Book Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices, #1)

Title: Clockwork Angel

Author: Cassandra Clare

Available In: eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook, Paperback, Hardcover, Audio CD

Warnings: PG-13 for violence, sexual content, and Magnus Bane’s existence.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND STRONG, HONEST OPINIONS. ALSO, DECLARATIONS OF LOVE FOR CERTAIN CHARACTERS.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

When I first picked up Clockwork Angel, I had not yet realized that this book was a prequel to The Mortal Instruments series. I’m kind of glad I didn’t; since I’ve only read City of Bones, my inclination would have been to put the book down and read the rest of TMI first. I kept going, however, and was pleased to discover that my very basic working knowledge of the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders was enough to carry me through this book.

The story opens with our heroine, Tessa, sailing from the familiar streets of New York City to the unfamiliar atmosphere of London Town at the behest of her brother Nathaniel and in the wake of her beloved aunt’s death. Tessa’s already nervous enough about leaving the city that has been her home, and when she is met at the docks by a sinister pair of women who claim to be acting on Nathaniel’s behalf, she is understandably perturbed. She goes along with it, however, thinking that surely Nathaniel knows best. It turns out, however, that the Dark Sisters are interested in her for their own reasons– particularly, her strange power to Change into others at will.

And when Tessa meets Will Herondale, a young Shadowhunter, she discovers that the Dark Sisters aren’t the only ones intrigued by her…

Overall, I really thought this book was much better than City of Bones. I liked Tessa more as a main character than I liked Clary—mainly because there is no reason for Clary to be as passive as she is given that she’s a modern gal. Tessa, on the other hand, is very much a classical Gothic heroine, bound by society’s expectations but determined to fight back, and towards the end of the book, she really has started to grow a backbone of steel. I am also completely in love with Jem, and the love triangle that Clare has set up is delicious. Throw in the lovingly researched alt-London setting and the demon-killing badassery that characterized TMI and we have a real winner here. I’m definitely looking forward to Clockwork Prince.

Pros

  • The clockwork angel pendant is such a lovely concept.
  • Henry. I adore mad scientists, and Henry’s ineptitude makes me snicker.
  • The fact that Tessa is a book lover. Rock on, bookworm girl. Unfortunately, the real world is not like the novels, which sucks.
  • JEM. ❤ I just cannot get over how much I love this guy. He’s just so sweet, and brave, and so DEAD at some point in the future. I always go for the doomed ones.
  • Sophie. I love her as a  character, and should Will/Tessa become a thing, I would love it if Clare threw in some Jem/Sophie—if it weren’t for the fact that Jem is so DEAD.
  • Jessamine’s killer parasol,  which is badass.
  • Henry/Charlotte. They are just so cute together, regardless of what people say about the reasons for their marriage. I do think they truly love one another, under all that—at least they’re happy.
  • The Institute’s family dynamic. I loved reading the bits where the “children” were spying on the Enclave meeting and Jessamine and Will’s brother-sister bickering.
  • Magnus Bane. Who needs no explanation. All I can say is, the Victorian era suits him. AND CHURCH! ❤
  • Jessamine clonking Nate. I was cheering for her. Out loud.
  • Tessa’s London is lovingly researched and beautifully portrayed. It’s a world I would love to take a holiday in, and I applaud Clare for her efforts to make it as historically accurate as possible while still adding enough twists to make it just a little bit steampunk.

Cons

  • Tessa’s kind of passive in the early parts of the book, almost in a bodice-ripper heroine sort of way, which always makes me cringe a bit. She gets better as the book goes on, though, so I’m hoping to see her gain even more awesomeness in book 2.
  • Occasionally, the exposition in this book is rather unwieldy, with long portions of dialogue that are nothing more than one character telling another how the world works.
  • Some descriptive words are used repetitively, i.e. Jem’s silvery eyes.
  • The prose could be made a little tighter and neater, by cutting unnecessary descriptors and sentences, especially when they do nothing but reiterate what a character has just said/done.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars out of 5.

