“City of Lost Souls” Fulfills Its Middle Book Requirements

The latest installment in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series picks up right where the last one left off. Jace and Sebastian are missing, and the entire Shadowhunting community is looking for them. But, when Clary learns that her boyfriend and her evil brother are fatally linked (whatever harm one comes to, the other comes to as well), she and her friends must find Jace and a way to severe the bond before the Clave kills them both.

City of Lost Souls begins to feel like season four of a TV series: the original plotlines have played out, there are numerous new characters, and certain storylines are beginning to feel redundant (another book in which Clary and Jace can’t be together? Really?). And from Clare’s writing structure, you would think she was writing a TV series. She jumps from story to story after a brief scene with each character, slowly advancing the plot. All the jumping causes the reader to feel discombobulated; you barely have time to realize which story you’re reading before she jumps back to someone else. It’s a distracting contrivance that she fortunately tones down in the final third of the book (although the contrivance is used successfully in the climactic battle scene).

Structural issues aside, Lost Souls fulfills the needs required of all middle books in a trilogy: it sets up the story for the final installment. We learn what Sebastian’s evil plan is, a vampiric threat looms in the background, and the characters are reaching important moments in their own lives. Soon they’ll have to make serious decisions that will impact their futures. The novel is also full of Easter eggs for Clare’s prequel series The Infernal Devices, which has some of the same characters (since they’re immortal).

City of Lost Souls may not be the best book in the series, but it will definitely leave you yearning for the final chapter in this series (which is due out next spring). And that’s really all we can ask of it.

 

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