Friday, August 9, 2013

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
464 pages

City of Ashes is the second installment of The Mortal Instruments series for young adults. The book is very long and tedious.

The book continues right after the events of the first book. Clary is staying at Luke's house while her mother is still in a coma. Jace has been thrown in prison by the Inquisitor, who works for the Shadowhunter government called The Clave, for suspicions of working with Valentine. Clary, Isabelle and Alec go to the Silent City to free Jace where they discover that the powerful Silent Brothers are dead and the Mortal Sword has been stolen.

Jace tells his friends that Valentine stole the sword. They visit the Seelie Court and make an arrangement with the fairies to help defeat Valentine. The Queen of the Seelie Court humiliates Jace, Clary and Simon by forcing Clary to kiss the one she desires to be freed from a spell, and it turns out to be her brother Jace.

Simon gets killed after a desperate visit to Hotel Dumont to reverse the side effects from the vampire blood he ingested as a rat in the first book. Raphael, Clary, and Jace watch as Simon transforms into a vampire. Meanwhile Valentine has been murdering Downworlders to complete a ritual with the sword that would enable him to control the entire demon population.

Valentine eventually captures Simon to use as a vampire sacrifice in the ritual. Clary and Jace go to the ship where Valentine is hiding out and a great battle between Shadowhunters and Demons breaks out. There are several casualties, but all the main characters survive. Clary learns that she has special strength and ability with her runes and destroys Valentine's entire ship. Simon turns into a daytime vampire after Jace lets him drink his blood to revive him. While Clary is wrestling with her feelings for Jace and recovering from the showdown with her father, she meets a mystery woman who tells her that she knows how to wake her mother from the coma.

The story ends with questions such as what will happen now that Valentine has control of the demon world? When will Clary's mother wake up? and what will happen to Clary's relationships with Simon and Jace?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
512 pages

City of Bones is the first novel in The Mortal Instruments series. Though the series is not very original and reads like a soap opera, it is an interesting young adult fantasy world. The book is about a 15 year girl named Clary Fray who discovers that her life isn't ordinary after witnessing a murder at a New York nightclub.

After Clary talks about the crime with her best friend Simon at a coffee shop she sees the blond haired boy Jace who committed the act. Jace tells her that he killed a demon and that he is a Shadowhunter, a descendant of the angel Raziel. Clary's mother calls and sends her a frantic message telling her not to come home. When Clary does go home she finds her apartment destroyed and her mother is missing. Clary is then attacked by a demon.

Though Clary survives the attack she is infected with deadly poison. Jace arrives and takes her to the Institute, a secret Shadowhunter lodge disguised as a rundown church. Clary is cured and meets Jace's adoptive brother and sister, Alec and Isabelle Lightwood. She also learns about the Shadowhunter lifestyle, and the Mortal Cup, a powerful angel instrument that an evil Shadowhunter named Valentine wants to use to create more Shadowhunters and kill all the "Downworlders" i.e.  vampires, werewolves, etc.

Clary finds out that her memories have been blocked, by her mother's orders so that she would never know she was a Shadowhunter. She goes to the Silent Brothers with Jace to see if they can retrieve her memories so that she can find her mother, but the Brothers are unable to help because the block is too strong. Clary has find the warlock who put the blocks in her memory to remove it.

Jace, Isabelle, Alec, Clary and Simon attend the "High Warlock of Brooklyn" Magnus Bane's party after they figure out he's responsible for the blocks. He tells Clary why her mother gave her restricted her memory and that the spells will fade naturally, but are too difficult to remove. Simon drinks a liquid that turns him into a rat and he is subsequently kidnapped by vampires. Jace and Clary go on a dangerous rescue mission to the vampire lair, but are able to save Simon.
While drawing a picture of a cup at the Institute, Clary learns of her special power to hide objects inside paper and deduces that her mother hid the Mortal Cup in a tarot card at Madame Dorothea. Jace, Isabelle, Alec, and Clary go back to Clary's house to talk to her downstairs neighbor. They are suddenly attacked by Madame Dorothea who has been possessed by a greater demon. They defeat the demon and escape with the Cup.

A betrayal at the Institute leads to Valentine getting the Mortal Cup and a showdown between the werewolves of Clary's father figure Luke's clan and Valentine's henchmen, Forsaken. By the time the battle is over Valentine escapes through a portal while Jace and Clary believe they are brother and sister because Valentine is revealed to be Clary's true biological father. Jace  believes that Valentine is his father based on his memories and what Valentine told him.

At the end of the novel, Clary visits her mother who is in a coma at the hospital and vows to find out how to wake her. Jace and Clary feel awkward around each other, but know they must work together to find Valentine and stop him from using the Mortal Cup.

The book would have benefited from a stricter, linear focus. Several chapters, including the Silent Brother trip and the Simon-vampire kidnapping, were irrelevant to the plot as a whole despite the fact that these storylines continue in the next book, City of Ashes.