Release Date: March 24, 2009
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters - never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.
As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City - whatever the cost? (courtesy of Goodreads.)
City of Glass is a fitting end to the original The Mortal Instruments trilogy. I go back and forth on whether it's my favorite book of the three. It's hard to beat the first book. City of Glass ties everything up nicely. Perhaps too conveniently, but it's nice to have a satisfying ending.... Even if it's just the end of the beginning.
Like City of Ashes, City of Glass is told from multiple points of view. This has a jarring effect, but I like it much better in this book. Maybe because I'm used to it.
Jace is my favorite point of view. Unfortunately, we don't get enough from him. There's lots of him from other people's viewpoints, but he is a much more layered person when I'm inside his head. He puts up a hard front of sarcasm and meanness. We do see his passionate side when he's with Clary, but those moments are few and far between. When we read from his perspective, we see the scared boy behind the hard shell.
I go back and forth on whether I like Clary. She does some really stupid things. Sure it's in the name of saving her mother and then saving others, but I still think there's a subconscious arrogance to it. She's convinced that her way is the only way, damn the consequences. This puts herself and others at danger, as it did when she illegally portaled to Idris and dragged Luke with her. On the other hand, this confidence comes in handy when she needs to persuade people to take advantage of her unique talent for creating runes.
I do like how fully developed the secondary characters are. Simon has gone from being nerdy and desperately reckless to brave and confident, in a somewhat geeky way. Luke is still my favorite character. He comes into his own in this book, establishing himself firmly as Clary's father (in every way but biology) and a quiet strength capable of leading both werewolves and Shadowhunters, if they're willing to listen. Isabelle is hard-edged and b*tchy, but she shows a softer, more loving side with the greater presence of her little brother. Alec works on growing a backbone; more specifically he works on accepting who he is and those who care for him.
The pacing is well done. Even more than the first book, City of Glass has a huge amount of back information. We learn so many details about Idris, about the Shadowhunter political structure, about Valentine, about the origin of Clary and Jace's unusual abilities. It's like the last three Harry Potter books crammed into one. The book could be one massive info dump, but instead we get the background evenly spread out between page-turning action scenes.
The final battle with Valentine was fabulous. I think Ms. Clare created a more layered villain than Voldemort. Unlike Voldemort, Valentine was capable of love. That makes him such a more real person.
*Spoiler: Highlight text to read:
The paragraphs right after Valentine kills Jace gives me chills:
"She saw Valentine sink to the ground and pull Jace onto his lap as if Jace were still very small and could be easily held. He drew him close and rocked him, and he lowered his face and pressed it against Jace's shoulder, and Clary thought for a moment that he might even have been crying, but when he lifted his head, Valentine's eyes were dry. "My son," he whispered. 'My boy.'
...Valentine held Jace and brushed his bloody hair back from his forehead. He held Jace while he died, and when the light went out of his eyes, and then Valentine laid his adopted son's body gently down on the ground... 'Ave-,' he began...but his voice cracked, and he turned abruptly and walked back toward the altar." (p. 488)
Both times I've read this book, it's not Jace's death that shocks me, but the fact that Valentine really did love his son. It makes it all the more heartless that he sacrificed him for the cause. At the same time, his capability to love another person takes him beyond the realm of cardboard villain. (On a picky grammar note, the first paragraph contains an enormous sentence. There are four "and's". It's awkward).
City of Glass puts such a good cap on The Mortal Instruments. As much as I enjoy reading more about Clary and Jace, a large part of me wishes the series had ended here. I felt good at the end - that giddy, happy feeling you get when you slow to the stop at the end of a rollicking roller coaster ride.
Rating: 4 / 5
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