Monday, March 26, 2012

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Title: Clockwork Angel
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Pages: 476 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.

Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

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.


Despite my personal feelings on the author, I read Clockwork Angel to answer two questions I posed to myself:

1. Does Cassandra Clare actually have talent?
2. Could possibly enjoy one of her novels if I put my feelings about her aside?

The answer was "no" to both questions for me. I'll explain why.

I detested City of Bones when I read it; Jace was a jerk, Clary was annoying, the book was badly paced, and it was also badly written. I gave it back to the friend who loaned it to me after just half the book and have not read another word of the book in the three years since then. So why, then, would I like reading a novel that takes these characters, gives them a superficial makeover, and drops them in Victorian London?

They may have different names and different descriptions, but these are the same personalities I've already seen and disliked in the other series. The plain-but-actually-pretty girl who delves deeper into the world of the Shadowhunters in order to find her missing relative, falling in love with a Shadowhunter in the meanwhile and discovering she can't be with him the way she wants to--that could be both Tessa and Clary. The jerkish male with an ego the size of a planet, an infinite store of stupid one-liners, a tortured past, and a propensity for treating the people he loves like crap--both Will and Jace fit this.

Well, I'll take back some of it for Will. Honestly, Will is worse than Jace because he sounds like a boy from the twenty-first century, not anyone from Victorian London. They're both jerks who need to go fuck themselves despite their tortured pasts, but at least one of them isn't anachronistic. I'm supposed to think the things Will says about Six-Fingered Nigel and others are funny, but my reaction was more like, "...That was stupid." A lot of things about this book are stupid, really.

The pacing issue I had with City of Bones showed up in Clockwork Angel too. For the first one-hundred fifty pages, I gave it an honest shot and forced myself to read it like I would any other novel. Then I skimmed the next two-hundred seventy pages or so because absolutely nothing was happening. One we got to the last fifty pages, I read again, and then the book was over.

Something Tessa thinks later in the novel concerns me: "Will cared for her, she was sure of it. Yes, he had been rude to her almost since he had met her, but then, that happened in novels all the time (Clockwork Angel, p. 454)." She then goes on to compare her situation to how Mr. Darcy was rude to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice and how Heathcliff was rude to Cathy in Wuthering Heights.

I have not had the opportunity to read either classic yet, but I've heard often that Mr. Darcy had no idea he was being rude and eventually shaped up. Heathcliff and Cathy? Anyone who aspires to have a romance like theirs is off their rocker. Heathcliff and Cathy's "romance" was not healthy. I don't need to read the book to figure that out. Research is all I need.

I felt bad for Tessa just then. She might have been an uninteresting blank slate of a character, but she didn't deserve being under the delusion that anyone who could only be rude to her and treat her horribly was worth her time and romantic attentions. This is something a number of women throughout the real world are under the impression of because of books like this and I feel sorry for all of them too. If someone can't figure out how not to be a jerk to a person they like, they're both better off with someone else and the jerk has some growing up to do.

There was one interesting thing about this book, but it is exclusive to my copy of the novel and has nothing to do with Clockwork Angel itself. My copy came from my favorite used bookstore and the previous owner wrote in parts of the novel. Names, numbers, diary entries, details of how she (the previous owner) lost three people in two weeks,... One of them died with injuries including a fractured skull, internal bleeding, a broken spine, and two broken arms. I resisted the temptation to use this information for evil and was sad to see the notes stop after the seventh chapter or so. Whoever the previous owner is, I wish I could have met her.

And so went my attempt to read a Cassandra Clare novel honestly and with as little bias as possible. If you ever see me try to read another one of her novels, you are hereby given full permission to smack me across the face. Hm? You can't do that because you're across the Internet from me? You also have full permission to break the laws of nature in order to smack me across the face.

0 stars!

What am I reading next?: Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, based on your other reviews, I could not imagine you liking a Clare book. I've never read them based on the things I've heard about the author and the plots because I'm pretty sure I'd dislike them too.


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