Thursday, June 14, 2012

City of Ashes - a review (kind of)

City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments #2)
Cassandra Clare
464 pages

I'm going to go ahead and spout this out real quick: your two main characters (Jace and Clary) are both Shadowhunters (angels who kill demons) who might be brother and sister and are in love. The bad guy (Valentine) is their father. The secret subtitle to this book is It's a Jerry Springer Christmas.

There's also a secret homosexual warlock relationship. More flying motorcycles. Invisible buildings. Monsters. Etc. It gets more odd than that, though.

Everyone is related. Through demon blood, through adoption, through DNA; everyone is family. If you're not related you're linked by magic. Not only that: everyone is attractive. Everyone! There's not a single ugly person in this book. It must--excuse this lame joke--run in the family.

We've also got a bad guy that's logical. Valentine is logical. I found myself wondering the entire book why he was the bad guy. Let's get a list going of things Valentine wants to do:
  1. Destroy all demons.
  2. Protect the Earth by turning all humans into Shadowhunters.
  3. Stop his kids from banging.
WHY IS HE THE VILLAIN!? Why!? There's all these Hell Dimensions filled with monsters getting ready to spill over into Earth and all Valentine wants to do is create more demon fighting guys! Sure, he wants to destroy Idris (Home of the Shadowhunters) but those guys are assholes. And sure, he also wants to kill a few "people" (werewolves and vampires) to get the job completely done, but let's take note of what those demons do throughout the book:
  1. Vampires attack and eat someone.
  2. Werewolves attack and eat someone.
  3. Fairies make people dance to death.
There's an argument to be made for Valentine's plan. If the Shadowhunters aren't going to do something, then damnit he's going rogue and getting the job done.* I kind of admire that. I admire the bad guy. He's compelling. That's a good thing. What makes the best villain is the one that thinks he's right.

Once again I'm surprised by Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments. The books are--and I say this without hesitation--ultra easy to read and painfully cheesy. It works, though. Clare doesn't try hard to make her  Mortal Instruments serious. Her characters throw out one-liners and crack jokes, they reference movies and towards the end of the book there's an argument about Harry Potter

It's all so light and fluffy and eww and haha at the same time. I can't recommend it enough. It just fucking works.

*I'm almost inclined to believe that Valentine is George W. Bush and this entire book is an analogy for the Iraq war.


  1. Lordy, I just looked at her web site and there are about to be six of these books. They can't possibly be as entertaining as this review.

    1. I would like to think they will be. I feel like I'm allowed to quit a long series if it gets too boring or repetitive.

  2. Never read anything as entertaining as these books. Except for Oscar Wilde but that's another story (oh, and don't stop reading: later on in the series there is a character based on Mr Wilde himself. How awesome is that?)

    I admit you've got a point, but Valentine's evilness becomes a little more obvious in the next book when he decides to kill his kids and pretty much everyone else. Also the secret warlock relationship develops a lot, and pss, the gay warlock is in fact bisexual. Gasp and shock. This book is pure awesomeness.

    1. It would have been more of a shock had you not told me all of that.

  3. Your review makes me want to check this series out.

    1. You should at least check out the first book. It's entertaining to say the least.

    Sometimes books like this are so perfectly what you need, ya know? Also, I LOVE THE COVER OF THIS ONE with that fiery hair against the dark background. But mostly, I LOVE MAGNUS! AND SIMON! And the way you can just read it without having to think too hard. Love love love!!!

    (I used allcaps and !!! for emphasis.)

    Reading this makes me want to re-read the first three before I go any further, honestly. That's pretty exciting to me.

    1. YES! I want to re-read these too. I wish I owned them, instead of checking them out from the library. Magnus! Simon! Have you read the Infernal Devices series - starts with Clockwork Angel? MAGNUS! is in there too.

    2. Hey Lauren, I got really lucky to find these all used for 75 cents for the first three MI books and I bought a hardback of Clockwork Angel for $1.99. I haven't read past City of Glass because I don't like cliffhangers and I heard Cassie Clare makes #4 and #5 almost unbearable, and the same with Clockwork Prince. I really throw things and it isn't pretty. So if it is a huge cliffhanger, I'd rather wait and read them all at once. I'll devour them like a madwoman when I finally get to them though. Clockwork Prince is about to drive me crazy and I would love a good Magnus fix. When I finally do read #4 and beyond, I'll just start over because I think they're pretty quick to get through.

    3. I enjoy the quirkiness and the simplicity of it. It's not an insult. It's actually quite hard to make a simple and effortless read without it being really, really dumb. But Clare pulls it off so well.

    4. Asheley, Great finds! And good idea to look at used book sales. Yeah she does like those cliffhangers. Though I thought the end of #5 CoLS was easier to take than #4 CoFA. It's just so hard to hold myself back from reading them! Since she's writing both series, it takes them longer to release. I love the Clockwork series, but the end of CP was definitely killer, so good idea to wait. It's one of the few love triangles where I have NO IDEA who she will or should pick.

      Did you know that she signed a third Shadowhunter series? I forget the title, but it takes place in LA about 5 years after the end of The Mortal Instruments series. She's like a machine.

