Title: City of Lost Souls
Series: The Mortal Instruments (Book #5)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Summary: The demon Lilith has been destroyed and Jace has been freed from her captivity. But when the Shadowhunters arrive to rescue him, they find only blood and broken glass. Not only is the boy Clary loves missing–but so is the boy she hates, Sebastian, the son of her father Valentine: a son determined to succeed where their father failed, and bring the Shadowhunters to their knees.
Review: Even as a fan of the Mortal Instruments, after City of Fallen Angels, I was wary it would only be downhill from there. Although this book was different from the others (this was the only one I didn’t end in tears and/or my very soul ripped out), it was spectacular in a way that was different from the others. And I loved it. I sympathized with characters I never thought I’d have an inkling of compassion for, and vice versa, I was bitter towards some I had previously liked without comparison. Where City of Fallen Angles felt like filler, City of Lost Souls finally got down to the nitty gritty plot of it all, and I feel like I’m back in the original series, with different circumstances. It made me seriously think about who I was cheering for, and why–I don’t know if I’ve ever been so torn between who I should think of as good and evil.
What I Liked: Spoilers!
- As usual, I really enjoy Clare’s writing. I’ve found in my travels around the internet that this is a love it or hate it series, and I’m terribly, terribly glad to be on the love-it side. She has a way with words like I’ve never encountered before, and I love the way she makes me think about things. I love the way she mixes up my feelings and twists up my insides. For instance, you get to chapter nineteen, and suddenly everything gets blown out the window. (But we’ll come back to this later.) And alongside messing with my head, she throws in humor that…it just makes me laugh. I don’t know how else to describe it. Most of it is just so…spontaneous sounding, that I could picture myself or my friends saying dumb things like that to each other. And that made it feel realistic instead of forced humor, at least on my part.
- I don’t know how this happened, but I found myself very torn between liking Sebastian, pitying him, and despising him. I know, somewhere inside me, I’m supposed to hate him. I mean…he’s Sebastian. But at a certain point, I almost found myself enjoying him and the way he interacted with Jace and Clary. And I liked liking him, if that makes sense. And then when Jace was “free” for those few moments, I remembered why I supposed to dislike him–but I still didn’t want to. I liked the villain that wasn’t as evil as everybody made him out to be, who wasn’t as black and white as all that. I really enjoy that aspect with Sebastian. When Clary found the note in his room that only said ˝My beautiful one”, my interest was piqued. I wanted to know more. I wanted there to be another reason behind Sebastian’s motives. And again, when we get to chapter nineteen, Love and Blood, everything falls to pieces, and some part of it I finally understand. There is the half of me that feels like I should be very, very disgusted with Sebastian. But then again, wasn’t I supposed to be during the first three books of this series? Is it different because we know for sure that Sebastian and Clary and not anything but brother and sister? I don’t know. And I feel very mixed up, and confused about how I feel about him. At this point, you guys probably understand my feelings toward The Phantom of the Opera. I felt that same sort of thing here, with Sebastian. The reason I pity the Phantom so much. Because he grew up with evil and hatred, and can’t understand there are other ways to go about getting what you want, other ways to win over who you love. I understood this more when I thought about the whip marks on his back. Treated with cruelty, raised with cruelty, hated and never given a chance, even from his own mother–I understood him. In that same way that I understood Phantom. And I’ve decided on pity for him, because when he says certain things (“Do you think there’s forgiveness for people like me?” “I didn’t mean to kill him,” “He wasn’t supposed to fight back.”) I realize that there is part of him that is human, part of him that maybe can’t help the way he treats people. Does he even know what right and wrong is? I don’t know. When he confronts Clary, says that he knows she didn’t care when she thought Jace was her brother, I realized Sebastian was in the exact same boat, in a way. Grew up away from her, had never met her. And that’s why I felt so achingly bad for him. Between “I belong to you” and the note in his room, I can’t feel anything else but overwhelming pity. And if we’re being honest, Sebastian, and trying to figure him out, was what made the book for me. Without that aspect, I would not have enjoyed it half as much as I did.
