October 05, 2010

Review: CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare

Young Adult
Margaret K. McElderry
Hardcover, 496 pages
August 31, 2010 (in stores now)

From Amazon.com:

Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

The cover: A mashup of dreary London, mysterious light, a machinated angel, and a Victorian-era gentleman with swirling marks on his body; the cover is beautiful, complex, and, until you've read the book, incredibly cryptic. However, I wonder why Tessa, the main character, is not featured on the cover. It could simply be for marketing purposes (to make it stand apart from other covers or to attract male readers, perhaps?).

According to Clare's FAQ, the second book in the series, CLOCKWORK PRINCE, will feature James on the cover, and the third, CLOCKWORK PRINCESS, will feature Tessa, so I guess we'll have to wait and see what it all means.

The book: I'll be honest: I've never been particularly interested in reading Clare's work. I was afraid of investing all that time into yet another super-popular series. Every time someone recommended it, TWILIGHT-shrill alarm bells sounded in my head. But I'd bought the MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series for my aunt for Christmas and she was enjoying it, so when the opportunity to read the ARC of CLOCKWORK arose, I figured I'd give it a try.

I'm glad I did. Clare's writing style is rich and descriptive, without being overly so. Many of her metaphors were so unique, I had to stop and soak them in a moment (not because they were undecipherable, but because they were lovely). I also enjoyed her use of vocabulary, which wasn't so heavy-handed that it felt like SAT prep, but was varied enough that I saw a few words I hadn't thought of in a long while, and even looked a few up. Some writers mistakenly dumb-down YA, thinking teens can't keep up with their intellectual pace; Ms. Clare knows better.

Tessa, Will, James (called Jem) and the rest of the Shadowhunter group are well-rounded characters that pop off the page. The plot moves quickly, and the twisty final hundred pages demands to be read in a single session.

The only thing that bugged me about the book was the love triangle that is hinted at in the jacket description. I never actually felt Tessa being torn between Will and Jem (maybe slightly confused?), and if there was a love triangle, it was a most unusual one in that it severely lacked internal drama. As I said about the cover, I suppose we'll just have to see how it turns out in the next two books.

Regardless, I can't wait to read the rest of THE INFERNAL DEVICES, as well as THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS. Not that she needs them at this point, but Ms. Clare has a new fan.

Especially recommended for: Fans of THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series; lovers of urban fantasy and steampunk.

ARC courtesy of Traveling ARC Tours.


Sandy Shin said...

This was also the first of Clare's novels that I tried, and I will certainly come back for more. :)

Miss Page-Turner said...

Hey glad you enjoyed Clockwork Angel:)I was already a huge fan of Clare (TMI) when I started Clockwork Angel.Your review emphasizes very interesting points of Clare's writing. I totally agree on her rich and descriptive writing style( alreday loved it in TMI).
And I missed the love triangle, too.As you said, we'll have to wait what happens to Jem, Will and Tessa in the next two books.
I've reviewed Clockwork Angel aswell...if you like to read it, just visit: http://misspageturnerscityofbooks.blogspot.com/2010/09/book-review-clockwork-angel-by_29.html

Let me know when you read The Mortal Instruments series and how you liked it?

Pam Harris said...

I've been hearing so many great things about this week. I think it's time for me to crack down and try to read it. :)

NiaRaie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Claire Dawn said...

I kinda felt this way about Hunger Games. Unwilling to jump on the bandwagon, but then I was glad I did. Things are popular for a reason.

(Sadly, I actually like Twilight. It's a fab fairy tale.)

Abby Stevens said...

Sandy - Definitely!

Miss Page-Turner - I am going to check out your review now! Thanks for stopping by!

Pam - It's definitely a great read. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

NiaRaie - I think you're right! Especially since he's going to be on the cover of CLOCKWORK PRINCE, I believe.

PS - Since part of your comment might be a bit of a spoiler for some, I am going to delete and repost without the last bit!

Claire - I like Twilight, too (except the last 100 pages or so of BD). I think what spoiled Twilight a little for me was all the hoopla surrounding the movies and people being madly in love with Edward and Jacob. :(

And I agree, usually things are popular for a reason!

Abby Stevens said...

[Originally posted by NiaRaie]

I just finished the book today and you're right there isn't really a love triangle, but I do sense that her relationship with Jem will involve into something more romantic. I was just worried about him [redacted for possible spoiler purposes]!

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