  5. Hmmm. I guess if you’re a “for the greater good of humans” kind of person, Valentine as leader might make sense. Though I don’t remember him liking them all that much either. Also, if you’re totally against all supernatural beings. But not all werewolves, vampires, warlocks or Shadowhunters are evil in Cassie’s world (faeries are debatable…). And humans can be cannibals too (just check out recent news stories). So should they all be killed?

    I honestly don’t remember what Valentine’s final objective was. But I do remember that he goes quite a bit over what should be acceptable “for the greater good” (at least in my opinion, and his actions get worse in book 3). I mean just look what he’s done to people in his family: Drug and imprison his ex-wife? Check. Beat his son throughout childhood? Check. Attempt to murder his daughter’s best friend? Check.

    I do think that the best villains have grey in them. It makes them more believable (and frightening). And I like when writers cause me to sympathize with them – the story becomes more complex than reading about a mustache twirling bad guy. Valentine in particular has that cult leader quality: he’s good at making people believe in what he’s doing. So it looks like he’s succeeding there. I’m interested to see if your opinion changes of him after the next book.

    Your assessment is as usual, amusing. And perceptive as well – especially, for what you know so far. I like that you think for yourself instead of following what the main characters believe (which is essentially what I did, though it's hard to go back and think about this book without knowing what's coming). I think you should tweet your review to the author. I bet she’d enjoy it too.

    PS. I was worried that what you were "missing" in the story was going to be something crazy like - what's the big deal about Jace and Clary being together? So what if they're related! Okay, not really.

    1. I am all for the greater good of humans. I'm not worried about werewolves or vampires. Just humans. Maybe some humans need to be taken out... maybe.

      Ahh. I get to play devil's advocate. We actually find out at the end of the book that Clary's mother drugged herself to keep Valentine from getting information from her (remember?). I can't explain the child beatings, but! His attempt to murder his daughter's best friend: I don't like Simon.

      Oh absolutely. Magneto? He's one of the best villains because his "destroy all humans" is for a fairly good reason. He wants to prevent mutant kind from being wiped out by killing all the humans first.

      Thank you. Honestly, sometimes I get a main character and I bring them (in my head) out into the real world to see how they react. Clary gets hit by a bus crossing the street because she never looks both ways. But Valentine? He ends up running a fortune 500 company.

      I am wary about attracting attention from authors. I'm not anybody special, so they shouldn't put stock in my opinion.

      PS. Nope. Just the whole "Why is Valentine the bad guy?" thing.

  6. I am wary about attracting attention from authors. I'm not anybody special, so they shouldn't put stock in my opinion.

    Add this to the list of why I follow you, Adam.

    1. Wahoo! Being humble is finally paying off.

      Now if only my honesty got me into less trouble.

  7. Oops. I guess I should be re-reading these books before I comment, because I'm fuzzy on the plot. But he still kidnapped her, didn't he? That's not cool. Is your prejudice towards other supernatural beings just within this series, or is it a general belief?

    What's wrong with Simon? He's the most normal of the lot (or he was). Did you also not like him before?

    Although they may write good books, the internet makes authors so much more accessible. Cassie is one of the most responsive to her fans. Plus we are all readers (whether you are an official 'reviewer' or not). I don't see how one person's opinion should matter more than another. But I totally get your feelings on not wanting to call attention to yourself.

    Hopefully, Valentine and his company got taken out in the financial crisis.

    Did you know that this series supposedly started off as Harry Potter fan fiction? That's the rumor anyway.

    I just had to look up who Magneto is.

    1. He did kidnap her but... it's been a while. She got rescued. I believe. I'm against all of them except for unicorns. Out of principle. Most of those creatures eat people.

      Let me put it this way: Simon kind of forces a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship onto Clary. Or it seems that way when I read it. They don't discuss being in a relationship, he just says they are. His pining for her in the first book drove me insane, and his jealousy did the same for me in the second book.

      Thank you for understanding! I'm sure she's great and I can't wait to read the next book. I just make fun of her books more than I should, and wouldn't want there to be any hard feelings.

      I would be interested to know if that were true or not.

      Nerd fail on your part. He's one of the most powerful mutants ever.

    2. Yeah, but I think Clary's equally to blame. She shouldn't have let her self be in a 'relationship' with him. Feeling sorry for someone (and not being able to have the one you want) does not a lasting relationship make.

      Ok about the HP thing. I know that Clare wrote fan fiction and she had a Draco Trilogy. Apparently it has some similarities to City of Bones. However, I haven't read it (I'm not sure it's even accessible), which means I can't really comment on whether it's true or not. But if you're interested, you can read some people's (strong) opinions of the similarities in the reviews of CoB on Goodreads (Draco is Jace, Ginny is Clary, V is V etc.).

  8. I like your review as something that amuses me far more then the books. As I said in comments on your F*ck friday i really couldn't get into book 3. The first book wasn't bad but the 2nd one stopped me from reading more. Clare is very open to fans writing to her and replying that is for sure...but I still can't read this series anymore...Thanks for your funny review though :)

    1. Thanks Mel. I heard a lot of people saying that they stopped reading after book two or three. It has me really curious now.

  9. This review had me laughing out loud and getting several strange looks from the people around me. I especially loved your comment about George W. Bush and the book being an analogy for the Iraq war. Great stuff!


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