City of Ashes

City of Ashes - Cassandra Clare Rating Clarification: 2.5 stars

I went into 'City of Ashes', the second book in the 'Mortal Instruments' series not quite sure what to expect. Sure the first book of the series had failed to leave much of an impression on me other than my feelings of being underwhelmed, but even I can see that the series does have some potential. After finishing this book, I am forced to admit, with much dismay that I am still left feeling underwhelmed. While some aspects did show some improvement for me, by the end it kinda dragged a bit. Mostly because not only did the characters fail to evolve satisfyingly, but the plot itself didn't move forwards like I was hoping. Classic case of when a book just doesn't meet your previous expectations.

City of Ashes picks up right where 'City of Bones' left off, Clary must come to grips with all that was hidden from her all her life: First, she was born a Shadowhunter; a demon-slayer and second, that she is the daughter of the most evil Shadowhunter alive; Valentine. I was all geared up for the Clave to finally start training Clary properly in this volume, but much to my disappointment it seems this has still not occurred to any of the characters, or the author...for reasons unknown. Clary has some pretty incredible gifts, but she seems to just know how to use them when the time comes, without being taught. I don't know it just felt like a huge cop-out to the very least an opportunity wasted.

The plot is another area that I felt should have moved forwards much more than it actually did. We didn't get much in the way of new information; it almost felt to me like book one part two. I did find that the characters are growing on me a bit more. I liked Jace a lot in this installment, and even Clary seems to be braver and a bit more likable. Valentine's character is evil enough; though not particularly scary the way the best villains are(nothing compared to Sauron and Voldemort for example). There isn't really much complexity to the characters or layers, what you see is what you get. I feel that Clare should spend less time explaining things like the taste of fear (seriously?) and more time delving into her own character's psyches.

While this book is entertaining, simple and certainly more original than it's predecessor, it's lack of depth both from the characters standpoint and from the plot itself was a strong deterrent for me. I'm still interested enough to keep going, but I'm above all hoping for an explosive third installment.