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City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments (Quality)) (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Cassandra Clare

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6,267264640 (4.14)146
Member:melydia
Title:City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments (Quality))
Authors:Cassandra Clare
Info:Margaret K. McElderry Books (2009), Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Read and Released
Rating:****
Tags:mortal instruments, ya, fantasy

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City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (2008)

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Showing 1-5 of 259 (next | show all)
The second book of The Moral Instruments, "City of Ashes" continues Cassandra Clare's overall story right where the first book left off as well carrying over all the "meh" worthy characteristics presented in "City of Bones".

Clare begins her book with action from the beginning and sets the plot in motion, however everything then starts going downhill. The main characters Clary and Jace remain the same as when we first seem them in "City of Bone" only now with the added taboo sibling romantic love angle between them, which is beyond weird since both know about their familial relationship now. The weird sibling romantic angle isn't the only love connection that is just off the rails, Magnus and Alec is completely eye rolling for the simple fact that a 300+ year old warlock is hosting a 16 year old kid in his house a lot. Then there is the introductions of more Clave members, especially two adult women who unfortunately are some of the worst written characters of the book---Maryse Lightwood and Inquisitor Imogen Herondale. And that is just the beginning of all the frustrating things in this book that ended with another thud epilogue like "City of Bones".

The only thing that kept me continuing reading was the quick pace of the overall narrative, which allowed me to have an overall "meh" with the entire book. ( )
  mattries37315 | Dec 15, 2014 |
Spoilers: This review assumes you have read the previous book.

In City of Ashes we pick up with Valentine being his evil, egocentric self, calling greater demons as a warm up act rather then an encore; Sacrificing people, hurting his children with only a few words, creating days rife with mis-communication - in other words - the usual. Simon and Clary are dating, sort of, since Clary and Jace really shouldn't be dating each other, yet cannot seem to stop wishing they could. Their mother, meanwhile, still won't wake up from her coma, Luke is being a good pack leader and saving Jace from killing himself often. Simon meanwhile, has a strange preoccupation with blood...

But what is Valentine up to, for chrissakes? He's setting up the vampires for murder, gleefully dashing away in the last second, but for all this evil planning he's doing, it's been rather quiet for the Shadowhunters. The accords have been signed, everyone is happy, except Clary and Jace, and there isn't much going on except Magnus has comes to the junior Shadowhunters every beck and call, and would like them to stop calling about every scratch.

All in all, plot wise, the book is very much between major events, but we get enough tidbits about the major hooplah that will be happening at the end of the book that, the angst and drama between first page and last is more than enough. The perspective shifts often enough to keep it lively and keep us guessing, and great job on that, Clare, since we really should know better by now and we still don't know what anyone is going to do next!

My squabbles with this sequel were with lines here or there that could have been better, been more succinct. When someone serving Valentine guesses his plan he actually tells them they guess correctly, instead of smirking saying, 'perhaps' enigmatically. I'm starting to think that Count Olaf* is scarier than this guy. For the record, Count Olaf remains one of the scariest book villains I have ever read. He still really terrifies me. Even being played by Jim Carrey. Here's part of a dream sequence from relatively early in the book:
As she approached, the figure became suddenly clear, as if Clary had focused the lens of a camera. It was her mother, kneeling in the ruins of a half-built sand-castle. She wore the same white dress Valentine had put her in at Renwick's. In her hand was a twisted bit of driftwood, silvery from long exposure to salt and wind.
“Have you come to help me?” Her mother said, raising her head. Jocelyn's hair was undone and it blew free in the wind, making her look younger than she was. “There's so much to do and so little time.”
Clary swallowed against the hard lump in her throat, “Mom-- I've missed you, Mom.”
Jocelyn smiled. “I've missed you, too, honey. But I'm not gone, you know. I'm only sleeping.”
“Then how do I wake you up?” Clary cried, but her other was looking out to see, her face troubled. The sky had turned a twilight iron grey and the black clouds looked like heavy stones.
“Come here,” said Jocelyn, and when Clary came to her, she said, “Hold out your arm.”
Clary did. Jocelyn moved the driftwood over her skin. The touch stung like the burning of a stele, and left the same thick black line behind. The rune Jocelyn drew was a shape that Clary had never seen before, but he found it instinctively soothing to her eye. “What does this do?”
“It should protect you.” Clary's mother released her.
“Against what?”
Jocelyn didn't answer, just looked out toward the sea. Clary turned and saw that the ocean had drawn far out, leaving brackish piles of garbage, heaps of seaweed and flopping, desperate fish in its wake.
Now you might not see any beauty or a problem here, but they're almost the same thing. Clare's books are filled to the brim with beautiful details, even Kirkus says so, but that can easily become a hindrance. If you begin to over-tell your story, you risk leading your reader by the hand, throw them a curve ball and it goes from unrealistic to implausible.

