Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book Review: Clockwork Angel

Time for another book review! This one, like Etiquette & Espionage, is steampunk, but with a decidedly darker tone. I'd been meaning to read Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare for years, and when I finally got 'round to reading one of her books, it was her Mortal Instruments series. After finishing those I moved on to The Infernal Devices, but for whatever reason it didn't grab me at first, and after weeks not reading it, I came back to Clockwork Angel and absolutely loved it. So clearly there was something wrong with me, and not the book.

In terms of plot, this book is a bit more slow-moving than City of Bones, for example. There is a lot of the ol' exposition, and dialogue that serves no purpose but to explain things, etc. Which is typical of Cassie Clare, let's be honest, but it doesn't hinder the flow of the story too much. For those who have read The Mortal Instruments, and are considering reading this series, it's worth pointing out. The story follows Tessa Gray, an American teenager who travels to London to join her brother, who has been working there for a while. But instead of meeting him on the other side of the Pond, she's immediately abducted by a pair of sinister, creepy old ladies, the Dark Sisters. The Sisters inform Tessa that she has the crazy ability to turn into another person, physically and a bit mentally, and they force her to learn how to use her newfound ability. Eventually Tessa is rescued by a sexy yet emo and self-hating young Shadowhunter, and the action goes from there.

Overall it's the typical story of a teenager who finds out she has magical powers, tries to cope with them/use them, and also learns some crazy stuff about her family along the way. And, much like Etiquette & Espionage, there are vampires and werewolves. There are also demons and warlocks and things, and Shadowhunters (people with angel blood who fight demons and what have you) of course. So it's a bit of a paranormal/steampunk romance combo, all the better.

Tessa as a protagonist is quite likable, although I felt she faded into the background occasionally. She is, admittedly, a Victorian young lady and is somewhat constrained by what she thinks a lady ought or ought not to do/think/etc. I actually quite liked that about her, but she has just enough spunk (I hate that word) to make her a likable character. She definitely knows what she wants and she goes for it, which is more than we can say for many YA female leads, and that's a bonus. In the end, though, I still feel as though I don't know much about her aside from her interest in novels, and her love for her brother Nathaniel.

The main subplot is a romance, as you've concluded, though I'm not sure how I feel about it. There's a love triangle (of course), but it's much more reserved and anguished than what we had going on in The Mortal Instruments. Very Victorian, unsurprisingly. Tessa compares Will Herondale, her main love interest and resident bad boy, to Heathcliff and Mr Darcy at one point, which is apt, although Will seems a bit more pathetic than the aforementioned. He is only a teenager, after all, though it's hinted that he has a ~dark past~ and is super tortured about it. Will's general air of self-loathing and antagonism makes him difficult to like, despite his dark blue eyes, wild black hair, and devil-may-care attitude. I want to fall in love with the romantic lead along with the protagonist, so this was a bit annoying, but Will is just charming enough to make me like him (though not love him). Jem Carstairs, on the other hand, is a wholly intriguing character who suffers from an "ailment" that I will not name, but which is actually far more interesting than you'd guess. He only truly comes into his own by the third act, which is a shame, but he does spend a lot of his time languishing in bed so I suppose he can be forgiven.

I'm sure we'll learn more about Jem and Will in the next book in the series, which I intend to purchase come payday! And then you'll hear my thoughts about it. Until then, if you enjoy YA romance, steampunk, paranormal romance, or any combination thereof, you should definitely check this one out. It's very enjoyable, it has some great light-hearted moments, and even more emo/tortured/I-love-you-but-I-can't-have-you moments. Oh and they fight vampires at one point. Highly recommended!


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