Spoiler Alert! City of Glass is the third book in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Therefore, this review contains major spoilers for the previous books, but especially the second book, City of Ashes. You have been warned.
I wound up taking some time between reading the previous Mortal Instruments book and City of Ashes. It was partly unintentional, but I also needed to take a breather and finish the Dorothy Must Die series. But I was excited to finally come back around to the third installment of the Mortal Instruments!
There were many reasons to love City of Glass. It takes place in the gorgeous city of Alicante, the capital and only city in the mysterious country of Idris (visible only to Shadowhunters and Downworlders). Alicante is kind of the central hub of the Shadowhunter world. That is where the Clave resides (basically the counsel of Shadowhunters), where most Shadowhunters call home, and the only place in the world that demons cannot infiltrate. Clary travels to Alicante to find the only person who can save her mother’s life. But trouble is already brewing. Valentine has two out of the three mortal instruments and it’s a race between him and the Shadowhunters to find and acquire the third. Meanwhile, Valentine is also putting into motion his plan to destroy Shadowhunters permanently. The Clave must decide whether they will set aside their differences with the Downworlders in order to band together to fight against Valentine and his army.
Full of action, tension, and plot twists, I enjoyed City of Glass in many ways. I love the way Clare writes battle scenes and her strong character development in even fringe characters. Unfortunately, what could have been a story focused on the Clave, Downworlders, Clary’s growth as a Shadowhunter (and with her unique talents), the fight to save Alicante, and the race to save Clary’s mother, I found that City of Glass was focused more on the teenage angst of Jace and Clary than any of the other important aspects of the story. Most of the story seemed to be spent on Jace mad at Clary, Clary mad at Jace, Jace trying to protect Clary, Clary not wanting protection, Jace and Clary fighting, Jace and Clary pouting together and at each other because they can’t be together because they are brother and sister, and I could go on. It was like Clare felt the need to reiterate over and over again the tension going on because Jace and Clary fell in love, found out they were siblings, and now need to back off the angsty teenage love. Keep in mind that the Jace/Clary sibling reveal happened at the end of the first book, and we’re on book three now.
*Hints at spoilers in this paragraph: Because I’ve finished City of Glass, I know how this struggle turns out and what happens next. But I honestly believe there was a better way to establish and hold in place the idea that discovering they were siblings was hard for Jace and Clary, something never felt right about it, and they still deeply loved each other, without creating a semblance of an incestuous relationship. I honestly think it’s bad form for a writer, especially when writing for young adults. The way she approached the whole thing cheapened the end of the book for me, because the solution felt like a cop-out.
The excitement of the story taking place in Idris, meeting new and powerful characters, and really, really good battle scenes does cancel out some of my frustration with the Jace/Clary issue. But I’m still a little bitter. I am interested to see how the next three books play out. City of Glass wrapped up well as the third book in a trilogy, although I did see a couple openings to continuing the story. Cassandra Clare can’t stop, won’t stop. I am completely okay with this.
City of Glass by Cassandra Clare gets 3/5 stars.