Spoiler Alert! City of Fallen Angels is the fourth book in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Therefore, this review contains major spoilers for the previous books, but especially the third book, City of Glass. You have been warned.
The fourth book in the Mortal Instruments series, City of Fallen Angels opens with hope. Clary and Jace can finally be together (since it has been revealed that they are not siblings), Clary has begun her formal training as a Shadowhunter, Luke and Jocelyn (Clary’s mother) are set to be married in a couple of weeks, and the Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace. But every good bookworm knows that when a story starts out as idyllic, especially a fantasy, things are about to go sideways and fast.
Jace has been distant, someone is killing Shadowhunters and leaving the bodies strategically to provoke problems between the Shadowhunters and Downworlders, Simon’s mom knows he’s a vampire and she’s not taking it well. Then, when Clary starts investigating deeper, she gets thrown into a mystery and series of events that could destroy everything she and her friends and family have worked so hard to set right.
Right off the bat here, I have to talk about the way Cassandra Clare is incredible at expanding the world she has created. Each book is chockfull of new characters, new twists, and new places to explore. She does all of this without making her books feel overloaded by people, places, and things. She inserts new characters and situations while keeping with her main focus: Shadowhunters fighting against the forces of evil. I love that about Clare. I can tell she thought out the Mortal Instruments universe quite thoroughly.
Now that I have said that, let me talk about what I did not like. This and the previous book in the series kind of take a dip in quality. Even while Clare continues to do an excellent job of expanding the world she’s writing with each book (which keeps me from ever dipping below three stars with my ratings), she struggles with prioritizing her subplots within the main plot. The two main things that took up more room than they should have were once again, the Clary and Jace drama, and the Isabelle-Simon-Maia love triangle that was just an absolute mess.
With Clary and Jace, I see the importance of developing their relationship and steering it back into “this is okay, we can actually be together.” Also, things we learn in the second half of the book do explain a lot of Jace’s behavior in the book as a whole. But this relationship can seriously not catch a break. I can only hope the next two books put them on more stable ground. The love triangle was very out of character for all three characters involved, but especially for Simon. I do see the side of this where he’s coming into himself as a vampire, trying to figure things out, and learning life post-life-long-crush-on-Clary. But dating two girls at once was very out of character for Simon, and honestly just felt forced. Additionally, the fact that he really even was dating Maia was odd to me. It has always been Simon and Isabelle. Maia and Simon just didn’t seem to really have any chemistry, and they certainly did not fit well together.
Basically, I struggle with how Clare writes her romantic subplots. This may be because I’m in my mid-twenties, reading a book intended for teens, but I still fall under young adult, right? Right? Don’t answer that. 😉 Anyway, all of these issues may honestly just be that I’m emotionally past all of the teenage angst. I’m a loving, stable marriage, and am long past the days of “he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not,” awkward crushes, and angst upon angst. Or maybe Clare just focuses entirely too much on the teenage angst and not on her larger subplots. Either way, the romantic aspect of these books leaves something to be desired.
City of Fallen Angels gets 3/5 stars.