Title: “City of Ashes”
Author: Cassandra Clare
Pages (hardcover): 453 pages
Original Publishing Date: 25 March 2008
Synopsis (from the inside flap):
“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?”
Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:
- character death
- incest (?)
- internalized misogyny
Representation in the novel:
- gay rep (side character)
- Asian rep (side character)
- biracial rep (side character)
Ya know, I thought City of Bones was supposed to be the worst book out of the series, but I guess I forgot how bad this one was. I mean, it was still fun-ish to read, and it was kind of fast-paced. But, wow, I think I liked this less than the first one.
I think the biggest issue was the characterization. Clary, the innocent/ignorant girl who was thrust into an unknown world. Jace, the forbidden love who’s “coincidentally” an asshole. Simon, the friend-to-lover who also feels entitled to everything. Valentine, the He Who Must Not Be Named evil-doer. Like. There was nothing exciting or unique about anyone. They were all flat; no one had depth. Everything was black and white.
Also, my goodness, the little incest-y side plot wasn’t fun at all. I already know how it ends, but still, it’s really annoying. I’m all for the “forbidden love” trope, but uh, this isn’t the way to do it. It would have been a-okay if just Jace or Clary was Valentine’s kid. That would have worked just fine. But nope, we have this over-the-top mess.
I know I said it was kind of fast-paced, but I’m putting emphasis on the “kind of.” In terms of how many exciting things happening in this book, there wasn’t much. I suppose it was similar pacing to City of Bones, but to me, it didn’t feel as action-filled. Meh.
I already talked about how flat the characters are, but I want to go back to Valentine because I had the biggest issue with him. He is so much a stereotypical “I’m going to talk your ear off” villain, and those kind of bad guys are just…annoying to me. And his motivations to get rid of the Clave are one-dimensional through and through. Wow, you wanna get rid of the governing body because it would be better for the world, like how you tried 20 years ago? Wow, I haven’t heard that one before. I just really hate his character. Almost as much as I dislike Simon’s.
So, yeah, it was still an alright read, but much like City of Bones, it’s pretty lackluster, and the writing could have been a lot better. And the characters are kind of one-dimensional. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