Saturday, January 1, 2011
Page Count: 479 (hardcover)
Published: August 2010
(Book #1 of the Infernal Devices series)
Recommended for: fans of the Mortal Instruments series
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.
Considering how much I adore the Mortal Instruments series, I took a long time getting around to reading Clockwork Angel. I think somehow I was convinced it couldn't possibly live up to the Mortal Instruments series (or maybe it was just that hefty hardcover price). And after finishing it, I still don't think it did.
Here's why: this book is an enjoyable read-- it's endowed with likeable characters and a twisty plot, a little bit of humor, and an awesomely complex fantasy world in the Shadowhunters. But those likeable characters... they were all too familiar, for me. Let's see, there's Will (which I remember Clare commenting was the original name for Jace in the Mortal Instruments). To our MC Tessa, Will's an angsty, withdrawn, yet somehow irrestibly sexy Shadowhunter who obviously has big daddy issues. The only real difference between him and Jace is that Will lives in Victorian England, and he has black hair. He even quotes eerie poetry the way Jace does! Next up, we have Tessa Gray, an ordinary girl caught up in the Shadowhunter world when she is kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters. Tessa may be a previous incarnation of Clary-- she's not an exact carbon copy, but she's equally persistent, mildly aggravating, and equally devoted to her family. The catch is that Tessa's a Downworlder with the power to shapeshift into other people. That sounds really cool, except that Tessa hardly shifts but a few times over the course of 400 plus pages. Also in the cast, we have Jem-- Will's best friend, the only person he trusts, who harbors a dark secret of his own; Jessamine-- a bitchy but steadfast girl who's as skilled with a parasol as Isabelle is with a whip; and Henry, who actually reminded me more of Mr. Weasley from Harry Potter with his malfunctioning inventions.
All of this works for Clockwork Angel-- it's a fun and enthralling read with a Victorian setting and characters I really cared about, but that was probably, again, because they were so like the cast of the Mortal Instruments series. I just wish Cassandra Clare would've created new characters rather than play off her old ones. The one imported character I was really happy to see again was Magnus Bane, the snarky, flamboyant, centuries-old warlock who saves the Mortal Instruments gang's asses a million times in the series. He only makes a short appearance, but hopefully we'll see more of him in Clockwork Prince and City of Fallen Angels. I kind of wish Clare would write an entire book about Magnus and his past-- that would be fascinating.
Since it's a new year, I'm going to start using a new rating system, since my old one is kind of flawed. Basically I rate in four categories and then average them all to find the overall rating. So for Clockwork Angel...