Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am almost embarrassed to give this book such a good review given how abundantly clear I have made my hatred of the original Mortal Instruments series. But this series, astoundingly also by Cassandra Clare, is everything I liked about TMI (the fantasy and worldbuilding) minus everything I hated (namely, Clary, Jace, and Simon).
Infernal Devices takes everything from the world of TMI and sets it in 1800s London. Even though we only get glimpses of the mundane world through the course of the characters' actions, it's clear that Clare has done her research. The Shadowhunter's world melds so well with this time period, given all the sense of obligation and propriety they carry as a culture, it fits in perfectly with our leading lady in a world that is equally restricting to young women like herself.
The plot, too, was far more interesting than TMI in my opinion. Jumping on the bandwagon of Steampunk Victorian London, TID's main baddy is (view spoiler)[raising a clockwork army, and if that isn't badass, I don't know what is (hide spoiler)]. The secondary conflict before I get into the other characters is that Tessa Gray doesn't know what manner of being she is. This was handled in a refreshingly new way; it wasn't just like Clary where she stumbled into a magical world and surprise! She's a shadowhunter! Tessa actually doesn't fit the mold of anything that exists and by the end of this first book, I still have no idea what she is.
Since I've raved so far about the characters, I'm actually going to take the time to review some of the main ones individually.
Tessa Gray - She's the leading lady and unlike a lot of historical fiction, she actually befits her customs and time period. I like that she's a New Yorker in London, so there is a bit of otherwordlyness to her, but she still fits into the propriety of women of the time and doesn't have grand ideas about being a warrior. So far in the series, she's fairly plain, but I didn't find myself minding that so much. She reacts reasonably to all the weird things happening to her and handles a lot of it admirably. I'm sure she'll have a lot more growth in the next two books for such an empty slate.
Will Herondale - Will, Will, Will. What do I say about him? He's the edgy bad boy of the story, a Jace clone if you will, but there seems to be something a bit more to him. There are times where this boy seems generally insane, not just *edgy*, which could be interesting. Now I'm not saying that he's not tall dark and sexy, but he's also rubbing me the wrong way in the possibility of leading down a Twilight/Fifty Shades esque romantacized abusive and manipulative love interest. Please can we not let this happen? I'm holding out my judgement until next book.
Jem Carstairs - Oh lordy do I love this character! He's quiet, gentle, and good-natured, yet at the same time a Shadowhunter and Will's parabatai. Despite my reservations about Will, their relationship is one of the best male friendships I've read in a long time. As parabatai they're obviously closer than just two friends, but they share something far more than Jace and Alec do in TMI. They completely balance each other and almost think alike. So for Will to be so crazy, it says a lot about Jem's character that he loves that boy so much. Which brings me to: why doesn't Tessa love him? I see the love triangle coming and oh god, for once I just want the girl to make the right damn choice.
Magnus Bane - He's back! 110% the only reason I got through three books of TMI. I'm psyched that Bane seems to be a pivotal part of this plot too!
Charlotte - I'm adding her in because of everyone introduced so far, she's the only character I singularly hate. She, along with her husband, is in charge of the London Institute, but it is well known that she is a headstrong woman who only married so she could have power she would not be granted were she single. Yet everyone seems to be okay with this? She completely emotionally abuses her husband who is an adorkable inventer, yet everyone, even an outsider like Tessa and someone as kind-hearted as Will, go around saying "Poor Charlotte, why does the Clave dislike her so?" Just because she's a woman in a patriarchal culture doesn't give her an excuse to be horrible. Bleh.
I'm avoiding a lot of plot points for the sake of spoilers, namely the pursuit of The Magister (which has some great twists) and Tessa's brother Nate, which was also exciting to read. Suffice to say that this book got a genuine 4-stars out of me. I'll be doing my best to read the rest of the series without any bias toward Clare's other works and I'd encourage others who didn't enjoy TMI to do the same!
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