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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized10 Comments

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Source: Obtained from publisher at BEA10
Publication Date: 31 August 2010
Series or Standalone: The Infernal Devices, Book 1
ISBN: 1416975861
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Pages: 496
Cassandra Clare – Official Site
Cassandra Clare – Blog
Cassandra Clare – Twitter

Place(s) Traveled to: London, England (1878)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

First Line: The demon exploded in a shower if ichor and guts.

If I had to walk away from this years Book Expo America (BEA) this past May with only one book then that book would have had to be Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. When I heard that there would be copies available I was all bouncy and giddy. When I thought my shuttle bus was going to be late in dropping me off at the Javits Center and that I might miss the drop….well lets just say that I provided entertainment for my roommate and friends on Twitter. But I will be honest and say that I was not among those that RAN from the entry doors to the Simon & Schuster booth….a fast walk, yes, that was me….but not a run. So there is that bit of self restraint that I had. Albeit a small one. Clockwork Angel was also the first of my BEA books that I read as I started it that very night because even though it was May and the book wouldn’t be out until August I just couldn’t wait. And this is when getting an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) or a book can be a bad thing as book 2 in this series isn’t scheduled for release until September 2011 – and who knows if I’ll be able to get an ARC of that – or if their will even be ARCs. 
But anywho, I digress. 
Cassandra Clare was first brought to my attention by my Book Bully Tiffany who loved her Mortal Instruments series and made me read them. I resisted (foolishly) until after I attended an invent in Bryant Park in which Cassie talked about the Mortal Instruments books as well as gave some teasers for Clockwork Angel. It wasn’t long before I was hooked on this world and the mythology that surrounded it. It was just so well done. One disappointment that I had with Clockwork Angel was that I only had one copy – so my book bully and I couldn’t read simultaneously. So I did the only thing I could think of to do – while reading the book I wrote some of my thoughts on post it notes and left them scattered throughout the book for her to read. (Yes, I really am that much of a nerd.)

There were so many great themes that were discussed in Clockwork Angel. I loved how there was a little more detail added to why the race of the Shadowhunters was thinning out and the idea that some chose to leave the life. In the Mortal Instruments series it seems as though everyone born in a Shadowhunter family wants to be one and I enjoyed how Clare explored how that wasn’t always the case. I also really Clare’s use of gender roles and the social mores of Victorian England in order to shape each of the main female characters. The Victorian Era wasn’t known for its gender neutrality and while women in the Shadowhunter world have more freedoms than your typical girl they do are under many constraints.

Like Charlotte, who is in charge of the London Institute in all but name. Her character was raised to run that facility but when her father died the Council looked to another man to head it up. Despite the fact that Charlotte was the best option. Rather than see her beloved facility fall into someone else’s hands Charlotte married and convinced the Council to nominate her new bumbling inventor husband as the head. (Can I just say how much I ADORED Henry? He was just so genuine and clueless and sweet – so very adorkable!) Charlotte then became trapped in this though because while everyone who lives in the institute knows the truth she still has to hide her management because the Council didn’t believe a woman was capable. Can you imagine how hard it would be to have to try and suppress your intelligence and skills because if you were more vocal you might lose everything? I certainly can’t. And don’t think that Charlotte took advantage or duped Henry – he really is better suited for the lab tinkering away….making the prototypes of devices that will evolve into ones that Jace and company would use in more modern times. I also loved how Charlotte and Henry interacted they were so sweet together much of the time.

Then there is Jessamyn, who isn’t living at the institute by choice and who doesn’t want to be her. She is another strong female character who knows her mind and desires and yet because of cultural restraints she isn’t allowed to just go off and do as she pleases. As an unmarried young woman she is expected to have a guardian at all times and in her world she’s expected to become a Shadowhunter. Only she doesn’t want that life. Jessa wants to escape only she can’t do so in Victorian England unless she’s married. The dating scene of Victorian England was far different than today and so she’s having a hard time finding a non-shadowhunter who will take her away into the life she thinks she wants. One where she only has to worry about clothes and running a house and other things that mundanes do. I am not so sure she’d be happy living in the mundane world though because she is strong and intelligent and loves to speak her mind. She is also pretty handy with a parasol and would make Alexia Tarabotti very proud.

