* Prices may differ from that shown
City of Lost Souls - Cassandra Clare
As many of you may be aware from my previous reviews, I have been currently reading a series of books by Cassandra Clare which I originally fell into after coming across a future movie preview. I came across a film in which will be released later this year (2013); City of Bones. The preview really caught my eye, and when I found out that it is a set of books I ordered the first one straight away. After getting three quarters of the way through the first book, I realised that I had to get the next couple of books immediately and kicked myself for not doing this sooner as I really wanted to continue the story without a break. The first three books were brilliant, and that is where the author originally intended leaving it, though due to popular demand she then brought out a further trilogy taking off from where the first three ended. So far, only two of these have been published with the third (or sixth) one due out in 2014. As I said, I really enjoyed the first three, though was left completely disappointed after finishing the fourth installment. As I had already purchased the fifth book I felt compelled to continue reading in the hope that its former glory would be returned.
My review of the first four books in the series, 'City of Bones' and 'City of Ashes', 'City of Glass' and 'City of Fallen Angels' (Lovely original names!) can be found on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
This review covers the fifth book in the series, 'City of Lost Souls'.
These books are part of 'The Mortal Instruments' book series which include;
City of Bones
City of Ashes
City of Glass
City of Fallen Angels
City of Lost Souls
City of Heavenly Fire (unreleased)
There are also a couple of spin-off series which I have not yet looked at so as of yet can not comment on.
With all this said, I will now take you on to my review of the fifth book of the series...
"You may have the worst timing since Napoleon decided the dead of winter was the right moment to invade Russia."
A/N: Please bear in mind when reading this review that some spoilers from the first books may appear, though I will attempt to keep them to a minimum.
Jace has vanished and so has Sebastian and the Clave is out for blood - primarily Sebastian's, though once Clary discovers that the love of her life is bound to her evil brother through Lilith's demon magic, she knows that the Clave will take out either one of them and this is not a price Clary is willing to accept.
When Clary and Jace meet again, Clary realises that neither boy can be hurt without the other feeling their pain, and in turn, if one dies, the other dies too. Alongside her Shadowhunter friends, a warlock who despises helping them, and a vampire who still holds a curse, Clary begins playing a dangerous game of bargening with demons, seelies and even the cold, silent Iron Sisters to try to save Jace. She is willing to do anything for Jace, but can she trust him? Or is he and his soul truly lost?
As with all these books so far, the synopsis on the cover of the book does not really give a lot away and does not invite a prospective reader into its pages, though I have bulked it out slightly to give a better idea. Unfortunately, unlike the other books in this series, the actual blurb does the book better justice than the text actually gives. It is not as bad as the previous book, though it is nothing in comparison to the first trilogy in the set.
This book continues to focus upon a group of Shadowhunters, with this group continuing to be the main heart of the story, though like before, we meet a lot of 'Downworlders', otherwise known as vampires, werewolves and fay. We still see a lot of the Downworlders in this book, though we do return to focusing upon the Shadowhunters and the main storyline does find its footing a little bit more, though not to the extent I had hoped.
City of Lost Souls travels a little further afield in regards of places than before, though we do not really learn much of these new places and most are based on actual towns and cities in our own world rather than new and invented areas. As Stephanie Meyer writes of this set of books; [it is] 'a story world I love to live in' and I do agree with her sentiment in the main, though I have felt as though it is sliding away since the previous book. The area concept is great and the magical feel is still slightly there, though it just does not 'wow' me as it once did.
As already mentioned above, this was originally meant to be a trilogy, though on second thought, the author extended it to a further three books. Although I was excited about there being more books in the set, on hindsight I should have perhaps left it after the third book when it rested on a high. The fourth book was a complete let down, and although it picked up considerably in this book, the amazing feel of the storyline and characters has altered so much so that it feels almost like a whole new series. It still has the same characters though they are not keeping to their characterizations and personalities which had been well established, and the changes (although perhaps on purpose) do not seem to work and almost seem forced. The story line also has this feel to it, and although there are more exciting parts that the previous book, it has continued to take a step down from what it once was.
The flow of the story has picked up once again and it holds much more energy than before, though again, nothing like the original three books. I know I keep comparing this book to the first trilogy, though when reading a series, you come to expect certain things, and when they change - you can really notice it which does not help the authors case when asking the question: Should she have quit whilst she was ahead?
Many a time I still felt as though the author was at a loss as to where she was going, and instead stumbled through parts of story which seemed to be going nowhere. At these down points in the story (less than the last book, but still too many times) I found myself skimming through the text rather than taking in every single word. Once the more energetic parts came in, the story did pick up and there were some exciting parts which drew me back in to the action, though unfortunately there were not enough of these parts for me to fully enjoy reading this story.
The story itself was also not overly strong. I found myself thinking of much better ways the author could have written certain parts, and again, it just felt as though it was forced. The third book gave a nice, well rounded ending, and this book, like the last, just seemed to look around throughout to try to find something to latch on to which may make a good story. I will admit that there were many times that caught my attention, and I found myself barely able to put the book down, and like before, these grew more the further I got towards the end of the book, though if half a book is missing something important to keep a readers attention, how many readers will continue to these points?
Once again we have a whole host of errors throughout the book, grammatical and otherwise. Although I had got used to this to a degree in the other books, it still became frustrating and very annoying many a time. I felt like rewriting many parts just so it would make more sense!
The story probably best falls into the urban fantasy genre, though I feel that it can not comfortably sit in one particular genre or another as it is so jam packed with so many different aspect. There is a whole heightened amount of humour in this second installment, as well as aspects of science fiction, love story, action adventure and many more, though many of these are subtle - such as the love story. There is also a great amount of humour in this book which is perhaps one of the things which kept me entertained through the duller moments of the story.
Keeping with the idea of the love story in this book, I feel that I should mention a little about it as in many books, the love story becomes the heart and soul of the book and occasionally becomes too overwhelming and so the story becomes lost. Stephanie Meyer, author of the 'Twilight' series, also speaks highly of these books, so it may make a person wonder just how strong this part of the story is. Through the first three books, the love story/s were kept further in the background than the forground, and entered the story as a simple sub-plot. Although the love story/s is not the main feature of the story, it does become more heightened in this particular book, more than ever before. The whole concept of Clary trying to save the love of her life is perhaps the most prominent part of the story. Due to the storyline, this is not in-your-face though it is always there and often becomes a little too much.
The story is written from a narrative view, though unlike many books, this switches from character to character. The main part of the story follows Clary, though we see various points in which we follow other main characters. This works out brilliantly and almost runs as though it were a movie playing in front of you. There is no confusion whatsoever, and the pace and flow of each and between each is simply perfect. The switching in characters is not as paramount in this book as was in the previous ones.
There is a medium amount of violence in this book, and although it is written really well, it is wise to remember that this book does cover a growing war and so there is quite a number of emotional scenes which cover loss, death and betrayal, mainly bought through from the last book. Although these aspects appear in the book, due to the way it was written and the poor storyline, I felt absolutely no emotion, though these such subjects may concern some readers.
Like with the first three books, this book does have a strong element of predictability, and although it is a little disjointed, the predictability is strong in the forground with many aspects. There are some surprises, though this is unfortunately kept to a minimum in this book.
So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines?
The first trilogy was fantastic. It was not without its flaws, though the story brought something almost unique in to the story whilst skirting around the well known genres. It was this uniqueness which made the first three books different and worth while. This book also holds some small element of uniqueness though unfortunately, this time it is not really for the greater good.
In comparison to other books along these lines the same can be said. There is a slight uniqueness in the story, though I have read things very similar in other works and so I was not astounded at all.
So the answer to the question really has to be...nothing. The only real difference (when comparing mainly to the past trilogy) is that this has a lost story which does not excite at all.
One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story.
So how does the ending of this book compare?
The ending was perhaps the best part of the book. Like a few of the other books, the book allows two points of ending. The main ending grew fantastically and really held some power and excitement which had not been apparent during the rest of the book. In saying this, though it was still not perfect as it did have a slight rushed feel (which is weird as some parts of the book dragged on when it could have been written in a sentence or two!). I would have liked to have had more of the tension and excitement found in the last few chapters, but alas, this did not happen.
The second ending as it can be considered, is the epilogue which has once again been introduced. This, like ones before it, brings the heightened action and excitement down to a slower pace and rounds the flow and feel off really well, and although this does this well, this part is very odd in a number of ways and reiterates my feeling that the author is reaching for something worth while to write about.
The story was over 542 pages long in paperback form, which is significantly longer than the other books. Personally I think that this was too long as there were many points which could easily have been condensed or even deleted from the final book edition.
CASSANDRA CLARE CONTROVERSY
I have mentioned this in much more detail in my review on the first book, though felt it significant to mention this once more especially as many people are starting to hear more about it through the movie coming out later this year. I have also read and heard a lot of negative feelings and thoughts due to this which may make people avoid the books, which is something in which I am glad I did not do. I heard about this only after I had begun reading the first book, and luckily by that time, I had already fallen in love with the story.
The controversy I am talking about goes back to the time when Cassandra Claire (as she was then known) was writing various fanfictions (stories based upon actual books such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings). There was many a time in which her writings came under severe scrutiny about plagerism, as well as accusations of racism and sexism.
After looking into this further, it seems that once Clare changed the spelling of her surname, took her old fanfiction stories down from the internet and began her actual novels, the plagiarism and such like accusations diminished.
