Clockwork Angel

EDIT:  I re-read this post and was disappointed with the lack of wit.  What happened to my snark?  Why didn't I talk about the teen-porn?  I can only figure that this post is somehow paranormally linked to the novel itself--and, like the novel, lacks all the fabulous qualities of the author's usual voice.

Usually I hop right in when I write these things (as is probably obvious), but this one I'm really struggling with.  I don't know how to start because I don't know how I feel about the Clockwork Angel experience.  It's almost like Gemma Doyle and Jace Wayland got together and tried to write a joint autobiography--part Victorian England girl-with-altered-reality, part snarky-sexy-tortured Shadowhunter.

I don't want to say I'm disappointed because I really had fun reading it.  Maybe I just had elevated expectations for the first of The Infernal Devices series.  That's a lot coming from me, though.  I really have very lower-than-low expectations for most of the parapseudos I read.

  • Comfortable.  If you have enjoyed The Mortal Instruments series, you'll be generally pleased.  The writing quality remains some of the best in the genre, the characters all fit the mold well, and the action is still often breathtaking.  We all love to hear the first single off our favorite artist's album and bathe in the familiarity of the guitar or sigh along with the singer's voice. This first installment of The Infernal Devices is kinda like that.
  • The bad guys.  I adore the Dark Sisters.  They have the potential to fit in with some of my favorite evil bitches:  Elizabeth Bathory, blood bath maven; Cruella De Ville, PETA enemy # 1; Asajj Ventress from the new "Clone Wars" cartoon; and Nellie from "Little House on the Prairie."  That being said, I'd have liked to have seen much, much more of the Dark Sisters.  I hope to engage them again in the other installments of this series.
  • "Ichor" in the first sentence.
  • The Jem/Will partnership.  I can always appreciate a good light/dark juxtaposition.  It reminds me of my childhood.  I especially like this one because it reminds me of the Jim Nightshade/Will Holloway characters of Something Wicked This Way Comes.  These kinds of pairs--or parabatai, in Clareworld--become two parts of the same boy, really.  It gives the young girl reader the opportunity to safely lust after both the good guy and the bad boy at the same time.
  • Making the mythos.  I loved learning about Church's origins, and it was fun to see where the killing toys and freaky mechanics had come from.  
  • Robots. Is it too much to hope that one of the main characters will turn out to be an automaton?  Or is that too Star Trek?
  • More of the same.  When I finished reading City of Bones, I felt like I had read something important.  (See my earlier entry.)  There were layers that legitimized the story as something to be analyzed.  Clockwork Angel, though, unfortunately, didn't tap into that edginess, that significance.  It had the Downworlders, the Shadowhunters, and the Mundanes--and that was it.  Nothing new or shocking.  
  • Setting.  Most of it is inside.  I want to SEE Victorian England.  I want to smell it, fear it, move through it.  The New York of The Mortal Instruments was alive.  Clary experienced the expanse of the city, the suburbs, the Institute.  In this novel, we're stuck with Tessa in the Institute, with only a brief venture out.  I can see the argument that this mirrors the claustrophobia that Tessa may have felt in Victorian England, but I don't buy that.  She never complains about it.  In fact, she seems to like being inside all the time.  
  • Henry.  Poor, poor Henry.  He's a buffoon.  He's pathetic.  He's lame.  Whatever you want to call it, I want more.  These characters are always set up to change, yet I didn't get that really with Henry.   
  • Tessa.  I don't love her--yet.  Maybe in subsequent novels I will.  That does happen to me often.  However, I found myself drawn more to the mysteries of Jem/Will much, much more.
  • Will.  He's a little too much like Jace--egocentric, afraid to love, secretly pained.  His most redeeming quality is his care for Jem.
On her website, Clare has mentioned that The Infernal Devices can stand alone, or they can be read in zig-zag with upcoming The Mortal Instruments novels.  Herein lies the big problem: if I were a new reader and had just started with Clockwork Angel, I don't know that I'd be very interested in the sequel.  It doesn't have the heart of its companion novels--in character, setting, or plot.

I'm looking forward to meeting with Clary, Simon, and Jace next week in City of Fallen Angels.  I'm a little bummed that incest has been taken off the table, but I'm sure there'll be more juicy tension.  Let's just hope that Clare has revisited the story with as much passion as the first three.

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