Clary's mother for instance, looks out to sea, and in a grey sky atmosphere of coney island, a ruined sand-castle at her feet, we don't need to be told she's troubled. A tremble in her hand, a tremor in her voice, perhaps even a word or two to make clear her mother is actually working on that ruined sand-castle. I could get really particular and speak about the meaning of the words brackish and half-built, I could have given you more of the pages and said something about how there weren't clouds before, so that should actually be 'with clouds that looked like', and that this would probably all look much better and work better on screen.

Cassandra Clare has a fantastic eye for detail, practically cinematic in scope which she lets us see, but less is more, and she can end up bogging us down with the specific details of clothes and landscape. The whole point, I think, of using Coney Island is that we know its a derelict from the past, beautiful still, but so much is gone of its former glory.

And so we're clear, I don't want to re-write Clare's book, and I will continue reading the series because I cannot stop being entertained by the way her characters interact. I'm either sitting on the couch in mock-agony over Jace and Clary or I'm laughing about something Magnus has said. I do have a bone to pick about the fact that Magnus and Alec don't seem to have been doing more than holding hands while alone together. Possible, yes, but in this story it's a bit unlikely. Readers are justified in disliking her, but she's just too damn entertaining for me to stop and smell the problems.

How about you? Do you find the books aggravating? Is Clare's internalized misogyny so bad that you can't get into the story? Did her origins in Fan Fiction turn you off so much that you've never considered reading the Mortal Instruments? Or are you in love with Jace, Clary &co. and raring at the bit to tear me a new one? While I dislike the latter, I would like to hear your opinions. Also, does anyone else see Kristen Holden-Ried as Luke? I'm also a huge Dyson fan, so...

*Olaf is my favorite villain of all time. So I'm biased, of course.

NOTE: This review was written with awareness of Clare's past, because I made myself knowledgeable on that front before I read this. However, I did not make any comparisons using this book, and am not interested in going back to see if my favorite lines were in fact original. I am debating whether I will review or even read the next four books that I own.

411p. Walker Books. 2008. ( )
  knotbox | Dec 1, 2014 |
You know, I don't think I'm going to end up finishing this trilogy.

"Come on - three star review and not going to read the next one?"

Probably not, no.

There's nothing really wrong with the book, or the previous one. I picked them up because they were the big hyped YA thing at the time and I wanted something to potter through in German and figured pulpy, fun YA was the ticket. I think I've learned something important - if I'm not interested in reading it in Englishh, my enthusiasm for reading it isn't going to increase by reading it in German. Even if it's pulpy and easy. I need a story to drag me through it and, honestly, these books don't do that for me.

It's weird, I really love the world and the soapie-drama characters and plot is the sort of thing I can be tempted to jump on the bandwagon for. But not this one.

Jace and Clary are dealing with the aftermath of the "oh crap, we're siblings, we should probably put a hold on that crush we've been working on" situation, but they're finding that hard, and Clary hooks up with Simon who turns out to be a vampire and...

I just sort of didn't care. The world is fun, I love the shadowhunters as a concept. I don't mind Clary as a main character, I quite like Jace, it's just... they're a bit 2D or something? Motivations are slim on the ground and everyone acts emotional and irrational most of the time - even the adults! Fine for a soap, but doesn't give a book much depth.

It's YA, I do get that. I do get that the themes are all about emotions and relationships and simplified difficult concepts. This just misses the balance somehow. I didn't notice it so much in the first one but this one I really wasn't engaged with. I was never worried for any of the characters - there was no real threat that I noticed, even when Simon was "dead" on Valentine's boat. It was just sort of 'blah'.

It was easy enough to read and the world, again, is really fun. This installment just left me with very little to compel me to read the next one - even the hooks like the Inquisitor having some sort of epiphany about Jace just before she died and the mysterious stranger who is the only person who can help Clary wake up her mother.

I'm not sure if it's a pacing or characterisation depth problem, really. It could be either but the result is the same. Ok read, didn't mind doing it and enjoyed it in parts, but probably won't pick up the next one. ( )
1 vote heaven_star | Oct 20, 2014 |
You know, I don't think I'm going to end up finishing this trilogy.

"Come on - three star review and not going to read the next one?"

Probably not, no.

There's nothing really wrong with the book, or the previous one. I picked them up because they were the big hyped YA thing at the time and I wanted something to potter through in German and figured pulpy, fun YA was the ticket. I think I've learned something important - if I'm not interested in reading it in Englishh, my enthusiasm for reading it isn't going to increase by reading it in German. Even if it's pulpy and easy. I need a story to drag me through it and, honestly, these books don't do that for me.