Tessa too struggles with her place in the world. She was raised in the mundane world and accepts the rules and protocols of existing in those times. The poor girl is truly out of her element when she encounters the Shadowhunters and she’s genuinely horrified when she learns that Charlotte doesn’t wear a corset! Throughout the book Tessa struggles as she straddles to very different and yet similar worlds. She struggles with trying to fit into the rules of each as she is torn between two swoon worthy boys (Shout out to Team Jem!!). She also struggles with the idea that this unknown person called the Magister wants to marry her – which is a topic that my book bully and I debated the reason behind. In the end we wondered if he wanted to marry Tessa so that she would be bound to him legally in the eyes of Victorian Law. Yes he could just kidnap her and do whatever it is he wants with her power but if she ever escapes then the law would be against him. And Tessa, raised as a mundane would head to the mundane law officers (at least she would before she learned of the Shadowhunters). But if she was legally married then her options would be a lot more limited.

I could go on forever I think just debating and thinking and going over all the ins and outs of this book. The whole story is just so rich and vivid. The characters all highly developed and so very flawed. Everyone is trying to overcome something.  Charlotte, Jessa and Tessa are all strong women trying to overcome issues of authority and what others think they are expected to do and how they should act. Will is dealing with a big mystery of the past that adds a haunted look to his eyes when he thinks no one is looking. Their is a melancholy air that follows him about and he tries to suppress it by being overly jovial and witty. Which only works some of the time. Its very hard to act carefree when you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Jem is also dealing with demons of his own. He is such a sweet character. He is smart and observant and notices far more about the world around him then people suspect. I simply ADORE ADORE ADORE how Will and Jem interact throughout the book!!

Clockwork Angel is a book that you can re-read several times and always catching something new. Its a great start to a new series and aspect of the Shadowhunter world. My only real complaint is that epilogue! OMG I swear Cassie Clare is trying to KILL me with suspense!! I could have waited easily for Clockwork Prince (Sept 2011) if it weren’t for how Clockwork Angel ended. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!! So hurry up 2011!!! I need some more of the Infernal Devices!!!

10 Responses to “Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare”

  1. tapestry100


    I get the feeling that I’m going to HAVE to start The Mortal Instruments series NOW and will probably have to pick this up right away instead of waiting for the paperback.

    You and your great reviews. You’re evil, I tell you, EVIL! lol

  2. Irish

    David – you don’t need to read the MI series before reading this one. They are the same world, yes, but they are independent of each other since this one takes place about 100 years before. But you should definitely read all the books because the are so filled of awesome!

  3. Jena

    I can not wait to read this!!!! And everybody is freaking out about the epilogue, oh gosh i’m gonna be freaking out too lol! Loved your review 🙂

  4. Tiffany Schmidt

    Gail — Can I just say how your post-it notes made Clockwork Angel even MORE fun to read. (It was truly Pop-Up Video: The Literature Edition).

    I agree with everything you articulated above (I loved the gender politics of the book)… except I’m Team Will 🙂 At least now we don’t have to duel it out!

  5. Irish

    Jena – its such a cliff hanger. Cassie Clare is evil!! lol Also, thanks for liking my review 🙂

    Tiffany – Working on Pop-up CA was fun! I need to do it with more books that I lend you. 🙂 Glad you are Team Will…would hate to have to fight you for Jem. Because you’d know you’d lose. lol

    bermudaonion – it really did live up to everything I thought it would be and more!

    Erica – move it up the list! So good!

  6. Ladytink_534

    I haven’t read the Mortal Instruments series but they’re really high on my TBR pile! I’m looking forward to it so I can read this one 🙂