Friday, July 3, 2015

City of Ashes Review

The second installment in the Mortal Instruments series, City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare is an emotional roller coaster from beginning to end.  Clare really amps up the drama by very deliberately putting the emotions and character arcs at the forefront of the story.  The love triangle between Clary, Jace and Simon is nicely balanced out by the reluctant relationship between Alec and Magnus.  Clare’s dialogue while at times inappropriately witty brings a refreshing tone to the teen drama along with elements of fantasy, action, and some serious emotion. 

            With the world of the Shadowhunters established in the first book, City of Ashes is able to take the emotional journey of the heroine, Clary Fray to a whole new level.  Thankfully this does not mean an overabundance of teen angst which is very overdone in most YA that’s out right now. 

            Clare is very smart in adding plot points in such a way that transitions and sequencing don’t suffer.  When Simon is made a vampire, it simultaneously drives Clary away and brings her closer.  This is such a delicate plot point that could destroy the credibility of the book all by itself since so much vampire material is out these days, but Clare really takes it and makes it less about Simon being a vampire and more about dealing with change.  In fact I think it’s safe to say that’s the theme of the book: dealing with change.    Another example of this is the journey Jace and Clary take after finding out they are brother and sister. 

            Jace starts out feeling abandoned and alone after getting kicked out of the institute by Maryse Lightwood, Isabelle and Alec’s mother.  As a result of the anger he feels at this, he decides to get into a fight with a werewolf pack.  This leads to the introduction of a new character, Maia, and the spark of a relationship between Jace and Luke.  Jace starts to look to Luke for a sort of fatherly support because he understands what Jace is going through with the revelation that Valentine is his father, Clary is his sister, and what that entails.  Luke is equipped to understand this battle Jace is waging within himself better than most because he loved Valentine too.  The first book was extremely focused on Clary this one splits the story a lot more with an additional focus on Jace.

            City of Ashes is a good next step in the Mortal Instruments story, cleverly plotting and building new characters and story.  Clare does an amazing job keeping the story going through this book and into the next.  Brilliantly done and an amazing read.