- I’m really glad we’re finally getting other relationships sorted out. I’m glad Simon and Isabelle are actually spending time with each other, and I’m glad Maia and Jordan have found their way out of the rut they were stuck in, and now we have this twisted and messed up love triangle beginning to form with Jace, Clary, and Sebastian. And I’m interested to see where they all go, what happens. I feel like Clare executes her relationships perfectly. This is the first series where I’ve been perfectly happy with the end-game pairings–and some of that has to be put on the author’s shoulders to execute their couples in a way to make their readers like who they end up with. Clare has been the first author I’ve ever encountered to actually make me happy in this aspect.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Clare promised her readers she would never go too far, sexually. I did not think that included only Jace and Clary. I like Maia and Jordan. I really do. But a relationship that goes from, ‘I’m not really talking to you because I’ve spent years hating your guts,’ to ‘we’re sleeping together every time we see each other’ is too much. That is taking the line, standing on it and waving one foot on the too-far side without setting it down (therefore, not “crossing the line”). For me, it was too far. Maia and Jordan may have had a relationship before the one we see presented directly in this series, but that doesn’t make it okay, not for me. And I don’t like the way Maia handled it. She just walks into the shower, assuming that Jordan is going to be totally okay with being snuck up on, naked, and everything? Too much. Jace and Clary, too. I love them together. Honestly. But I’m worried they’re turning into more lust than love, and that really makes me sad. Every time they have a scene together, they’re basically groping each other, and it’s getting to be too much. Clare, if ever you read this review, please, please, don’t ruin them with that. I loved Jace and Clary because they didn’t need it. I still don’t think they do. And as much as I have a new perspective on Sebastian, I didn’t appreciate his grabbing at Clary’s pants. A lot of it became physically focused, and I don’t really like the new aspect.
- As weird as this sounds, I didn’t like when Jace became himself again, for that brief moment. The way he yells at Sebastian, says he hates him, and that he hates who he’s been. I understand why, of course, and I understand why it happened. But…like I said, I liked seeing the new Sebastian perspective. And it kind of shattered everything that had been built up. Sebastian, when he’s with Jace and Clary, isn’t a terrible person. He treats them like good friends, family, protects Clary when she’s about to die (even though it would have been in his best interest to just let her die). He opens up, and his confessions, his feelings, seem honest enough. If it had to be taken apart, I wanted it to happen in a different way. Clary herself was even starting to change her mind about her brother it seemed, and he suddenly became evil and horrible again just because Jace snapped out of it for a little while. It was too sudden, and I would have preferred the coming undone of those friendships wasn’t so sudden and violent. I wish we could have kept up the pretense (if that’s all it was) of Sebastian not being all bad, so we could have some sort of…split when it comes to the next book. Now, we’re back to black and white, and I don’t like it, and I don’t like the way it happened.
- Alec. Everything about Alec. Seeing Camille in secret, even considering taking away Magnus’ immortality in such an underhanded and selfish way. And he’s so freaking jealous, that I can’t stand him. I like brooding Alec from before, but I don’t like this new Alec that acts like a jealous, PMS-y, teenage girl–the kind who wants a log of everywhere her boyfriend’s been and who he’s seen and what he did. That’s what he feels like now. And I can’t stand it. If I were Magnus, I would have broken up with him, too.
Overall: If you were disappointed with City of Fallen Angels, like I felt many were, don’t give up just yet! This book was redeeming and it brought back, in a new way, the reason I loved the series to begin with–it makes you think, it makes you wonder, and suddenly you feel things you didn’t think you would. Everything you think is turned around, and I love the way it ended up. I can’t wait for the next book to be released, and while I wish I could read it right away, I don’t feel like I’ll suffocate without knowing what will happen next. Clare, you’re making masterpieces again.