Final Grade: A. Would reread, will definitely read other books in series.

(My review of Clockwork Prince is now live! Click to read….)

Book Review: “Incarcercon” by Catherine Fisher

Title: Incarceron

Author: Catherine Fisher

Warnings: PG 13 for violence and swearing.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND STRONG, HONEST OPINIONS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I have long held the opinion that when you are reading/reviewing a book, the question that you should be asking is not “Is this book good/bad/decent/awesome?”

Rather, the question should be “What makes this book good/bad/decent/awesome?”

In the case of Incarceron, there are many different factors that make it awesome. The best thing about this book? All of these factors come together to form a cohesive whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

The story is a dual narrative, alternating between  two worlds that Fisher balances  wonderfully. Finn is the amnesiac “seer” of a gang within the living prison of Incarceron. Claudia is the entitled daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, attempting to escape an arranged marriage within the equally restrictive society of Outside. At first, there is very little that connects them, but as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that they are, in fact, rather intimately linked. Joined by allies such as Jared, Keiro, and Attia, Finn attempts to find a method of escape from Incarceron, while Claudia investigates its mysteries and discovers that she is far more entangled in Incarceron’s web than she initially believed.

Overall, the plot was a little bit predictable, the dual narrative a bit fiddly, but it was, for the most part, a lovely read. The brilliance of this book is that its strengths far outweigh its flaws, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the sequel, Sapphique.

Pros

  • The worldbuilding alone is gorgeous. Obviously, Fisher is an adept in this department; she has a deft touch that permeates both the restrictive Era-focused society of the Outside and the chaotic and cutthroat environment of Incarceron. Her through knowledge of mythology and history also shines through, and her ability to weave these small references into her narrative is astounding.
  • The concept of Incarceron as a being in its own right is neatly executed. I love that it kind of has its own personality, rather than being a faceless rumbling beast ala The Devil in season 2 of Doctor Who.
  • Jared. The dude is a Badass Bookworm despite the fact that he’s got a death sentence hanging over his head. Sickly academics don’t have a whole lot of survival potential in vaguely dystopian/steampunk worlds such as this one, so I’m already steeling myself for the moment that I have to watch him die.
  • Keiro. Keiro’s one of those rough-and-tumble types who give tough love a whole new meaning, but he really does seem to care deeply about the people around him, particularly Finn/Giles. I would like to see him get some POV time in Sapphique, as I feel there is really some untapped potential in his character. (Also, I could totally see Keiro/Attia being a thing, oddly enough.)
  • Claudia. Claudia is the type of girl I like to read about– strong-willed and smart, if occasionally a bit rash. The twist to her storyline was wonderfully executed, and I’d love to see what Fisher does with it from here on out. I’d also like to see Claudia get more chances to be a badass in book 2, just because.
  • Fisher’s fast-paced prose and neatly executed — if slightly predictable– plot are, along with her worldbuilding, the best technical aspects of the book.  And the last line is pitch-perfect!

Cons

  • The dual narrative is jarring at first, and since I was far more into Claudia than Finn, there were places where I’d see that the next chapter was Finn’s and just roll my eyes. Starting around page 105, the POV’s started to become more cohesive, and from page 137 onward, it works.
  • The Queen. As a villain, she was frankly unimpressive, more SnowWhite!Evil Queen than the level of character that I’d come to expect by the time she appeared.
  • Finn can sometimes come off as a bit whiny and unlikeable, and the Finn-is-Giles plot was definitely one of the weakest and most predictable. I’m hoping that he grows more of a spine in book 2, and that he becomes involved in some slightly more complicated subplots.
  • The POV occasionally changes from what appears to be third person focused to third person omniscient without much warning, especially toward the end.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars out of 5.

Final Grade: A.  Would reread. Will definitely read the sequel(s).

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