Friday, September 2, 2011

Review: 'Clockwork Angel' by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1)

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

“Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

“Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
(Amazon product description)

As a fan of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, I was excited to finally check out the first book in her Infernal Devices series.  It takes place in the same world, but a century or so earlier.  There are some lovely appearances by some familiar characters, as well as background information on things like where the Clave’s cool technical gadgets originated. 

The characters echo those in the Mortal Instruments, but that echo is faint enough that they feel original and fresh.  Tessa is no Cleary.  Will is no Jace.  Jem is no Simon.  Yet, they play similar roles.  For people who become forlorn at the thought of having to wait months for the next Mortal Instruments book to come out, the Infernal Devices can help keep you entertained. 

That’s not to say that this book cannot stand on its own.  I asked a friend of mine for her impressions since she read Clockwork Angel, but has not read the Mortal Instruments.  She loved this book and did not feel confused by the world at all.  I think many readers who are drawn to this book based on the steampunk elements, will cross over to read the other series as well.  Brilliant move on the Clare’s part. 

Speaking of steampunk…I worried that this book would feel too different from the Mortal Instruments world that I’m used to.  Clare could have easily taken it too far.  But I have to say, I was impressed by how well she incorporated the clockwork technology into the world of the London Institute.  Many of the modern day devices like demon Sensors and such were created in the basement laboratory over a century earlier.  It tied the technology of both time periods together in a way that flowed.

All in all, I loved this book and can’t wait for Clockwork Prince to release in December!

Overall, I give Clockwork Angel…

Plot – 4 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 4 bookmarks
Love Story – 4 bookmarks (for now, but I see the potential for this to get really steamy!)
Steampunk Elements – 5 bookmarks
World Building – 5 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Kay Panabaker (Tessa), Connor Paolo (Will), Oliver from Season Nine Project Runway (Jem)

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