Rated Reads

City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments, Book Five)

by Cassandra Clare

Rated: High

I had a dream last night that this series ended up being eight books long (and then there were an additional 12 manga versions to make a total of 20 books). I’m thinking that nightmare of sorts came to my mind perhaps because I’m wondering now just how many books Cassandra Clare is going to stretch out of this series, which originally seemed done at three. At the rate we’re going, eight sounds about right.

As much as I’ve loved these books, this newest installation left me cold (well, at least tepid). For the second book in a row, our handsome, rakish hero Jace was not himself. And that’s on top of three books in which he thought he and Clary were siblings or for some other reason he just shouldn’t be with her. And now at the end of this book, another reason is contrived to kind of keep the two lovebirds apart. OK, enough. I mean, really. The shtick is getting old. Even in the early stages of this book, as Clary and her friends were desperately trying to find Jace and figure out (increasingly outlandish) ways to rescue him and get him back to normal (away from the power and control of the evil Sebastian), even as the Clave was willing to just let him go, or, if they found him, kill him, I was thinking, “Yeah, just kill him already.” I just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm necessary to keep reading, and I certainly didn’t want just as desperately as Clary to get him back.

The other drawback with this book: it didn’t give me a single laugh-out-loud moment. I knew the further I read that as Clare didn’t give me any opportunities for a good laugh, it was sub-par work on her part. Sure, there were a few mildly clever comments by some characters throughout, but nothing really great.

So there are the problems: in her previous books, from City of Bones to City of Fallen Angels, Clare has provided sizzling romance, edge-of-your-seat adventure and action, and genuinely hilarious moments. This time, she’s just trying too hard, and it’s not cutting it. Whereas with the others, I couldn’t put them down, this time, I didn’t read the book in a day; it took me a week to get through it. So I feel cheated and disappointed and empty. So sad.

Rated: High. This go-around wasn’t significantly different than the other books, which are solidly moderate, in that the levels of violence and gore were fairly similar (fairly detailed and icky), and there really isn’t much bad language, but there were a couple of scenes of teen sex (without details, mostly implied and off-screen), and several scenes of intense making-out which almost led to sex but was held off. This is more than in previous books. There also are a couple more disturbing details from the evil characters that I thought were kind of worse than the other books as well. Again, not significantly higher than the others’ moderate ratings, but I thought the levels were enough to kick up beyond moderate.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for about 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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City of Lost Souls
  • City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments, Book Five)
  • by Cassandra Clare
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: