Monday, June 9, 2014

Book Review: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

“We’re all drawn toward what’s beautiful and broken; I have been, but some people cannot be fixed. Or if they can be, it’s only by love and sacrifice so great it destroys the giver.”

City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments, Book 5) by Cassandra Clare

Published by McElderry Books
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Release Date: May 8th, 2012
Pages: 535
Other Books By Cassandra Clare: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1)

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Synopsis: What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil.

The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul.

She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.

*This review contains some spoilers for previous books in this series.*

Teisha's Review

I have been reading The Mortal Instruments series for about a year now, and although the first two books of the series left something to be desired, I persevered.  I am happy to say that I was greatly rewarded because Cassandra Clare's books just keep getting better and better.  As the plot thickens, I have become deeply invested in her characters and their fates.

Here are the four reasons why I gave The Mortal Instruments: City of Lost Souls 4 out of 5 stars:

★ Cover Art

I don't usually give stars for a book's cover, because the outside of a book does not necessarily allude to what exists on the inside.  A plain cover may hold the most intricately written, thought-provoking story.  And, an elegantly designed cover may contain a dull, one-dimensional story.  

We've all heard this stated a lot simpler:  Never judge a book by its cover.

Well, I am throwing that idea out of the window today because this is a book cover that I would frame and put on my wall; it's just so damn beautiful.  

All of the covers in Clare's Mortal Instruments series are remarkably stunning, but this cover is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite.  There is just something about Clary and Jace's loving embrace, and not to mention the models who are the perfect embodiment of those two characters.

★ Plot

In City of Lost Souls, Jace has been bound to his evil adoptive brother Sebastian.  Clary, Isabelle, Alec, Simon and Magnus must figure out how to unbind Jace from Sebastian, among other things.  I really liked the plot of Book Five.  It allowed readers to venture outside of New York with the characters, and to see a different side of Sebastian--a side that really loves Clary (or at least what he considers love).  

Action, humor, romance, adventure:  City of Lost Souls has it all.

★ Character Development

I like reading about Jace and Clary, but I have to admit that their relationship is beginning to fall on the back burner for me as new, more dynamic characters emerge.  Magnus & Alec, Isabelle & Simon, Maia & Jordan, and even Sebastian (who has no pairing) are getting more spotlight.  And, this is Clare's greatest move.  We are seeing how love is changing these people.  Even Sebastian.  He seems to be lonely and in need of companionship or love, and it makes you sympathize with him throughout this book.  In my opinion, Clary and Jace haven't really reached the peaks of their development arcs yet.  However, we do see Clary display some of her new fighting skills in this book.   

★ Breaks Boundaries

Cassandra Clare is not afraid to journey across untread waters with her stories.  

I love the way she writes about sexuality.  When you are reading her stories, you're not thinking "Oh, yeah, Alec and Magnus are gay.  Helen and Aline are gay."  When you read Clare's works, you simply see these characters as people who are in love.  Her writing is very poetic and lyrical, and it really speaks to emotions, emotions that help you to forget about gender, race, and stereotypes.  In this way, Clare's writing literally breaks boundaries for me, because in the world she creates there are no boundaries, just love.   

Clare also touches on another topic that you don't often see in YA books--incest.  This theme recurs in her stories.  We see it first in City of Ashes in the case of Jace & Clary being in love even after finding out that they are brother and sister.  And then it returns in City of Glass, when Clary meets Sebastian.  But, things get really uncomfortable with City of Lost Souls and City of Heavenly Fire.  

The subject of incest is disagreeable, but I admit that it is well written and it fits into Clare's overall story.  She is trying to evoke specific emotions from her readers when she writes on this topic--disgust, confusion, empathy--and she succeeds in doing so.

☆ Length

The Mortal Instruments books are generally pretty long.  But, sometimes they can be too long as is the case with City of Lost Souls.  

The length of this book gives way to repetition; I felt that some of the same things were being said over and over, some of the same points were being re-re-emphasized.  I also thought that the length created a lack of action and plot projection.

So, all in all, this book just seemed unnecessarily drawn out.


Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed City of Lost Souls.  It's definitely not my favorite of the series, but I would not say it's my least favorite either.  I highly recommend this series to everyone.  Before this series, I thought I hated fantasy but, as it turns out, I was wrong.   You guys should give it a try and see how you like it! 

Clare has created a very complex world of Shadowhunters, vampires, werewolves, faeries, etc.  Rarely do we see an author handle so much subject matter effectively--Cassandra Clare does so with grace.  

On May 27th, The Mortal Instruments: City of Heavenly Fire, the final installment of the series, was released.  I just recently finished it, so stick around for that review.  Just a teaser of my thoughts on CoHF: It was amazing and so so so bittersweet!   I was literally sitting in my bed at 2am, tears rolling down my eyes.  And, I hadn't done that since The Fault In Our Stars.

Talk to you soon!

--Teisha xx

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