It's weird, I really love the world and the soapie-drama characters and plot is the sort of thing I can be tempted to jump on the bandwagon for. But not this one.

Jace and Clary are dealing with the aftermath of the "oh crap, we're siblings, we should probably put a hold on that crush we've been working on" situation, but they're finding that hard, and Clary hooks up with Simon who turns out to be a vampire and...

I just sort of didn't care. The world is fun, I love the shadowhunters as a concept. I don't mind Clary as a main character, I quite like Jace, it's just... they're a bit 2D or something? Motivations are slim on the ground and everyone acts emotional and irrational most of the time - even the adults! Fine for a soap, but doesn't give a book much depth.

It's YA, I do get that. I do get that the themes are all about emotions and relationships and simplified difficult concepts. This just misses the balance somehow. I didn't notice it so much in the first one but this one I really wasn't engaged with. I was never worried for any of the characters - there was no real threat that I noticed, even when Simon was "dead" on Valentine's boat. It was just sort of 'blah'.

It was easy enough to read and the world, again, is really fun. This installment just left me with very little to compel me to read the next one - even the hooks like the Inquisitor having some sort of epiphany about Jace just before she died and the mysterious stranger who is the only person who can help Clary wake up her mother.

I'm not sure if it's a pacing or characterisation depth problem, really. It could be either but the result is the same. Ok read, didn't mind doing it and enjoyed it in parts, but probably won't pick up the next one. ( )
  heaven_star | Oct 20, 2014 |
You know, I don't think I'm going to end up finishing this trilogy.

"Come on - three star review and not going to read the next one?"

Probably not, no.

There's nothing really wrong with the book, or the previous one. I picked them up because they were the big hyped YA thing at the time and I wanted something to potter through in German and figured pulpy, fun YA was the ticket. I think I've learned something important - if I'm not interested in reading it in Englishh, my enthusiasm for reading it isn't going to increase by reading it in German. Even if it's pulpy and easy. I need a story to drag me through it and, honestly, these books don't do that for me.

It's weird, I really love the world and the soapie-drama characters and plot is the sort of thing I can be tempted to jump on the bandwagon for. But not this one.

Jace and Clary are dealing with the aftermath of the "oh crap, we're siblings, we should probably put a hold on that crush we've been working on" situation, but they're finding that hard, and Clary hooks up with Simon who turns out to be a vampire and...

I just sort of didn't care. The world is fun, I love the shadowhunters as a concept. I don't mind Clary as a main character, I quite like Jace, it's just... they're a bit 2D or something? Motivations are slim on the ground and everyone acts emotional and irrational most of the time - even the adults! Fine for a soap, but doesn't give a book much depth.

It's YA, I do get that. I do get that the themes are all about emotions and relationships and simplified difficult concepts. This just misses the balance somehow. I didn't notice it so much in the first one but this one I really wasn't engaged with. I was never worried for any of the characters - there was no real threat that I noticed, even when Simon was "dead" on Valentine's boat. It was just sort of 'blah'.

It was easy enough to read and the world, again, is really fun. This installment just left me with very little to compel me to read the next one - even the hooks like the Inquisitor having some sort of epiphany about Jace just before she died and the mysterious stranger who is the only person who can help Clary wake up her mother.

I'm not sure if it's a pacing or characterisation depth problem, really. It could be either but the result is the same. Ok read, didn't mind doing it and enjoyed it in parts, but probably won't pick up the next one. ( )
  heaven_star | Oct 20, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cassandra Clareprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moore, NatalieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
This Bitter Language

I know your streets, sweet city,
I know the demons and angels that flock
and roost in your boughs like birds.
I know you, river, as if you flowed through my heart.
I am your warrior daughter.
There are letters made of your body
as a fountain is made of water.
There are languages
of which you are the blueprint
and as we speak them
the city rises.
-Elka Cloke
Dedication
For my father, who is not evil. Well, maybe a little bit.
First words
The formidable glass-and-steel structure rose from its position on Front Street like a glittering needle threading the sky.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
A lot has changed since Clary has found her way into the shadowhunters' world. 
1) She and her friend Simon might be becoming more then just friends 
2) She might have feelings for her new-found brother Jace, and there is a big chance he feels the same way 
3) Valentine, an evil shadowhunter and her and Jace's father, is killing downworlders around New York, and Jace is still uncertain if he should join his father or not 
The story of The City of Bones continues in the sequel City of Ashes!!
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743572750, Audio CD)

Welcome back to the exotic world beyond the shadows...

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?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:49 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Sixteen-year-old Clary continues trying to make sense of the swiftly changing events and relationships in her life as she becomes further involved with the Shadowhunters and their pursuit of demons and discovers some terrifying truths about her parents, her brother Jace, and her boyfriend Simon.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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