life change – he becomes a vampire. Nothing will ever be the same for him. He is forever changed, as is his relationship with Clary and everyone he’s ever held dear.
Like Simon, Clary and Jace begin to discover changes within themselves. Valentine made it clear that they were “different”, but didn’t give any details. Little by little, they begin to figure out some of their unique abilities. Although it is early-on in this series, it is evident that they are powerful and their full strength is as of yet unknown.
Overall, I thought this was a great continuation of this series. I am enjoying these characters more and more as the story evolves. I don’t know what is in store for them, but am certain that we’ve not seen the last of Valentine yet.