Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ashes to Ashes

This review WILL hold spoilers for the first book in the series. Frankly there's too much that happens in the first book for it not to. If you have not read the first book (City of Bones), and you are still planning on it, I suggest you not read this review.

This review will NOT, however, hold plot spoilers about City of Ashes. 

Well, if you are certain you want to continue...

City of Ashes
~City of Ashes~
The Mortal Instruments
Book 2
By Cassandra Clare
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Clary has a lot on her plate now. Not only is her mom in a magical coma, her father an evil megalomaniac, and her entire past a lie, but the first guy she truly fell in love with turned out to be her brother. And let's just say she's not handling it as swimmingly as they did in Star Wars.

Jace isn't happy with the sibling situation either. He's also having a hard time coping with his father's betrayal. And to make matters worse, the Clave and his adoptive parents question Jace's loyalty. Without his teachers and parents' trust, where else is he to turn?

But personal problems will have to wait when young Downworlders start showing up completely drained of blood. If the vampires aren't to blame, what could the purpose be? And could it have something to do with the theft of the second Mortal Instrument, the Soul-Sword? Clary, Jace and their friends may have to break some rules if they're going to get to the bottom of this mystery, and this time, there's no turning back...

I have a couple things I need to get off my chest. First of all, I'm a HUGE Simon fan. If there are teams for this series, I'd be Team Simon 100%. He's sweet, funny, brave, fairly selfless, loyal...what the hell else is there to want? I loved him in the first book, and I loved him in this book. No matter what he goes through, no matter what's happening around him, he's there for his friends. And he doesn't complain!

Going along with this, I was never a Clary/Jace fan. That's right, I was happy it turned out they were siblings. That being said, the main plotline where they're trying to figure out 'how to cope' with their feelings for each other got old real fast. If they want to slough off society and go on being a couple, just do it! If they want to accept that they're 'off limits' to each other, then move on! Taking the ENTIRE BOOK to reach a decision was maddening! But then, I guess it's 'teen drama' and I've just got to accept that that's how it is in YA.

Romance on the whole seemed to be extremely out-of-whack in this book. I don't think anyone's relationships were working well. Now, I could handle it some of the time, you know, with small snippets here and there. But the entire book played out like a soap opera. I've read dysfunctional relationship books before, but I don't think I've ever come across anything as saturated as this.

As far as characters go, Clary seemed to take two steps back from where she was in City of Bones. Sure, she knows more, and she finally picks up a stele or a blade in fights, but it seems like she's whining the whole time. Oh no, Jace is my brother! Oh no, Simon's suspicious of me and Jace! Oh no, I can't do anything right! UGH!!! I swear, she made Bella Swan sound happy-go-lucky.

And Jace! Oi, what an ass! If he wasn't picking a fight with werewolves he was moping around feeling sorry for himself. Yeah, I guess he has a right to feel a bit angsty with his family issues, but there never seemed to be any movement! He just had settings throughout the book: fighting, picking a fight, or woe-is-me.

Frankly, if I didn't have the next book sitting right here, I'd be more than willing to stop the series here. This book frustrated me, bored me, and outright pissed me off. Sure, I guess you could make the argument that I'm angry because I care. But right now, having finished it not half an hour ago, I'm ready to throw this book across the room.


All that being said, I thought the writing style improved. Though the POV changes were much more frequent than in City of Bones, they seemed deliberate and essential to forwarding the plot. I'd still prefer to have it consistently in Clary & Jace's POVs, but I can see where some of the scenes would be difficult to portray without switching to minor characters.

I was more compelled to read this time. The pacing is consistent, and there's enough intrigue dangling out in front of you that you want to continue. Even if it means wading through the drama. The tension is very well incorporated, holding out all the way to the end...which ends in a cliff-hanger. Eh, that may be a spoiler, but it's also a warning. I hate cliff-hangers (another reason I was ready to toss the book), but since I have the next one here, it's not so bad.

Ultimately, if you were a fan of the first book you'll probably be continuing. It has A LOT of teen relationship drama and teen angst, but if you're a teen, or you're prepared to read YA, you should be able to get through it and onto the next one.

Approximate Reading Time: 6.5 Hours