Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Infernal Devices #2
Genre: YA, fantasy, paranormal, steampunk
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011
Read for: fun
***SPOILERS FOR CLOCKWORK ANGEL ARE FAIR GAME***
Tessa and the London Institute survived Mortmain's attack, but now, they must deal with the aftermath. Tessa deals with the pain of Will's rejection, while Jem seems to grow more and more affectionate. She also attempts to uncover the secret of her past, and what exactly she is. Meanwhile, Will is finding that old wounds haven't healed nearly as well as he likes to pretend, so he goes about finding a way to heal them once and for all. At the Institute, Charlotte's role as leader is threatened, and the Enclave gives the Shadowhunters an ultimatum that seems almost impossible. And, of course, Mortmain is lurking around the edges, disrupting life in myriad ways.
I have very mixed experiences with second books. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien? Not favorite. Crossed by Ally Condie? All right, but way less enjoyable to me than Matched. In fact, the only second book I can think of off the top of my head is New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, and that is because I am Team Jacob all the way. Even before he got abs. But let's not talk about Twilight here.
Clockwork Prince, while unable to escape completely from second book syndrome, was stellar, in my opinion. Not a literary masterpiece, not going to change the world, perhaps, but for what it was -- a chunky, thrilling, entertainer of an adventure -- it was great. While many questions from the first book are left unresolved, we do get closure on some questions, giving some satisfaction. And while it does leave with a cliffhanger, I've come to expect that. It doesn't even bother me anymore (thank you, YA literature, for always coming in threes and teaching me a lesson that I never heed -- don't read the trilogy until all books are available). I think I can comfortably say Clockwork Prince was certainly one of the more satisfying second novels I've read in a long time.
Shall we delve? Let's talk about the plot first, because I have an anecdote. And we all know that is what professional reviewers include in their reviews (if you are here looking for a professional review, you should already know that you've come to the wrong place). The plot was exciting, feeding me just enough information to keep me from throwing the book down in frustration, but not much more. The day after I began this book, my nursing class was practicing IVs on each other (you thought I was kidding when I said nursing school is sadistic?) and for whatever reason, I was not having it. I'm usually okay about needle sticks, but I was literally about to throw up from nervousness. I think I must not have gotten enough sleep. I asked if I could read my book while they poked me, and I hardly felt a thing. Thus, the power of entertainment. But I digress. I have heard many say that this book is too wordy, and at 528 pages, they certainly have evidence to support that. I didn't find all the verbage too heavy, however -- I still moved through at a fast pace and didn't find myself too bogged down. There are certainly some passages that could have been clipped down, but I think Cassandra Clare was trying to have her characters speak in a more old-fashioned, ornate style. And I think it worked just fine.
Next, the romance. Love triangle haters, steer clear -- but I think if we all are honest, there is a reason they seem to be present in every novel these days. While the device may be overused these days, I still enjoy the drama it presents. In Clockwork Angel, we see the beginnings of a love triangle with Tessa, Will, and Jem, but Will pretty obviously takes center stage in Tessa's affections. However, in Clockwork Prince, Jem starts to edge more firmly into the picture, and I loved it. Jem is the perfect man, (other than the frustrating fact that he is dying and stays alive by taking an addictive drug) with his silver hair, musical ability, sensitivity, and mad-fighting ability, and I felt that I became much better acquainted with him in Clockwork Prince. Although, we also get much better acquainted with Will, and he continues to be frustratingly attractive in this book. And the drama builds... and builds... and builds. While in Clockwork Angel, the situation was basically angst, angst, angst, kissing, and then infinite angst, in Clockwork Prince, the situation is angst, angst, angst, plot, revelation, kissing, pondering, kissing, plot, angst. There is a bit more depth smattered amongst all of the angst.
I had a slightly difficult time believing in their absolute passion for Tessa, considering that she may or may not be a warlock, and doesn't actually do that much other than almost die a few times. However, Cassandra Clare does try to fit her into another stereotype by having her learn some bad-a heroine fighting skills, along with Sophie. I like Tessa, don't get me wrong, but I do think her suitors are slightly above her caliber. But maybe I'm just jealous.
We also get to know Magnus Bane much, much better. I have heard that he is a prominent figure in the series following this one. I have not read that one yet, because the idea reading both at once while both are unfinished is too much for me to fathom.
I also adore the juxtaposition of Sidney Carton with Will. Little known fact: when I read Clockwork Angel, I had started A Tale of Two Cities and didn't know how it ended. I was reading them simultaneously, but finished Clockwork Angel first. Going into Clockwork Prince with a better understanding of the character of Sidney made Will a much more intriguing and powerful character to me. I thought it was well done and fascinating.
One final gushing comment. The steampunk atmosphere of Clockwork Angel continues to deliver in Clockwork Prince, and, if you can believe it, may be my favorite part of the whole novel. If you enjoy steampunk, I think you will find something to love in Clockwork Prince. The series was the introduction to the genre for me, and I am very happy to have found it. If you are looking for an emotional, entertaining adventure, you should love Clockwork Prince.
Warnings: Violence, some heavy making out