A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the Mortal Instruments series has always been meant for more mature teen readers. But with some extra sexual content and a couple of scenes of irresponsible drinking and drug use, City of Lost Souls ages up even a bit more. The series continues to be bloody and violent: Nephilim battle demons, hacking away at limbs -- and, almost grosser, the bad guys drink blood together. There's also some sexual violence against the main character. But there's more focus on the non-violent sexual activities of four couples. For the gay couple that lives together, only kissing is described, but the straight couples either have sex (nakedness and kissing described) or come very passionately close and talk about it. Nervous about talking to her boyfriend, one girl gets very drunk. And in a club, faerie drugs induce sexual euphoria followed by horrible hallucinations. Amid the demon fighting and relationship angst there's a deeper core, though: Clary and friends will do anything to save someone they love.
What's the story?
At the end of City of Fallen Angels, Jace disappeared with Sebastian, Clary's brother made evil with demon blood. Clary fears for Jace and has decided to do anything to get him back, but she's warned that he won't be at all like himself. He had been forced into a twinning ceremony, which subjects a now shell-like version of Jace to Sebastian's will and, worse, means you can't kill one without killing the other. Clary, still bent on saving Jace while finding out what evil Sebastian is up to, joins them in Europe, all the while secretly communicating with her best friend, Simon, through special faerie rings. Meanwhile, Simon and a host of friends, Nephilim and Downworlder alike, are trying to find a weapon that can sever the connection between Jace and Sebastian and bring Jace back to himself. They literally search heaven and hell for what they need, but will they find it before Sebastian sets his nefarious plans in motion?
Is it any good?
There's something about Mortal Instruments 5 -- aka CITY OF LOST SOULS -- that's a little lost, waiting to build up to another finale in the next book.
After the death of a major villain (Clary's dad, Valentine) and an all-demons/Nephilim/werewolves/vampires-on-deck war of the ages in Mortal Instruments 3, Mortal Instruments 4 had a lot to live up to. The storyline got a little cultish and weird, but it was still quite exciting. And the ending was rather jaw-dropping.
In Book 5, Clary being forced to live with her super scary part-demon brother should be super scary, but for most of the time it's a pleasant tour through Europe (OK, with the occasional demon fighting, but still). And then there's the steamy filler. Yeah, it's great to see Maia and Jordan get together, and Isabelle think more seriously about Simon, but they're just tangents. That said, the main story does end in Cassandra Clare's usual spectacular fashion. She knows how to do a big finish while dropping all kinds of hints about the wild dangers to come in the next installment. You just need to wade through most of Europe and plenty of rumpled bed sheets to get there.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Mortal Instruments series so far. Are you excited for the conclusion? Are you reading the prequel series, The Infernal Devices, as well? Which do you like better?
In one scene, Isabelle gets really drunk when she's nervous about talking to Simon. Why do you think she decided to do that? Are the consequences realistic?
There's a lot of blood to wade through in this series. Does it feel less violent because it's a book instead of a movie or a video game? Fantasy instead of reality? Or does it all affect you the same way?
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