City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, #2)

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, #2) - Cassandra Clare 3.5? 4 stars?I don't know yet...this book took me by surprise so many times, I haven't been able to figure out what I think of it yet. I enjoyed reading it, but it took me longer than expected. It was easier to put down than I would have thought.I think that's because it's a much darker, more intense book than I expected. Sure, the 2nd book in a 3 story arc (although I realize that's not quite true) is usually the dark-before-the-dawn. But I think that it was tough for me in so many ways.To be on the safe side, I'll put those thoughts into spoiler text, so as not to ruin anyone's enjoyment of the book who might be looking at reviews before reading the book:1. Simon becoming a vampireThat one really threw me. I don't know why, because I was getting tired of everyone calling him a mundane, too, and treating him as if he didn't belong. But somehow, it felt... off. Forcing Simon into that world... I know that in a way Clary already did. But Simon rushing off and throwing himself into the vampire hotel to "turn". Well, that doesn't feel right.It gave Jace a chance to "make up" with him, I guess - giving Simon his blood. Is that why Simon can now withstand daylight? He has the blood of a Nephilim in him rather than humans or animals?2. Valentine This guy is nothing if unpredictable. As predictable as he can be as a villain, he's still so out there. But his interactions with Simon and especially with Clary didn't shed ANY light on his character or really, his motives in this book. Which made him very one-dimensional.Yes, we heard about his plans for bringing demons in to "cleanse" the world and all. But the important stuff - the stuff about his motivations towards both Jace and Clary.... nothing. Nada. It seems as if he wants his SON to be just like him; but that's nothing new. We knew that in the previous book. So when Jace tells the Inquisitor that his father won't trade him but rather agree to have him killed instead, we know it's true.Clary... such strange interaction with Valentine. He acts as if he could care less about her, almost as if he wasn't really her father. Or is he taking out his feelings of betrayal from her mother on Clary because she looks so much like her mother? I can't tell yet. But I have the distinct feeling that there's a real disconnect there - something isn't right. And I keep hoping that it's because Jace and Clary aren't really related through either Valentine or Jocelyn and can actually be "in love" with one another. But that's too easy.3. The "special" powers of Jace & ClaryYes, it makes sense, but it seems cliched. Except that Clary's "powers" are more fun and unpredictable. Her being able to use OPEN in the most literal sense is ... hilarious! And yes, it gives her a more equal footing with the rest of the trained Shadowhunters, because she has the ability to "create" meaningful ruins, the unspoken language. Whether her "father" has anything to do with that, though... remains to be seen.As to that, while I realize that there hasn't been time for training, Clary is being treated as a full-fledged Shadowhunter. And she's not. Or maybe it's just because she's thrust into most of the situations, because Jace has tried to prevent her from being part of the worst of it all. I guess it just seems as if SOMEONE should be showing Clary the basics in the "off time", so that she doesn't end up creating a ruin that will blow up the world or melt it all down or something!So much happens in this book in such a short time, that it feels as if the ACTION takes over. The questions about the Inquisitor's motives... what happens in the City of Bones... Simon... Maia... the Seelie Court (which was intriguing, especially what the Queen told Jace to tell Valentine)... and the all-out fighting. And WHAT THE HECK DID THE INQUISITOR TELL JACE AT THE END? While the characters attempt to deal with their feelings, they never really have the time, because they're racing to deal with the next "event", and there are a lot of "events" that happen! And I'm with my friend, Regina, when she says that too many "secrets" are interrupted before being revealed. That might be a good way to keep us in suspense, but for ALL OF THEM? C'mon - give a little here!I'm hooked on the series, but so far, it's not the kind of series that makes me want to race through it. Which is probably a good thing. Lots to absorb in this "new world" that the author's created.