A good sequel is one that is not only as good as the first, but better. The second book in The Mortal Instruments series is definitely better than the first. Considering how much I liked the first, that’s saying a lot.
I’m going to try to write this without spoilers, so forgive me for being cryptic. You know that huge plot twist at the end of the first book? Well, let’s just say it really complicates the relationship between Clary & Jace all through this book. The tension between them is almost tangible. I love it!!! Now, there are enough clues throughout this book that I have an idea on how this little problem will work out, but not sure if my ideas are right yet.
Okay, on a less cryptic note…the action in this book is great! The Clave is suspicious of Jace now that they know of his history with Valentine. They send the Inquisitor to interrogate him, but Jace’s smart mouth lands him a night in jail in the City of Bones. While there, Valentine breaks in to steal the Mortal Sword, and the Inquisitor assumes Jace is in on it. It seems the only option he has is to go after the sword himself to prove his loyalty to the Clave. Of course, getting the sword form Valentine when he is surrounded by an army of demons is going to be tricky. Luckily, Clary has a new trick up her sleeve.
One thing I really liked in this book was how Clary and Simon’s relationship changes. They have been best friends since they were young children. I think many people will relate to the issue of taking a friendship into a romance and what to do if it doesn’t work out. In the end, I found Simon to be very mature. I was lukewarm about him before, but I am really starting to like him better. There is also a really interesting scene between Jace and Simon that occurs near the end of the story which was very touching.
Another relationship that I think was well handled was the one between Jace & Valentine. Jace’s entire world has been turned on its head and he is struggling to figure out where he fits anymore. The Lightwood’s and the Clave are treating him differently. The scene where Jace confronts Valentine in the middle of the night on the ship really showed the depth of each of their characters.
It sounds like I am focusing a lot on Jace, but really, most of the book revolves around Clary. She is upset that her mother is still in the hospital in a coma. We see a little more of Luke in this one and how fatherly he is toward her. Without him, I have no idea what she would do…live at the Institute maybe?
My only problem with this series is the way the author handles time. One scene it will be morning and before you know it, the sun is setting. It can give a reader whiplash. Also, the first book was about a month long in plot time and started in July. This book picks up a few days after the first ended. So if I’m following correctly, this should be August or September. However, they keep talking about how cold it is outside. They are wearing gloves and heavy jackets. At one point Clary mentions she can see the fog of her breath. This is New York City, not Alaska. She shouldn’t even need a jacket. Another thing, the idea of her going back to school is never mentioned. It’s like now that she is a Shadowhunter, she no longer needs to complete her education. Very weird.
Overall, I give City of Ashes…
Plot – 4 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 4 ½ bookmarks
World Building – 4 ½ bookmarks
Love Story – 4 bookmarks (The author does something gutsy with Jace & Clary that might put off some readers, but I am completely caught up in it.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Rachel Hurd-Wood (Clary), Alex Pettyfer (Jace), Luke Pasqualino (Simon), Zac Efron (Alec), Christopher Backus (Magnus Bane), Christian Serratos (Isabelle)
Just a note about the movie version that is in pre-production now. According to an article that I read dated January 20, 2011 and also on the IMDB website, Alex Pettyfer has signed on to play Jace. The role of Clary has gone to Lily Collins. So far, I’m not feeling her yet, but that might change.