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Literary Friday: City of Lost Souls

Friday, May 18, 2012


This week I read the highly anticipated City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare.  It is the fifth installment in the very popular Mortal Instruments series, and I must admit that I have many conflicting emotions about the book. Although it was worth all the hype and I still think that Clare is the best young adult writer {ever}, I have a few criticisms with this book that I did not have with the first four.

First, let me give you a brief overview of the series:

The Mortal Instruments is about a young New Yorker named Clary Fray who discovers another world while she and her best friend Simon Lewis are downtown at a music club called Pandemonium. There exists a group of warriors called shadowhunters who protect regular humans, or mundanes, from downworlders, who are vampires, werewolf's, warlocks, and faeries. Shadowhunters also hunt and kill demons invading through protective wards all over the world at an increasingly greater rate.  These shadowhunters are half human/half angel, and they are called nephilim. They have supernatural speed and agility to fight these other beings when they threaten humans. When Clary sees a few young nephilim at the Pandemonium Club and follow them, they are stunned that Clary can see through their glamour.  Clary soon learns that her mother Jocelyn has been hiding her heritage from her by taking her memories with the help of a warlock named Magnus Bane.  When Jocelyn is threatened by demons and put in a deep sleep by a spell, Clary joins the nephilim's New York Institute and begins training as a shadowhunter.   Clary's estranged father starts a war, Clary falls in love with a shadowhunter, and Simon becomes one of the most powerful vampires in the world.  You will need to brush-up on your Old Testament because there are plenty of references to it in this series.

City of Lost Souls begins two weeks after City of Fallen Angels ends.  Clary's evil brother Sebastian has been raised from the dead by Lilith, and his life is tied to Jace, Clary's love. Sebastian is the very embodiment of evil, and in my opinion he makes his villainous father Valentine seem downright decent.  The Clave cannot locate Jace and Sebastian, and there is a huge problem when they do: Sebastian cannot be killed without also killing Jace because each feels what the other one feels.  Clary is restless waiting on The Clave to discover a way to save Jace, so in true Clary form she rushes into danger to save her boyfriend. Once she is with Jace, she knows that he is not really "her Jace" but someone else altogether. He is now subject to Sebastian's will, and he happily complies with everything Sebastian says. Cassie's plot centering around Clary, Jace, and Sebastian is genius.  I had many conflicting emotions about Sebastian throughout the book, and I kept second-guessing myself about him until the end.

I liked the pace of the plot.  Sometimes Clare's books move at such an exhausting pace I have to spend time rereading scenes just so I won't be lost. I also like Clary's character so much more in City of Lost Souls.  For once her bravery outweighs her recklessness, and Clary's training as a Shadowhunter has paid off.  She really kicks butt in this book!  Another character who is developed very well is Izzy.  Her vulnerability makes her a much more interesting character, and her scenes with Simon were some of the best in the book.  There is definitely a shocking scene between Izzy and Simon; I for one want to know more about the red-stoned choker Izzy wears, and I also wonder why she is the only Lightwood without startlingly blue eyes (hers are dark brown).  Simon was so heroic in this book, and he truly saves the day. I also enjoyed a glimpse of Simon's big sister Rebecca.  I hope to read more about her in the next book, but I am also worried that if any of Simon's enemies know about her that they will use her to provoke Simon.

The Clary/Jace/Sebastian storyline is not the only exciting one in City of Lost Souls.  Maia and Jordan's scenes are better than I thought they would be because Jordan is such a nice guy. There is absolutely no doubt that he loves Maia, and the more I read about Jordan's honorable character, the more I like him.  We get a glimpse into the elite organization Praetor Lupus, the guardian werewolf group Jordan joined after accidentally turning Maia. Alec and Magnus are having issues due to Alec's immaturity and insecurity. Camille manipulates Alec which results in dire consequences for him.  I am a bit more sympathetic to Alec because of Camille's manipulation and his age, but most readers disagree with me on this point. Maureen has been the biggest surprise of all, and I hope that City of Heavenly Fire (book 6) begins with her.

I have a couple of criticisms, and the first one is that Cassie describes the characters' clothing a bit obsessively.  I do not think she did this as much in the other books, and the descriptions are a distraction to the plot.  I do enjoy reading about Simon's t-shirts in the books (example:  THE LOCH NESS MONSTER ADVENTURE CLUB: FINDING ANSWERS, IGNORING FACTS), but I do not need to know what everyone is wearing in every single scene. There are a few times in the book when Cassie seems to break for a public service announcement, and these scenes also distracted me from the plot. Sebastian's obsession with Clary is disturbing at best, and a few readers I have discussed the book with completely missed the entire crux of their storyline.  I will not spoil it for you, but when you read it pay attention to the dialogue between Clary and Sebastian at the end of the book.  I also wonder if there is a bit of a rivalry between Clare and another writer I know.  At first I thought I was imagining it, but now I am not so sure.  I do agree with one of the characters who does not like men who smell like sandalwood. :D

I do not recommend this book for young teens at all.  I will not let my fourteen year old read it yet.  There is violence, several make out scenes, mild language, and a few scenes like the one at the creeptastically macabre nightclub called The Bone Chandelier that I would give an R rating.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. Hi, Ricki

    Great book review and I will have to give this one a try. Have a great weekend.


  2. So many books have this theme. I am not a fan but I know many are. Have a great weekend!

    Susan and Bentley

  3. Okay so if I see Maddy with this book I will snatch it. And then read it in secret in my room. Ha-ha!!!

  4. You've done the impossible, Mom-- you've convinced me to read these before the last in the trilogy comes out. Kudos! Will start reading next week :)

  5. More books to go on my list :)

  6. As you know I am not a fan of this type of book but it was certainly interesting to read your review and note that you will not be letting your fourteen year old read this. I can not imagine my dear Mum ever vetting my reading material, I am sure I read books at that age that she would have considered unsuitable.


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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