Even Stevens’s #CBR5 review #6 – City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare


City of Ashes is the second in Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, so there are spoilers ahead. I’d say consider yourself warned, but honestly I’m probably doing you a favor here anyway.

We pick up shortly after the events of the first book, Valentine has escaped and Jace is now under suspicion of being in cahoots with him.  Jace is to face The Inquisitor to prove or disprove his innonence, while suddenly important magical items go missing and several downworlders have been attacked or murdered. The group soon finds out that Valentine is responsible for all of these events and is attempting to create a demon army in order to basically take over the world.

Sigh. This book. I wanted to like this book. Clare took a few steps in the right direction by splitting up her narrative between different characters, probably in hopes that we would forget how damn boring Clary is.  The events in the first few chapters were actually pretty cool and kind of twisted, and I allowed my hopes to raise up a little bit. Well, that was pretty much all for nothing because Jace continues to be arrogant and perfect, Clary perfect and boring, and Simon is still just plain old annoying.  There’s a big chunk in the middle where not a whole hell of a lot happens and there are some extremely clunky and obvious HEY THIS IS A HINT I BET WE HEAR ABOUT THIS LATER moments. Among them, the fact that Clary and Jace probably aren’t related (because of course they’re not, my reaction to that revelation in the first one was “bullshiiiiiiit!”). Another thing that bugged: no one ever freakin dies. Listen, I don’t need my characters lined up for slaughter but when you have a huge battle and are epically outnumbered, the only logical conclusion is that someone fucking dies, alright?! Ahem, sorry.  Anyways, that only serves to take all the tension out of the story because you know damned well that everyone is magically going to be ok (sometimes literally).

I will probably read the third book (which was originally the end to the series, then a few more got tacked on) because I’m a masochist and want to know what happens anyway, but after that I’m done.  If you need a light, not-too-hard-on-the-brain read, this is definitely a serviceable series, but it’s not anything I’ll be raving about anytime soon.

Even Stevens’s #CBRV review #5: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare


15-year-old Clary Fray lives in New York City with her artist mother, and does just about everything with her best friend Simon. She has a normal life, or so she thinks. One night while out a club with Simon, Clary discovers the existence of shadow hunters, aka demon hunters, as well as the wide world of demons, downworlders (part demons), witches, warlocks and everything else she always thought was make believe. She is drawn into the shadow hunter world when her mother disappears and Clary finds the apartment torn to shreds and simultaneously comes face to face with a nasty demon. Jace, one of the shadow hunters, comes to her rescue and with the aid of Alec and Isabelle, a brother-sister shadow hunter duo, they attempt to hunt down Clary’s mother, while also investigating the rumor that Valentine, possibly the greatest villain the shadow hunter world, is not only alive, but trying to return to power and dominate the supernatural world once again.

This is a series that I had been resisting reading for awhile, mainly for two reasons: 1) That atrocious cover up there reminded me of a Twilight rip off and 2) it got endless comparisons to Twilight, which didn’t help dispel reason #1. I’m a big fan of YA literature, and just because it’s aimed at teens, doesn’t mean it has to be dumbed down. However, its continued popularity kept my attention, and when I saw it was being made into a movie my curiosity finally got the best of me.

On the whole, I would say that I enjoyed this book. Clare is good at writing action packed scenes and despite having a supernatural theme she kept it pretty grounded and believable.  It was a very quick read and kept my attention. However, I did have a few issues. First of all, Clary is a bit of a Mary Sue. Clary discovers this whole new world and at the beginning she is strong and sarcastic, which I loved, but as the book progresses she kind of fades into the background and basically becomes a mechanism for telling the story of the other characters. She wasn’t obnoxious or annoying, just sort of unremarkable for much of the book. It’s a shame too, because there’s glimpses of where she could be useful but then someone else saves the day (for those who have read it, I’m thinking of the roof scene and the last scene with Dorothea).  My other big issue with the book is that there’s a big reveal near the end of the book, one which I actually liked and found refreshingly different, that results in certain characters acting against the personas Clare has crafted for them throughout the book.

I liked the book well enough and hope that the series will build on itself and become stronger. I will give a little cheat and say that I’m already into book two and it is much more interesting thus far, so that’s a positive sign. If you’re a big supernatural/YA fan I say give it a go if you’re curious – it’s great for a light, enjoyable read.