Four out of five stars.
Rating Note: Five stars means it's the best of the best. Four is great, three good, two not so good, one awful.
In book two of The Immortal Instruments, Clary and the Shadowhunters deal with the aftermath of the betrayals and chaos encountered in City of Bones, while the chaos just continues to expand and grow from a tight little ball of deadly energy into something like fireworks, except maybe not so pretty. And in the midst of dealing with all of it, Clary is still discovering new things about her past and who she is, and what she can do.
Our main protagonist grows by the end of City of Ashes. A lot. We saw hints of her growth in book one, but dang does she go through some character development here. She's beginning to discover she's stronger than she and everyone else around her once thought. And she manages to go through this growth all while her mother is still comatose AND while struggling to come to terms with just what her relationship with Jace is and should be, which is pretty impressive, in my opinion.
We're also introduced to a new character who seems to be here to stay: Maia. Quirky, video game nerd werewolf girl complete with a tortured past with a crazy brother and an ex-boyfriend who sounds like someone I'd like to punch in the face. Obviously, her experience with boys hasn't been the greatest, but that doesn't stop her from being a badass.
The characters as a whole are as lovable (or hateable, if we're talking about Valentine) as ever, and the storytelling is a delight. Throughout City of Ashes, we get to see more into the world of the Shadowhunters, as well as learn more about the Downworlder and fae races and how their politics work. And I have to say, the fae are terrifying in that you-probably-mean-something-completely-different-from-what-it-sounds-like-you're-saying type of way. I love them - and I also want to stab them in the eye. Wonderful, right?
It's hard to word build in a way that ties into the plot without bogging it down, but Cassandra Clare continues to do an epic job of it in this series. We learn more about the different races and mechanics of the world even while the world around us is blowing up. What more could you ask for?
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