City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments 2) by Cassandra Clare
The second book in The Mortal Instruments series is an improvement on the first: the characters are better developed, the plot is more interesting, and there is more dramatic tension.
The plot of City of Ashes focuses more on Valentine and his quest to obtain the different Mortal Instruments. It also deals with the aftermath of Clary and Jace discovering their sibling relationship, and how that affects their feelings for one another… which is weird and incesty and confusing. In addition, Clare leaves hints at the true nature of Jace’s heritage that keep the reader intrigued through the series, which makes it slightly less weird/incesty, but even more confusing.
Jace is more brooding, Clary is just as clueless, and Simon is still annoying, but Luke and Magnus’ awesome levels rise, and I found a softer spot for Alec. I did miss the presence of Isabelle, however, as she was not in as many scenes as in City of Bones.
Even though the City of Bones movie ruined it for me, Simon’s transformation was fun to read and a nice twist on the story, though the ending was a bit too convenient.
I was still bummed about the lack of Jocelyn in the book (she’s in a coma the entire time), and it bothered me even more that Clary rarely went to visit her mother in the hospital, leaving it up to Luke to do so. If my mom were in the hospital, I’d be there every day.
I also wasn’t a fan of Simon-Clary. It felt like she was just trying to use him to get over her conflicting feelings about Jace, and he just let it happen because he wanted her so badly… but then gets mad when her attention is easily thwarted by the presence of the latter. It just felt awkward and clumsy, and I didn’t buy it. There just wasn’t any chemistry, and honestly, half the time I don’t even buy their friendship, because Clary forgets about him so easily and treats him terribly.
Valentine’s character was also a bit more three dimensional, as his character started to shine through more and you could see how he so easily affected those around him. He’s creepy, but he’s kind of a badass.
I’d like to see more of Clary and Jace’s “special” abilities developed, and I really want to see Clary go through some shadowhunter training so she can be less useless in a battle (ugh) and Jace can stop calling her a mundane.