Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Those Who Live in Glass Houses...

This review WILL hold spoilers for the first two books in the series. Frankly there's too much that happens in them for it not to. If you have not read them (City of Bones, City of Ashes), 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 Glass.

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

City of Glass
~City of Glass~
The Mortal Instruments
Book 3
By Cassandra Clare
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Clary is on a mission. She knows she's got to get to the Glass City and find a warlock who can break the spell her mom's under. She's just got one problem: getting into the Glass City is illegal unless they're expecting you.

Make that two problems: Jace doesn't want her to go. He thinks it's too dangerous for her to be there, especially with the Clave's interest in what happened on Valentine's ship. Jace is determined to protect her, even if it means lying to her to do so.

Um, make that three problems: Simon is held prisoner by the Clave. After accidentally getting dragged into the Glass City, the Clave takes a particular interest in his Daywalking abilities. A vampire who can withstand sunlight is a peculiar anomaly, and that he gained this ability after dealing with Valentine makes him doubly suspicious.

And, speaking of Valentine, add him to her list of problems. It appears that with two of the Mortal Instruments in his grasp, he's determined to have the third, even if it means a full-scale assault on the Glass City! Are the Shadowhunters strong enough to stand up against Valentine and his army of demons? Or can they put aside their differences and call on Downworlders for help? Would the Downworlders even answer their call?

Clary's determined to face all these problems head on, with or without Jace's help. Luckily, she's not short on the help of friends, especially the charming new Shadowhunter, Sebastian. But even so, she'd much rather have Jace's help. But can she convince him to work with her, even if they can't be together? Or must she face her tasks alone...

Okay, I've finally given up on Clary/Simon. I mean, what else can I do? Simon gave up on it at the end of the last book, deciding he would be better off just being Clary's friend, even though he'd love to be more. And, I guess, I'd rather he be happy that way than chasing after fickle Miss Clary.

Yeah, Clary isn't my favorite character. I don't hate her—well, not anymore. She's still annoying at times, but she finally stopped whining long enough to start being kick-ass. And there are a few times she actually stands up for herself! If City of Bones was her initiation, then City of Glass is her journey toward true heroine. This book is really where her character grows and changes, whereas City of Ashes offered no change at all—almost like she was stuck in shock the entire book. This is where she finally comes out to shine.

Jace, on the other hand, was much more stunted in his growth until the end. Very little of the book is told from his perspective, so it's harder to get a handle on him as the plot moves along. Once again, I found him extremely mopey and angst-ridden, but he did have a couple of shining moments (again, toward the end). He is probably my least favorite character of the series. He's closed off and sarcastic in anyone else's POV, and then he's completely angsty when in his own POV. I'm not saying I don't understand why, but I definitely didn't find it endearing.

The other characters develop a lot more in this book. Isabelle, Alec, Magnus, and especially Simon really get a chance to say their piece and display who they are, something which I thought was lacking in the two previous books, where the focus was almost solely on Clary and Jace. Each character is finally given a chance to voice their own goals and fears, making them more human and less side-kicks. It was a very pleasant change.

While there was still a lot of Clary/Jace drama in this one (much to my initial horror), it (thankfully) is not the main focus. In fact, there is a lot of racial and political commentary here, which I found fascinating and thought-provoking. If this weren't the third book in a series, I would definitely recommend it to book clubs interested in discussing the racial profiling of Downworlders or the old-school traditions of the Clave and exclusion of the youth's opinions/ideas.

Ultimately, I found this installment immensely more impactful and entertaining than the previous. It has a lot of action mixed together with character growth, insightful commentary, and a dash of love drama. The pacing is perfect—I was never once bored—though, Clare has certainly mastered the art of dramatic suspense (character turns the corner—eyes widen—...—switch to different scene!). It definitely restored my interest in the series, and I'm looking forward to the continuation next year!

Approximate Reading Time: 7.5 Hours