Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review: CITY OF LOST SOULS by Cassandra Clare

Rating: 4/5 stars

*This review contains spoilers for the first four books in The Mortal Instruments series, but not for this book, City of Lost Souls.*

I read a lot of reviews where people said this book was really slow, but I didn’t see that. I enjoyed the whole thing; although, I was listening to the audiobook so that might have contributed to my enjoyment. Also, I was slugging through Clockwork Prince right before I started this book but decided to put it down out of boredom and because I just really wanted to get back into this story instead. Because of that, I don’t know how that book connects to this book, but I really wish I did because I bet there are tons of crossover details.

First, let’s talk about the characters. I’m irritated with Jace again. Why is it always Jace who’s in trouble? What happened with him in City of Fallen Angels and this book reminded me of City of Ashes where he almost trusted Valentine and got in trouble with the Clave. Like why can’t someone else be in the hot seat for a change? Jace hasn’t been himself for the last two books for certain reasons, but it just feels like Clare is picking on his character because it seems he’s always the one to get the short end of the stick. I get that it’s because of what happened at the end of City of Glass, but I still feel like she turned a main character on us for a few hundred pages there.

Anyway, I’m still loving Simon. He was the first character I like backed in City of Bones, and he remains my favorite character of this series. I just love watching him grow as a vampire. He faces real struggles when it comes to his family, and it’s nice to see characters work through their problems and emerge stronger, which he does. I’m glad he was able to work out some of the tension in his family. He has been instrumental to the lives of the Shadowhunters in this whole series, and I think he’s a living testament that Downworlders and Shadowhunters are supposed to work together to fight demons and villains, that there never should have been animosity between the two races.

Clary really showed her loyalty to Jace in this book. Up until now I considered their relationship to be like any other teenage relationship that you think is going to last forever until it ends abruptly over something stupid. But now I realize how invested Clary is, and I have to give her credit for what she endured for Jace during this book. I bet she learned a lot about herself, too, in how far she was willing to go for him. Also, I’m glad Clary finally used her charm to summon the Seelie Queen because when we found out about that back in City of Fallen Angels, I’d been wondering when it was going to show up again. I hate when authors introduce an important artifact or a piece of crucial information and then it never gets mentioned again. I also loved the rings that Clary acquired and their properties. All of the magical items in this series—and there are quite a few—are my favorite things to read about.

Jordan and Maia grew on me during this book too. I kept blowing them off as disposable side characters but after this book, I started to like them, Jordan especially.

I really enjoyed Alec and Magnus’s relationship for most of this book. (I’m hoping what happened at the end will be solved in the final book.) The bounds were tested, and I think they both learned what their relationship was worth to each of them. I was also kind of excited to see Alec keeping secrets from the rest of the crew because that’s so unlike him and it really stretched his character.

And lastly, Sebastian. What’s to like? I’m a bit upset that he’s back in this series because he was supposed to be dead. . . . But here he is anyhow, and I don’t like him. He actually seemed pretty charming and normal for most of the book, which was an interesting change of character for him, but I still never trusted him for a second. What I did like, though, was his house that could teleport anywhere. I want a house like that.

After five books, I’ve spent a lot of time with these characters and have really grown to love them all. I remember hating Isabelle and Jace in the first book, but now Isabelle is one of my favorite characters, and Jace is good when he can finally think for himself. This book had a great deal of character development in it for all the characters, and that might be why some people think it’s slow, because of the lack of action for a few hundred pages. However, while there is no action in the beginning, the events that do take place are just as important.

I thought there were quite a few tropes in this book. Normally I don’t really notice or care about tropes but for some reason in this book I really noticed them, and it had me rolling my eyes at times. Something I hate in books that feels like a cop-out is dead people coming back to life. Simon coming back to life in the earlier books I liked because it wasn’t the typical resurrection spell and he was changed, but Sebastian, who was originally dead when the trilogy “ended” the first time, coming back in the second arc of this series seemed like a ploy just to create more content and sell more books. He is also so similar to Valentine that the end of this book felt too much like it was slipping into the plotline of the first three books. I know that Valentine and Sebastian have different ideas of a “utopia” that they’re trying to build, but it’s all the same concept.

Another trope that bothered me was the one where “the main character gets never-before-seen unnatural powers” that happened. This happened with Clary and her rune-creating abilities that happened in the first arc, and here it is happening again. I just don’t like when one person is more special than the entire rest of their race. Or “the super important artifact that is the key to everything goes missing so the whole plan is foiled” trope that happens to Clary.

I remember commending Cassandra Clare in my review of City of Bones for addressing all the questions in the plot that the reader would have, such as Why can’t the characters just use this spell instead? or Why can’t they solve the problem this simpler way? But after reading this book, I’ve noticed that technique doesn’t apply so much anymore. There were plenty of times I asked myself while reading City of Lost Souls, Why are they doing this? Why is it happening this way? Why didn’t this obvious idea work? It was a bit disappointing.

Once again, I love how the doctrine from the Bible is used to tell the history of Shadowhunters. Clare takes really interesting concepts from the Bible and uses them to make her world seem more realistic, and it’s great. It is curious, though, that it is mentioned multiple times in this series that Shadowhunters have no religion because they essentially worship the angel Raziel for creating them, but they base a lot of things on Christian scripture. I would be interested to learn more about this. Reading about religion in fantasy novels is one of my favorite aspects of any fantastical world.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed City of Lost Souls and all the character development and details it contributed to the world of the Shadowhunters. I was a little irritated with how the big battle happened at the end, but this book still had some surprises for me. I can’t wait to read the sixth and final book! I can’t say why it took me so long to finally read The Mortal Instruments, but I am glad I got to it this summer.

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