City of Fallen Angels: The Mortal Instruments, Book 4

Common Sense Media says

Exciting entry in bestselling series has creepy cult stuff.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Hamlet is quoted a few times, with some other literary and Bible mentions, especially the story of Cain and Abel. As with the rest of the series, vampire, angel, demon, fairy, and werewolf lore is all combined. Readers can explore how the author's version of these mythical and biblical characters compares with other stories.

Positive messages

Many characters grapple with heavy lessons about how to make up for past bad decisions, self-acceptance, forgiveness, and how to find your place in the world. The book also explores the strength of love to overcome evil as demons try to divide and conquer.

Positive role models

The main characters are full of angst in this book and must overcome feelings of isolation (in Simon's case), self-doubt (Clary), and self-loathing (Jace). Clary and Jace's relationship definitely takes a step backward as Jace closes himself off when he worries about her safety instead of confiding in Clary right away. They all work through it and major and minor characters come together and look out for each other when it's a matter of life and death.

Violence

Demon-fighting is a constant in this series, but it's on a smaller scale here. Demons are stabbed with special swords, heads severed, spewing gross demon blood. Babies whose mothers were given demon blood are born with claws for hands and die quickly. Possession that causes self-injury (stabbing). A cult of demon-worshippers sacrifices themselves. Vampires feast on blood and talk of the lure of human over animal blood. Some violence mixed with the sexual tension that is later explained.

Sex

Clary and Jace embrace passionately a couple times, legs intertwined, shirts off. A boyfriend gets jealous of his boyfriend's past relationships; they kiss. Simon and Isabelle kiss. Isabelle and Clary talk about using protection when Clary takes the next step with Jace.

Language

No "f" words but everything else a few times: "bastard," "dammit," "goddammit," "asshole," "bitch."

Consumerism

Video games mentioned, iPod, and some NYC landmarks.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Wine and champagne drunk by teens and adults. Mention of pot. Simon feels like he's high after drinking blood.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is the fourth book in the bestselling Mortal Instruments series -- and the first in a second cycle that will include three books. While the previous installment was full of demon-Nephilim battles, this one takes the violence to a creepier place with the Nephilim (humans who have angel blood) fighting against some serious cult activity: demon-worshipping to the point of sacrificing babies to the cause. This leads to nightmarish imagery of dead babies with claws for hands. Consistent with the other books, there's plenty of blood -- drunk by vampires, sacrificed, spewed everywhere, and mixed to create superbeings. There's also more sexual energy in this one (mostly straight but some gay as well); using protection is mentioned but characters don't have sex. Main characters grapple with feelings of isolation, self-loathing, and self-doubt but come together to fight against evil and reaffirm their important connections to each other.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

At the end of book three, characters were in the Glass City of Idris after a big battle with demons and the evil Valentine. Back in New York City, characters try to re-imagine their lives. Clary is training at the institute for the first time, Simon is trying to live a semi-normal life (while hiding his stash of blood from his mom), and Jace is working on his relationship skills with Clary while trying to remind himself that he isn't like the psychopath who raised him. But evil forces are at work, with Jace invaded by strange and violent dreams where he's afraid for Clary's life, Simon visited by a very old and very powerful vampire who nearly compels his alliance with her, and Clary using her ruin-creating abilities to uncover a cult that tampers with the unborn like they did with her own brother.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

After the nail-biting, demon-demolishing, evil-vanquishing conclusion to the first cycle, book four had a lot to live up to. It builds pretty slowly but steadily, surfacing new evil forces to fight and drawing on quite a bit of relationship angst to propel the characters -- maybe a bit too much when it comes to Jace and Clary. While the cult activity and dead claw-handed babies will definitely give readers the creeps, CITY OF ANGELS keeps the series full of light moments and humor for contrast.  And the new villains are just as complex as Valentine, but female this time, a fun twist and a reminder of the series' appeal to both boys and girls.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about all cult imagery in this book. For those practicing a religion, is it hard to read about? Is it more jarring than the straight-out demon fighting?

  • Families can also talk about the popularity of this series. If you've read the first cycle of three -- that ended like a complete trilogy -- were you wondering/worrying/excited with what the next cycle would hold? Were you happy or disappointed with the direction the author took with the series?

  • Families can also talk about Clary and Jace's very intense relationship. Is all that self-doubt and worry typical of teen relationships, or over the top?

Book details

Author:Cassandra Clare
Genre:Fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Margaret K. McElderry
Publication date:April 5, 2011
Number of pages:424
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17
Read aloud:14
Read alone:14

This review of City of Fallen Angels: The Mortal Instruments, Book 4 was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
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  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bybookLUVA July 16, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Good pleasure books

I really enjoyed these books. They're not exactly supposed to teach you something, but they were good pleasure books. I suggest reading the series just for something to do if you'd rather not watch TV all day.
Teen, 14 years old Written bynoveleater May 10, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

A wonderful second cycle in the six- book

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written bypoe-ette April 19, 2012
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

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