I’ve proved myself right: City of Lost Souls, the fifth book in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, is far better than the fourth, City of Fallen Angels, though it still lacks the clockwork tight plot and sharp twists of the first three books.
This book never really settled on a protagonist. We spent the most time with Clary. Sebastian’s control of Jace rendered Jace’s POV null. Clare was trying to pull the wool over our eyes and make us believe in a changed Sebastian, so we were denied access to his mind. Simon ought to have had a grand role this book and was set to be the ultimate hero, but his glory was literally taken from him by Clary so that Clare could further complicate her relationship with Jace and possibly so that Sebastian could escape to complicate the sixth book.
If this battle was merely the first in a second war, the next book’s final battle should be epic because I would have been quite satisfied to see Simon stab Sebastian and end the series in this book—and not just because it would mean heroism for Simon and death for Sebastian and freedom for Jace. The Mortal Instruments ought to have been a trilogy almost everyone seems to agree, and the plot is beginning to feel stretched like butter scraped across too much bread.
Because Clary has never been my favorite character nor have she and Jace been my favorite couple, their romantic woes cannot sustain the series for me. And Clare seems to recognize that, though she won’t change the plot to suit; that would too deeply rock her foundation. Yet we are given a wealth of other couples to root for: Magnus and Alec, Simon and Izzy, Jordan and Maia, and Jocelyn and Luke. Each one of these couples is almost a separate subplot in City of Fallen Angels, and I’m not sure that that is necessary. In reality, everyone’s relationships might be complicated all at once regardless of what is going on, but Maia and Jordan seemed superfluous, Luke and Jocelyn were thrust aside, and Alec’s worries over Magnus’ immortality were untimely when we were busily trying to decide if Alec was going to lose another brother to death. The presence of Camille seemed merely a way to pander to fans of The Infernal Devices.
Scattered through the book are references to her other series, The Infernal Devices, The Bane Chronicles, the first of which Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan will publish online on April 16th (those I will probably devour because Magnus), and even the new series, The Dark Artifices, that Clare has promised is coming. While I know that the series are interconnected, it almost seems as if Clare’s mind is meandering throughout time and space, though I might appreciate these references more were I a greater fan of The Infernal Devices or if the references were subtler.
Several gut-punching lines and scenes shine in this book, and Simon and Izzy’s budding relationship is touching and well-handled as are the foreign cities to which Clary transports the readers.
In the end, The Mortal Instruments are snarky, steamy teen fluff with some hacking and slashing to keep the plot lively and because Clare recognizes that girls love action movies too.
Clare, Cassandra. The Mortal Instruments, Book Five: The City of Lost Souls. New York: Margaret K. McElderry-Simon & Schuster, 2012.
This review is not endorsed by Cassandra Clare, Margaret K. McElderry Books, or Simon & Schuster, Inc. It is an independent, honest review by a reader.
I’ve reviewed the third book in the series, City of Glass, too.