What do I say about Cassie Clare’s “Infernal Devices” series, at least as far as the first book is concerned – most of you are probably wondering? I finished this book near the beginning of this past year (2012) and I’m just writing a review for it now. I’m ashamed it took this long because usually when I have a collective set of thoughts about a book, I try to get to it at least within two months of finishing it (unless it’s an ARC with certain terms). This has been out for a while, I read this as part of a group challenge in audiobook form, then I reread it in print.
I think considering my collective experience with this book, the best way to describe my initial thoughts with it were that it was a better beginning for me than “City of Bones” was for Clare’s “Mortal Instruments” series. But compared to other YA fantasy reads I’ve read, especially of the steampunk variety? I’m not sure how to describe it. I’m – to paint a picture – sitting on the fence and deciding whether to swing my legs over into the yard where I know the experience of the book entails, and swinging off on the other side and leaving the elements behind, it’s take or leave. There were parts I really liked such as some of the punch one-liners and some aspects of the worldbuilding, but as an overall read, it felt clunky and I had issues with certain portrayals of the characterization. It kept my attention in spurts, but lost me in others. I think the journey could’ve been smoother and more dynamic than what it was. I did struggle with it in spurts, the beginning had me, lost me for a little while, had an interesting twist that picked up speed, lost me again, and then had me again only to leave me in limbo toward the end. So it was a series of odd ups and downs, not undulating.
Recapping the plot a little: Tessa is a young woman who travels from America to meet with her brother – her only living family – in the UK. Instead, she ends up captured by the Dark Sisters, who exploit her into using an ability to inhabit spirits of the dead. She’s rescued by Will, a smart-talking Shadow Hunter, and incorporated into the clan, full of peculiar and charming personalities. Thus begins the search for her brother and the toggle between Tessa’s contentious relationship with Will and her attraction to the quiet, yet charming Jem. There are other twists and turns to be had in the story, but I couldn’t help but feel a sense of deja-vu with the way the plot unfolded. Granted, I connected to the characters a little better in this story versus in TMI, but I still felt the story was more drawn out for details than it should’ve been. I also felt that the language was out of place for the period, some of the dialogue is genuinely quirky and likable, but it doesn’t always mesh as much as I could’ve hoped. It’s very light on the steampunk element in my eyes, and I guess I expected a little more streamlining in the writing than what it offered. For what its worth, I did like the initial drawing of Will’s character, but for me I was almost completely turned off by the book’s end. I didn’t like the things he said to Tessa, nor the measure of which he condescends her, it’s just not endearing. Jem, for me, came across all right, I liked him well enough. Some of the secondary characters (Magnus, Camille, etc.) actually stood out to me more than the primary characters. I like Tessa’s narration more than Clary’s, but I felt that her characterization could’ve been more rounded.
The thing about “Clockwork Angel” that I regret to say is that even so long after I’ve read it, I don’t really have a strong impression of it in my mind. Those of you who know that I when I connect to a book, it stays with me – I can talk about elements of it in detail, and while I may not have the sequence of events down to the teeth, I can usually tell you things I loved about it and converse about it with enthusiasm. I can’t do that with “Clockwork Angel” – I read it, I liked parts of it for what it offered and read through it relatively quickly, but it didn’t stick with me. I don’t know if I’d pick the book up again on appeal. Still, I liked it enough to be willing to see what the next book has to offer, and if Clare expands upon the world and characters developed here, hopefully more that it will stick with me.
Overall score: 2.5/5