I feel like I should preface this review by saying that I went into this book with rather low expectations. I read City of Bones, the first book in the ‘Mortal Instruments’ series, last year and wasn’t at all impressed, giving it only two point five stars compared to my friends’ consistently high reviews. Had my mum not bought the first two books together I probably would have left it there, but I had City of Ashes sat on my shelves so I decided to carry on. To my surprise, I actually liked this second instalment of the series a lot better.
I still don’t entirely get what all of the hype surrounding this series is about, but I do think that the world-building and mythology of the Shadowhunters is creative and exciting. It has that quality about it which allows you to imagine yourself as a part of the world, and as a result it has gained a loyal following thanks to its entertainment value. One of the most engaging parts of this book was the originality of Clare’s vampire transformations. Don’t worry; I won’t spoil who it is that changes – although I imagine that most people know by now! – but I loved the fact that it was completely unique and unlike anything I’d read before.
Luke is consistently one of my favourite characters in this series, even more so than the teenagers. Yes, even the tragically lovable Simon or the straight talking Magnus can’t sway me from my decision! I like books that have complex adult characters that are in on what the kids are up to, rather than just being kept in the dark like they so often are in YA literature. The slow development of Luke’s backstory and his relationship with Clary’s mother is the most believable relationship in the series so far, and I’m actually more invested in the two of them getting together than I am the kids at this stage.
Jace continued to annoy me in this book. The number of times he said or did something stupid and self-destructive was utterly outlandish! As my dad would say: that boy needs a good slap. Honestly, he’s in desperate need of an attitude adjustment because, as funny as his sarcastic comments are to read, he’s not helping himself get out of the tricky situation he’s found himself in. I’m hoping that this is a conscious decision by Clare, so that as the books progress he undergoes some character development. Maybe then I’ll like him for something more than his witty one-liners.
I also was not a fan of the incestuous romance plot that was a huge part of the book. I know that there are numerous references to the fact that Clary and Jace are not actually related, but I’m sorry: they don’t know that! And even if there is the slightest chance that they could be brother and sister, the idea of making out with a sibling should fill them with disgust, surely? And while we’re on the subject, the idea of the two of them having been lied to about being related is so obvious I don’t see how it could be considered a plot twist. You know what; let’s just clear this up right now by sticking them on the Jeremy Kyle Show and ordering a DNA test. Sorted.
As I’ve said previously, I liked City of Ashes more than the first book, so I’m happily giving it a higher rating of three stars. I will now be continuing the series, although I still don’t think it could ever be one of my favourites; (that honour remains firmly with Percy Jackson and Game of Thrones!)