8/31/2010

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare: Review

CITY OF BONES, the first book in The Mortal Instruments series, is the first Young Adult book I picked up without a personal recommendation. The cover caught my eye, and the first few pages drew me in.

A few years later, and one trilogy down, you can call me a Superfan. (Note the capital "S".) Out today is CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare, the first in The Infernal Devices trilogy (a prequel to The Mortal Instruments). You can just TRUST ME and go buy it, or you can read the rest of the post. :P And thanks to the Mundie Moms for putting me on their ARC tour! 

I've been fascinated with the steampunk genre in fiction for a while - the entire movement actually. If you don't know what steampunk is, I'll list a few links below so you can check it out. Meanwhile, here's a short definition: Fictional works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era Britain—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, often featuring futuristic technology as the people of this historical period would have envisioned it to look like, i.e. based on a Victorian perspective on fashionculturearchitectural styleart, etc.


Sometimes I find steampunk unwieldy. I'm not always sure of the rules; I can't see the machines, and there are all those GOGGLES. I feel like I'm not smart enough to enjoy the genre as I should, and I really, really want to. Cassie Clare introduces steampunk elements into Clockwork Angel SO smoothly; while they're a pertinent part of the plot, they don't overwhelm it. Steampunk for beginners, a taste that can get the buds a cookin', if you will. And there's not one pair of goggles. 


The "normal" paranormal elements readers enjoyed in The Mortal Instruments are still there, and the world of the Shadowhunters and Downworlders only grows wider and richer. Clare's worldbuilding is as solid as ever, and while the family connections between CLOCKWORK ANGEL and The Mortal Instruments will please those who have read TMI, IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO READ CITY OF BONES, CITY OF ASHES OR CITY OF GLASS first. If you haven't yet, you might as well go ahead and buy them when you pick up CLOCKWORK ANGEL. You'll want them so you can keep living in Cassandra Clare's world when you finish. 


And, Holy Thames River Batman, the CHARACTERS. Characters keep me reading more than any fascinating plot element or device, and the pages were turning fast and furious as I read CLOCKWORK ANGEL. Complex as ever, multi-layered, living and breathing - Clare has done it again. Let me break it down. 


The Girls: Tessa is a girl who knows her own mind and speaks it. She's tough - we're talking serious intestinal fortitude here, people - and maybe best of all, SHE'S A READER. We all know girls who read are ass kickers, but sometimes it's nice to see it pointed out. 


Tessa struggles against the expectations for women that were present in the time period. So does Charlotte, the woman who runs the London Institute. But Jessamine is the character I find most fascinating when it comes to gender issues. Clare could have dismissed her as a flighty, frilly, silly girl. Jessamine longs for a traditional life, not the life of a Shadowhunter. But attaining that life involves struggles of its own against society - and the fact that she wasn't ridiculed for wanting to be a wife rather than a Shadowhunter pleased me. Sometimes that isn't a popular choice for characters to make, but Jessamine was portrayed as having just as much of a right to her desires as Tessa had to hers. True equality. Nice. 


I also appreciated seeing the time period through the eyes of a variety of women, including servant girls. The setting is England, around turn of the century. So we're not only dealing with gender issues, but class issues. There's always a social paradigm present in Clare's books. In this book, it's shifting. The problems the characters have to solve are set against it, but it doesn't overpower their personal journeys, it complements them.


The Boys: Really, Cassie Clare? Really? Like I don't have ENOUGH fictional crushes to blame on you? I love the boys in this book. I love one in particular. (Note the word LOVE. I mean, LOVE.) He really and truly deserves his own blog post, and it will happen. I'm just going to give y'all enough time to read before I write it. 


So, obviously, you should go buy CLOCKWORK ANGEL today, yes? It's full of mystery and intrigue, darkness and light, and the cliffhanger ending will rock your socks. And make you wish for next summer and book two, or a time machine.


Where's H.G. Wells when you need him? 


Enjoy, come back and tell me how awesome it was, and here are those steampunk links! Feel free to leave your own favorite links to steampunk sites in the comments!


http://www.steampunk.com/


http://www.steampunkmagazine.com/


http://thesteampunkhome.blogspot.com/


http://etsysteamteam.com/



10 comments:

  1. Myra - you write a review that makes me want to RUSH out and buy the book...but wait, I did!!! And I d/l'd the audiobook this morning!!! So so so brilliant!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fabulous. LOVE that you used this as an intro to Steampunk for those of us who've had difficulty getting our feet wet. I'm getting this today -- so excited to read it!

    Martina

    ReplyDelete
  3. Holy awesome review Batman! Can you just write all my reviews? You make me want to rush out and get another copy. Love your review!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. AHHHH! I've been avoiding the inevitability of buying this book (I'm spending so much lately on books) but I just HAVE to. You know? Especially after that review!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This one has been on my list for awhile. Can't wait to fall in love too. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. This one has been on my list for awhile. Can't wait to fall in love too. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sounds so good. Glad to hear it's already out in audio.

    I'm also a Steam Punk newbie. Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, is the only one I've read so far. I found that one enjoyable and easy enough to follow.

    ReplyDelete
  8. DUDE! Bought it last night and can not wait to jump in!!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Awesome possum! Love your review, love the book! Can't wait for the next....*impatiently taps foot*

    ReplyDelete
  10. I mean it, y'all! You better come back and tell me if you loved it as much as I did.

    And Jennifer, Leviathan is on my Audible wishlist. I've heard excellent things about Cherie Priest as well.

    ReplyDelete

Tell us everything: