Sunday, 22 September 2013

Book Review - City of Ashes

City of Ashes
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments #2
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy | Young Adult
Release Date: 7th July 2008
Publishers: Walker Children's
No. Pages: 411
Source: Purchased
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?
The following review may contain spoilers concerning earlier books in the series.
If you have not read the previous installments, please proceed with caution.

I didn't think it would be possible to love this book anymore than the first but I was pleasantly surprised. Right from the start this book left off from the first and the action leapt straight off the first few pages which made it by far much better than the first.

I much prefer the cover on this book than the previous. I feel that the blue's and faint whites go brilliantly against the redness of Clary's hair. It had a much more mysterious feel to it than the first, but also a more dangerous atmospheric style which I feel was much better than the first. Clary herself in the front I was a little disappointed that she was implied to be so slim, especially on her arms, but against the plot inside, the image matched perfectly with the few Marks she possesses, the similar length in hair and confident pose which was implied throughout to show how Clary is growing into her new talents and life. I insanely like the cover so much.

I thoroughly enjoyed the plot within this book, as even though it followed on from the first, it had it's own feel within it like it was a separate adventure from the first. As the plot grew, so did the amount of characters introduced, and I usually get easily irritated by large numbers of characters just appearing throughout series', but in this series, it seems each new character has a much more important role or is to become a larger character deeper into the series, which makes me extremely excited for the further books. Although the plot was centred around following up from the first, and helping bring down Valentine, the inner plot in this focused more on the different species coming together as one, along with all the characters.

I had many more characters that I enjoyed due to this, whether it was because the characters began to develop into someone I could relate more to or whether they were new. Throughout this book I really began to like Jace's character more than I had throughout the first. I enjoyed reading about how vulnerable and scared he was throughout the first 100 pages, which gave him a much more, pardon the pun, angelic side to him, making him look innocent and childlike within his warrior persona. Along with this change in his character's personality, his actions towards Clary surprised me so much throughout. He took on a very brotherly vole extremely quickly, and I was heavily shocked to see just how well the both he and Clary had taken the news of their suggestive similar DNA, and while a large number of reviews I had read mentioned they this book almost condoned the incestual romance, I really feel that it didn't and that it portrayed their feelings and their struggles so well that I really wanted them to overcome this problem. I also feel like I have to mention the absolutely terrible timing of other characters either entering scenes or dying before the true relationship between Jace, Clary and Valentine can be revealed, which is just personally frustrating to me now that I already know the truth. Another character who seemed to do nothing other than improve from the first was Luke. I genuinely love his relationship Clary and how he has such a fatherly instinct towards her, even though he isn't her Father. To take on the responsibility of any teenager would be a struggle in normal circumstances, but to take on an entially rogue teenager with some mental skills is something else entirely. Through his love for Jocelyn, he shows compassion and nothing but love towards Clary, and to fight for something or someone you love is nothing but everything I love. For as long as their are people worth fighting for, you fight, and that is exactly what Luke does. Simon is still an absolute favourite it this point, and I was highly distressed when Simon's circumstances change, but not once does his personality change. He is still the charismatic and humorous character he was in the first, if not more, and will stand by Clary through everything. I am extremely happy that he will be a continuous character through the series, as I think it would be a little bit duller without him.

New characters or characters that were featured a little more interestingly throughout this book that I really took to immediately were Maia, Max and Valentine. Maia was such a lovable character and after overcoming her initial reactions towards Simon, began to see him just as another person, as equal to herself, and I could tell near enough from the beginning that I loved her personality and shyness, and I really hope she features in more of the books further down the line. I was reminded of a character in another of Clare's books because of Max. His child ways and his persistence to be involved and help his family was so warming and heartfelt. His relationship with his siblings and Jace was something so innocent and beautiful that brought some light inside the book. I think he's the bond between the trio, Jace, Alec and Isabelle, and he's what they always strive to work for, his happiness and that shows a family who love each other dearly, which is lovely. I strangely began to like Valentine much more through this book, and I think his revengeful quality made him so intriguing. The characters language and general personality made him so dark and so interesting that I somehow really took to him and began to like him. No, I'm not evil, don't shoot me.

Another character that I enjoyed was less of a character and more of a message to the other characters and that was Agramon. The aspect of him being the Demon of Fear really gave an insight to what different characters feared the most and this gave a great vulnerability to them and made each of them almost relatable. I was almost quite upset when he was destroyed, as I felt he could have been a great weapon later in the series. I also think that Alec and Magnus need a mention because they are so caring and considerate of one another, and their relationship is portrayed in such a beautiful way that I just want to see them being very much a cute cute couple.

The writing style became much more prominent in this book as well compared to the first. I found that the scenes involving the the faeries were beautifully described and mesmerising, while the demon and fighting scenes were so amazingly written that it felt like, as a reader, I was with the characters every step of the way, alongside them, within the scenes. Writing styles like this make me want to wake up in their world and dream of it all night, and that's what Clare's does. I am so excited to read the following book in the series and am especially excited for the grand unveiling and for a well needed Mother/Daughter reunion between Clary and Jocelyn. And after hearing that City of Glass was originally the ending for the series, I'm expecting great things from it. Here's hoping it delivers.

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