Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

So this is my first book by Cassandra Clare. I know, a lot of you are probably sitting there and going "What?!". Or perhaps, "But, Kat! You've talked about City of Bones before." Yes, that is true. But have you ever heard the phrase "We got off on the wrong foot."? That applies here, was years ago, and (thank God) was an opinion I kept to myself. It was also (shockingly!) formed based on others opinions rather then from reading a book. So I am viewing this as a fresh start.

There are several little trickling events that lead to me reading Clockwork Angel. It started, actually, with wishing I'd had the book when Mundie Moms -- who hosted a great chat with Leigh Fallon a few months back -- did a read-along of the book. I really should have gotten this and participated. *sigh* Anyway, the next thing was Joanne from The Fairytale Nerd recommending it. I've gotten to a point where I listen to her when she suggests stuff to me. She suggested Tiger's Curse and The Iron King and I loved them both.

The last straw, of course, was my kryptonite, which is being a shopaholic. I picked up Clockwork Prince because it was 30% off at WalMart and the cover is so pretty! (Yes, even I can succumb to cover lust now and then...) That sorta pinned me in. I couldn't just have another book lying around for no reason. (Seriously, when I talk about a TBR pile I literally *mean* a TBR pile...) So when I went out on Boxing Day, this was tops on my must buy list. And thanks to assistance from the fabulous people at Chapters, I got it.

Now, I know that's a lot more preamble then I tend to give when I review something. I hope some of you enjoyed it. For those looking to get to the heart of the matter, here is my review!

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
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 book immediately drew me in. This was an absolute Godsend because I must tell you all, I was very nervous to start this one. I don't read a lot of historical, or even 'borrowing from history' fiction -- rather strange since I actually love history -- and I also had the baggage I talked about at the start of the review to deal with. I was very anxious to find out what I would think of this book. What would my take on it be?

Well, I didn't end up with a lot of time to worry about any of that. I was immediately drawn to Tessa as a character and I felt deeply for her situation. I was horrified at how she was tricked and from there I felt like I was walking beside her as she began to navigate London and the people that she met and spent time with there. 

I think that the pacing in the book was very solid, and liked how Cassandra Clare had no trouble shifting between scenes that were more focused on driving the plot and more laid back (plot wise) scenes that were more focused on the growth of the character. I especially liked how she also never really allowed a scene to be strictly one thing or the other. There was an almost dance-like quality to how everything moved forward. This lead to me reading a 476 page book in one day. I think the last time I did that was back in August with Divergent. 

As someone who has not read The Mortal Instrument books I was curious as to whether I would have trouble understanding what was happening here. But yet again, I felt that Cassandra did a great job of making sure that things made sense and were well explained without bogging the story down. I do have to say that I was a bit taken back by how many different types of supernatural beings populated the story world, but since Cassandra seems careful not to overload these on the reader all at once my fears were quickly put to rest. 

Another thing that I thought was really great was how she set things up and then had them become important later on. I don't want to list any of this for fear of ruining the book for other readers. Surely I'm not the only person left on earth who hadn't read this? (If you haven't, seriously, go do that.)

The Characters: 

I found Tessa to be a likable heroine. She is not, at least in this book (perhaps hanging out with Shadowhunters will rub off later?) a get-up-in-your-face-and-kick-butt heroine, but she had a spine, she had smarts and she stuck to her guns about what she wanted. I liked the fact that she could be both strong and vulnerable. I liked the fact that she stood up to other characters who were capable of fighting without fear that she should not do this. 

I also found it endearing watching her struggle between trying to be a 'proper' Victorian lady and accepting that she might not be a warrior, but she definitely has a warrior spirit that -- when push comes to shove -- will not just lay down and die. Writing a heroine who is not immediately physically heroic in a fantasy tale and making her come across as strong is *hard* and I have to give Cassandra Clare a huge round of applause here because she succeeded admirably with Tessa. 

Will was 'alright'. He is not really my kind of hero, although I am intrigued to know more about his past and I must be honest and tell you that if I know more about what makes him the way it is -- and if I see him grow past this and become something better and stronger -- he could have potential. I found his interactions with Tessa frustrating more then anything and considering the way he behaved I honestly don't get what she sees in him. I would also love to know what the heck the conversation at the end of the book was about, but I can say no more then that without risking the review, so I'll zip it.

