Title: Clockwork Angel
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Publication Date: 2010
Why I Read It
MiniQ suggested another one. 🙂 She bought this one after going through a dry spell in which she only read what was required by school. We were at B&N and she decided to find a book on her own. She picked up this one, mainly because of its cover and the idea of Shadowhunters, which intrigued her. Two days later, after being holed up in her room with just the book to read, she emerged and frantically exclaimed, “I need book two!” Of course, we couldn’t run right out and buy Clockwork Prince, so I ended up checking the high school library where I work. They didn’t have the CP, but they did have the first four books of The Mortal Instruments series. I checked the first one out and she devoured all four books within a week and a half. It took her a bit of coaxing to get me to read it, but I finally did.
MiniQ will be posting her own review soon. And, she is less than pleased with my rating and review 😉 .
What I Liked
I love historical novels. One of my undergrad degrees is in history and I have taught history (and English/LA) for 9 years. Even with my history background, I am NOT one of those readers who nitpicks historical inaccuracies. Why? Because a work of fiction is just that. I do appreciate authors, like Cassandra Clare, who take the time to point out what is real and imagined in their historical worlds.
In this novel, Clare’s writing artfully illustrates late 19th century London in which mundanes (humans) and Downworlders, the Nephilim, and other magical communities must exist together. For those who are familiar with Charlane Harris’ Snookie novels or Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series (my preference), the struggle to find a way for the two communities to live in peace together are similar. The Nephilim, a group of otherworldly beings, work to maintain the peace between mundanes and Downworlders. There are laws, which the Nephilim and Downworlders agreed to, which must be protected.
InClockwork Angel, Clare introduces the protagonist-Tessa-by having her world in upheaval due to her aunt’s recent passing and her only living relative, her brother Nathan, living and working across the ocean in London. Little does Tessa know, her world and what she knows about herself is about to be turned upside down. Tessa arrives in London and realizes her brother will not be meeting her at the dock, but instead has sent two sisters who belong to something called The Pandemonium Club to escort her “home.” From the dark and disastrous stay with the sisters, Tessa learns her self identity is not what it once was.
As much as I wanted to find a reason to use the novel or pieces of it in the classroom, there is little I want to use from it. I do appreciate Clare’s allusions and direct references to other literary works. This is something I could use in my English classroom to show students why it is sometimes beneficial to read or at least know of the classics. There are a few references they might miss or fail to fully appreciate otherwise.
What I Didn’t Like
From the beginning, Clare works hard to describe and paint her characters as round and dynamic as possible, however I still struggled understanding all of the characters. Some, like Charlotte and Henry, seem more contrived and scripted. Fitting into character molds, rather than being fully fleshed out people I could learn to love and pine for. I did find myself rooting for Tessa as the book wore on and I am still torn between Jem and Will. I have a personal love for anyone named Will, because it was my favorite grandpa’s name. But Jem, and his character liabilities make me hope against all hope that he will be the winner in the love triangle saga.
I hope, in the sequels, that Clare takes the time to more fully develop Tessa’s identity crisis. I feel this could be the driving theme in the novels and hope it continues. It is touched on, briefly, in a few scenes in CA, but I feel it could be more fully developed. If it is, I can definitely see the struggle playing out in the communities own struggle for identity.
There is also the inevitable love triangle. For more on my love triangle issues, see my review on Matched by Ally Condie. I will forgo a long explanation here, but suffice it to say, I am more than a little disappointed in YA lit’s penchant for love triangles. I want books showing boys and girls just being friends. Because it’s okay to just be friends!
Overall, and as I told MiniQ (who rolled her eyes and gave me the silent treatment for 2 hours yesterday…LOL), I felt this was a very predictable read and one I didn’t feel urgency to keep reading.
- Anyone who loves a good love triangle, no matter how contrived they may seem (not me!)
- Anyone who likes fantasy about other worlders
- Historical fiction afficianados, unless they don’t like YA fiction