(Again, the cover zeroes in on a chest. This time it's Clary's chest. Does no one else find this weird?)
City of Ashes is the second book in the Mortal Instruments series, so there will be spoilers in this review for the first book, City of Bones. You've been warned.
City of Ashes opens with Jace being investigated and massive death and destruction in the City of Bones. A very harsh Inquisitor is investigating Jace because the Clave worries that Jace took the second Mortal Instrument, the Soul-Sword. Is Jace guilty? Did he help his father, Valentine, take the sword, which would still make him culpable? On top of the drama at the Institute, someone is killing NYC Downworlder children. Clary and Simon join up with the Shadowhunters to solve the mystery before any more Downworlder children die, and before Jace is locked up for a crime he may or may not have committed.
I was totally torn over this book. I loved most of the storyline, and I thought the pacing of the action was great. I listened to this book on CD, and even though it was much longer than some other books I've listened to recently it felt like it flew by. I also really liked how even though this is the second book in a six-book series, it didn't feel like a "bridge." It definitely had it's own conflict which developed and was resolved (for the most part). It's not a stand-alone; you'd want to have read City of Bones in order to understand how the characters fit together, but it didn't leave me hanging at the end. I appreciate that.
There is so much action in City of Ashes! A werewolf fight in a nightclub to a meeting with fairies to prison escapes... The reader never gets to sit still and catch their breath. I will say that Cassandra Clare did a great job of squeezing in a few feelings in between all the action, so that we can see relationships blossom between characters. But we never linger on feelings. The only down side is that in order to squeeze in those feelings, Ms. Clare did more telling than showing. As in, the characters state out loud or in their thoughts how they feel, instead of demonstrating those feelings. Oh well. Can't be perfect, and it's not terrible.
Ok, here's where I'm going to talk about the thing that I did NOT LIKE AT ALL about this book, and it's going to contain slight spoilers. You've been warned; don't read this paragraph if you must have the entire book be a surprise. Ready? Here goes: the sexiness. This is a teen book, so you know that I don't really want anything more than kissing anyway, then it gets weird. Jace and Clary. Brother and sister. Yes, half-brother and half-sister, but still! NO. Just no. The flirtation with incest just really, really, really bothered me. Then there's Alec and Magnus. I know that aging is really different in the Shadowhunter world, but there's decades of age difference in this couple! Alec is a teen and Magnus is centuries old. Up here in the real world this would be illegal as hell.
Done with spoilers. Ok, so because everything about this book was great outside of the things in the above paragraph, I'm giving it 3 of 5 stars. And I'm willing to give Book 3 in the series a chance.
*I received my copy of City of Ashes from my public library.