But that's totally okay. Because along with Will we get Jem and oh my God I am obsessed beyond words! Jem may well be the sweetest most utterly charming hero that I have ever had the pleasure of reading about within a paranormal or fantasy novel. I found the fact that Jem has a disability and continues to fight despite the cost absolutely heartbreaking. But as I came to understand why (sorry there, my lips are sealed!) it only made me respect him more. I also loved how he managed to have such a sweet, kind personality despite all that he has been through and is currently going through. 

Normally I'd just give a nod to the rest of the characters in a book and be done. But not here. The rest of the cast -- Charlotte, Henry, Sophie, etc. are all just as equally fabulous and interesting to read about as our leading lady and her two love interests. This is what blew me away and kept me completely riveted. Clockwork Angel possesses some of the finest characterization that I have ever had the pleasure to read and I found myself deeply connected to these people and their lives. I laughed with them. I wanted to throw things at them at times. And I cried with them when bad things happened. That's the mark of a truly gifted storyteller. 

The Romance: 

Tessa, you silly silly girl. This is the one area where I am terrified that we don't see eye to eye. Or perhaps you just don't see? I'm not sure. Will is an immature dork and Sophie is totally right -- as is right here right now he is totally not worth your love. 

Jem, on the other hand? I'd trade you places in a heartbeat! (And considering all the crap I know you go through, and how big a wuss I know I am? That's saying something!) 

I will say this about the love triangle. I don't "know" who is going to end up together. It's not the sort of thing where it's blatantly obvious and one guy is totally wasting his time. Jem makes it clear to the reader that he notices Tessa, but he never really makes it clear to her. And she doesn't seem to be all that clued in regarding this sort of thing. 

The fact that I've actually taken a side is kind of surprising to me. I usually stay out of these sort of things. But I am so totally in awe of how amazing Jem is as a character that I can't maintain my neutrality. (Seriously, if you haven't read this yet, I once again urge you to do so. I want to *talk* about all of this but that's not what this post is for...) 

So, how did I like the romance in Clockwork Angel? Let me put it to you this way ... It's only an absolutely insane amount of self-discipline -- and the knowledge that the *next* book is ages away -- that keeps me from immediately reading Clockwork Prince to see what happens next. And I mean it's-sitting-on-my-bed-and-I-could-open-it-right-now-if-I-wanted-to tempted. 

In General: 

Do I sound just the slightest bit hyper in this review? Good! Because this book completely grabbed me, hook line and sinker, and I want to make sure that is abundantly clear. This was a book that was an absolute joy to read, the kind of story that makes me glad that I am a reader and a book blogger and that reminds me of all the reasons why I do all of this crazy stuff and run this blog.

So, do I recommend Clockwork Angel? Well ... Do birds fly? Do fish swim? Do I love Pizza Hut's breadstix with cheese? (That's a loud and emphatic yes, for those who don't know me well.) Clockwork Angel combines a strong willed memorable heroine, a fascinating mythology, and an epic adventure into a whole that will leave you unable to put the book down. A strong suggestion: Don't start this one with the intention of shortly going to bed. 

Fifth Recipient Of...

1. Tessa proves you don't have to be physically strong to be a strong and capable heroine.

2. Jem is a distinct and memorable love interest who proves that a sweet and caring guy can win over (this) reader's heart. (Seriously, he is such a refreshing change!)

3. Careful blending of both mythology and historical details so that they enrich the overall flavor of the tale.

4. An intriguing plot that creates as many questions as it answers, making me absolutely itch to tear open the sequel. 

5. This book had a can't-put-down factor that made me read the entire 476 page thing in a single sitting. That's not the way I normally read a book! 


  1. Ooh I still have to read this one! Sounds to have a great cast of characters! I really enjoyed MI series so I can't see not liking this one.

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  2. I can't wait to see what you think of Clockwork Prince. I'm curious if any of your opinions will change once you do so...

  3. I literally agree with EVERYTHING you said in this review. You wrote it better than I did !

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