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Don't Be Afraid of the Dork

Covered in dog hair, Obsessed with books, Wondering what it's all about. I suspect the answer is ice cream and the ocean.

City of Ashes  - Cassandra Clare

Format: Audio (cds from Library)

Narrated By: Natalie Moore

Original Publication Year: 2008

Genre(s): YA, Urban Fantasy

Series: The Mortal Instruments

Awards: None


After really enjoying the first in this series, City of Bones, I was somewhat unconsciously dreading picking up book two. Unconscious because I didn’t really realize I was avoiding it and because it’s weird. I’d go to the library and City of Ashes would pop into my head and before I knew it I’d be walking out of the library with a bunch of books that were not City of Ashes. Even once I finally checked out the cds from the library, I let them languish in my car awhile before starting. What the heck was going on? And then I realized it’s because I’ve been burned quite a lot lately with series that had a great start and then went horribly wrong. I really enjoyed City of Bones but by the end I could see the early scratching of some things that could turn out to be annoying. The final verdict? I didn’t really need to be worried – City of Ashes continued with many of the good things from book one and added some interesting plot twists. But I think that vague sense of worry about starting the next book in the series may even be a little stronger.


Clary now knows a lot of truths about herself. She knows that Valentine, the big bad, is her father, Jace, her crush, is her brother and turns out she is a shadow hunter by birth. She starts book two with a lot more knowledge about who she is and where she comes from but many other things in her life have been thrown up in the air in a jumble. Her mother is in a coma in the hospital, the guy she has a huge crush on is now her brother, and her best friend since childhood kinda wants to kiss her face off. And it kind of goes bonkers from there. The book centers around finding out what the big bad (Valentine) is up to and how to counter his machinations. Meanwhile more and more changes get flung at Clary. It’s a wild ride and for the most part its highly entertaining and a not too annoying melodrama.


There are a few things that really work for me in these books. The mythology is interesting and complex enough to provide endless possibilities for drama. Clary is a pretty decent female lead. She hovers between being too ultra competent for believability and completely useless so she comes across as a pretty realistically average girl dragged into big events. Most importantly, her relationships with the other characters are pretty reasonable for the most part. I love Jace. It struck me in this book that he is like a teenage Lymond (from Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles) – uber-competent and talented wearing a façade of cockiness and unconcern while underneath are wells of feeling and a cock-eyed sense of honor. Not nearly as complicated or mature as Lymond, of course, but the same general character type which I apparently love because I love Jace and Lymond. Finally I also like that we get other perspectives beyond Clary’s which I think was different then book one (though I could be wrong). I enjoyed getting in Jace and Simon’s heads and seeing the story from their perspective.


On the down side I left this book with the same and perhaps even enhanced concern that future additions to the series are going to let me down. There were a few things that got me worrying. While Clary is still on the plus side of the equation she had a few glaring TSTL (too stupid to live) moments and I’m a little worried she will not remain likeable. I didn’t love some of the things done with Jace who at times is very out of character turning into a sad and too needy puppy dog around Clary. I envision him being pretty much completely in control of himself and nonchalant, only revealing his true feelings obtusely or pretty rarely. I certainly don’t envision him begging Clary to love him and being confused at why Clary thinks incest is sickening. Seriously. He doesn’t have any qualms about incest or even recognize that it is not an acceptable social norm? Interesting choice for the character. And then there is just some general sloppiness. There are continuity errors in a couple scenes (Magnus’ excuse for not helping Clary and Jace fight the round demons because he was busy helping Luke inside, when Luke was who Clary and Jace were in the process of rescuing; a jacket in the final battle that can’t decide who its wearer is - Jace or Clary). I was kind of jazzed that a potential new romantic interest was introduced for Simon but nothing much was done with it until out of the blue ,in one of the final scenes, it’s suddenly common knowledge that Maya has a crush on Simon.


Even with some worrying weaknesses, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fly through this book and enjoy roughly 90% of it. A fun urban paranormal YA series that, concern or not, I will be continuing with. It’s an addictive thrill ride.


Final note: The Narration by Natalie Moore was pretty decent. No major complaints.