It is true that the first book was not unique in the slightest, though I have not really seen severe signs of plagiarism within these stories, even with the similarities I have mentioned. Hopefully that means this author has left her past behind her, and I would certainly not recommend staying away from this series due to it.
"It was strange how your world could shift on its axis and everything you trusted could invert itself in what seemed like no time at all."
I was apprehensive about reading on to the fourth book, knowing that this series was originally meant as a trilogy alone, though as I loved the world this author created, I almost felt compelled into reading on. After the fifth book I realised I should have listened to my inner voice, though I still continued to read. Madness? Perhaps. To say I am disappointed is an understatement, though not completely surprising.
The excitement and action does climb up a little from the disappointment of the previous book, and I did enjoy it that much more, though it was nothing to shout out about at all. There was still so much wrong with this story and the forced feeling just did nothing for me at all. The ending peaked the story to better heights, though can you really say you enjoy a book just because it ends so well? Not at all, and then of course, after the brilliant ending, the author throws an epilogue in which makes you realise what you hated about it in the first place.
Will I read the next book?
I Am honestly not sure. As there is over a year wait until the next book comes out, I may just forget about it. I do not feel frustrated that I can not read on, though perhaps I may read it if nothing else but to finish the story completely.
It is not a book to read before reading the first one as it is a continuation.
The RRP on this book is £7.99, though I was able to purchase this in'The Works' shop for £3.00. Amazon also has this at £5.30 plus postage and packaging which is more expensive than the other books. Thankfully I did not spend the RRP on this otherwise I would have been very annoyed!
About the book
City of Lost Souls (CoLS) is the fifth book in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. The book was released on 8th May by Walker and it is 560 pages long.
The demon Lilith has been destroyed and Jace has been freed from her captivity. But when the Shadowhunters arrive to rescue him, they find only blood and broken glass. Not only is the boy Clary loves missing-but so is the boy she hates, Sebastian, the son of her father Valentine: a son determined to succeed where their father failed, and bring the Shadowhunters to their knees.
No magic the Clave can summon can locate either boy, but Jace cannot stay away--not from Clary. When they meet again Clary discovers the horror Lilith's dying magic has wrought--Jace is no longer the boy she loved. He and Sebastian are now bound to each other, and Jace has become what he most feared: a true servant of Valentine's evil. The Clave is determined to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. Will the Shadowhunters hesitate to kill one of their own?
What I thought
Cassandra Clare is one of my favourite Young Adult authors in general but this is also one of my favourite series of all time. From the moment I picked up the first book, I was hooked and wanted more. Thankfully, so is my boyfriend so he bought this one for us both not long after it was released. This review will try to be as spoiler free as possible although it might contains some for the previous books in the series.
Something that Cassandra Clare has mastered the art of is throwing massive twists into her stories. Never do I see anything coming and I always find her twists to be shocking and very inventive, which is a big part of why I love this series so much. After five books, I thought that the series might have started to get a bit predictable but Clare proves me wrong. Not much is predictable about this book. I loved the way that the story was taken and also where it is headed now - which could be anywhere actually.
Clary and Jace are two of my favourite YA characters, not just in this series but altogether. I was a little worried about Jace being taken away with Sebastian and what this would mean for their relationship/ the time spent with these characters but I needn't have worried. A way around the distance is found and explained extremely well. I liked how Clare managed to get these two characters back together again but still keeping with the direction of the plot. Due to the nature of the plot, character development is very strong. I didn't think that there could be much more to learn about both Clary and Jace but there is... a lot more.
I loved Sebastian as the villain in this instalment. He is quite different from others that we have seen in the past and really stood out for me. Sebastian is an extremely interesting character all on his own but paired with Jace and their new bond, he is given a whole other load of dimensions. Being secretive and dark, Sebastian is someone who I never really knew what to think of. I could never tell if he was being truthful or sincere but the possibility was always there. Then, there was also the possibility that he was completely evil and a liar but you never really knew. This is what made him stand out for me because he was never truly placed into the villain stereotype.
In true Cassandra Clare style, this book is full on tension and action and this is something that also makes it really well marketed towards boys as well as girls. I love the action scenes and discovering where the characters will end up or what danger they will face next. Clare's books are always so exciting that I can never put them down. As Shadowhunters are demon killers, you can always expect some quite intense fight scenes in these books which only adds to the tension of the plot. CoLS is fast paced for the most part but also slows down for some more tender and meaningful moments which was a nice change. The romance, not only between Clary and Jace but other characters too, is always amazingly written. However, in this book I felt that it was stepped up a notch. Other character's relationships are developed more and this meant that everything was not always about Clary and Jace, which I liked.
I completely loved CoLS and it is one of my favourites in the series. The way that Clare managed to keep the protagonist's story central while also keeping secondary characters important meant that this was some of her best writing yet. I'm dying for the sixth book already and it's going to be a long wait for it!