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Cassandra Clare – Clockwork Prince

February 10, 2012

11. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (2011)
The Infernal Devices, Book 2

Read my review of book:
1. Clockwork Angel

Read By: Ed Westwick & Heather Lind
Length: 15h 34m (528 pages)

Genre: YA Historical Steampunk-y Fantasy

Started: 20 January 2012
Finished: 31 January 2012

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I really enjoyed Clockwork Angel, and liked the Mortal Instruments series as well.

Clockwork robots AND
two hot young gentlemen? Some
girls have all the luck.

Summary: In the wake of Mortmain’s disastrous attack, the Shadowhunter council is questioning Charlotte’s ability to run the London Institute. The case against her is being brought by Benedict Lightwood, who wants control of the Institute for himself, and demands that Charlotte and the Shadowhunters under her care produce evidence of Mortmain’s current location within the next two weeks, or else step down. Tessa Grey, despite not being a Shadowhunter herself vows to help the people she’s come to see as her family any way she can… but it’s hard when her emotions are in such knots. After Will Herrondale’s rude and hurtful behavior, she’s vowed to herself not to let herself be affected by him, but she can’t help but be drawn to him… almost as much as she is drawn to the frail but good-hearted Jem Carstairs, Will’s best friend and blood-brother.

Review: Clockwork Angel was the first of Cassandra Clare’s books that I’d read, and I really enjoyed it… enough that I promptly went out and read through the Mortal Instruments trilogy, which I liked well enough, but didn’t hold a candle (witchlight?) to Clockwork Angel. Part of that is certainly that on general principles, I prefer Victorian London to modern-day NYC, but I can safely say that most of it is due to the wonderful, sympathetic, well-developed characters in the Infernal Devices books. And it’s a good thing that I like them so much, because Clockwork Prince is very heavily focused on the characters and their relationships.

Yes, it’s a love triangle. Yes, love triangles have been more-or-less done to death, especially in teen fantasy fiction. But even so, I spent a lot of the book thinking “now this is how you do a love triangle”. Love triangles work best when it’s a true triangle, rather than an arrow; the bond between the two guys has to be equally (if not more) strong than the bond between either of the guys and the girl. That’s absolutely the case here; Will and Jem’s relationship is one of the more interesting and moving relationships in the series, and neither one would be who he is without the presence of the other. Added in to that the fact that Tessa has valid, believable feelings for (and massively steamy make-out sessions with) both of them, and you’ve got a truly heart-wrenching love triangle, with no obvious solution. (Well, except the smutty one, but I doubt even the comparably looser Shadowhunter moral code stretches that far.) I think Clare’s pretty obvious about which couple is going to end up together, but in this case, that surprisingly worked in her favor, since I spent maybe the last third of the book in cringing agony, waiting for the other shoe to drop and Tessa to start breaking hearts.

As much as I got sucked in to the interpersonal storylines, I did at points wish there was a little more plot. Mortmain is absent for more-or-less the entire book, and while we do get some answers – mostly hints about Tessa’s parentage – it didn’t feel like there was a ton of movement on any of the series’s main story threads. Granted, I was too absorbed in the Will/Tessa/Jem situation (as well as the stories involving the other characters; also: yay Magnus!) to notice at the time, but in retrospect, not a ton of non-relationship stuff happened.

I was kind of ambivalent on the audiobook production. It was narrated by Heather Lind and Ed Westwick, who both did fine jobs (although I didn’t love Ed’s voice for Tessa). Initially, I assumed that Lind would read Tessa’s POV scenes, and Westwick would read the boys’ scenes; that narrator-split-by-gender is pretty common in multi-narrated books. However, there seemed to be not a lot of rhyme or reason to who read what, sometimes switching in the middle of a chapter or a scene, sometimes one reading for several chapters in a row, so that the net effect of having multiple narrators was more distracting than beneficial. Despite that, though, this was on the whole the kind of book that kept me looking for excuses to listen to more, so I can’t ask for much more than that. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: This definitely needs to be read in order after Clockwork Angel, but I’d recommend the series to anyone who likes historical teen fantasy, or love triangles done right.

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First Line: The fog was thick, muffling sound and sight.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2012 9:07 am

    These books are way out of my comfort zone, but I want to try them anyway. The author did an event here and the room was filled with squealing teens. Literally. I want to know what had them all so excited.

    • February 23, 2012 3:54 pm

      Oh, I bet there were squealing teens! I like the historical series better, but I’ll be curious to see what you think about whichever you decide to read!

  2. February 10, 2012 9:31 am

    I’m kind of all done with love triangles, too, but this one actually sounds decent! I keep seeing this books everywhere, so maybe it’s about time I read one :) Great review.

    • February 23, 2012 3:55 pm

      Maybe I’m just tired of boring, poorly done love triangles? :)

  3. February 10, 2012 11:04 pm

    I’m curious about the “love triangles done right” aspect of your recommendation. Nice way of putting it! :)

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