**spoiler alert** So, I've been having trouble deciding between 2 and 3 stars. Why? Nothing actually happens in this book. There's some action, and th...more**spoiler alert** So, I've been having trouble deciding between 2 and 3 stars. Why? Nothing actually happens in this book. There's some action, and then we're back to Tessa whining about how much she loves Jem, but she also loves Will, and then the book basically ends.
First, can we talk about how annoying Tessa is? She's a brat. There's no other way to say it. She's a selfish, uncaring brat. She strings along both Jem and Will, doesn't say anything to either of them about the other. At the same time, she knows that Sophie is in love with Jem, but doesn't say no when he pursues her. But it's okay, right? Because our Tessa can do no wrong. This is a side note, but WE UNDERSTAND THAT WILL IS RIDICUlOUSLY GOOD-LOOKING. Every two sentences, we hear of how beautiful his eyes are, how muscular and tall he is, how he sets Tessa's heart on fire because of his EXTREME BEAUTY. We get it already, move on!
Another thing that bothered me was how unrealistic this book was. I understand that this is fantasy, and there are certain liberties that come with this genre. However, I found it hard to believe that three minors, one of them a girl, would take a train, unchaperoned, to a remote location where they are sleeping over. I found it even harder to believe all these bedtime visits our three main characters were paying each other. Is anyone forgetting that this setting is VICTORIAN LONDON!? Clare's excuse is that the characters are shadowhunters, and that their rules are much more lenient. I just found it really difficult to believe that these kids were acting like modern-day teenagers.
Plot-wise, NOTHING HAPPENED. Isn't this supposed to be a book? How can nothing happen in a book? One minute, Tessa is kissing Will, then she's kissing Jem, and then Will lashes out in his usual tormented-soul way, and then we have a bit of action with automatons. Put this on repeat, and you have the main "plot" of the book. Instead of working on the conflicts she set up in the first book, Clare introduces new ones. It just all seems unnecessary. I had to struggle to finish this because there was nothing interesting to push the plot forward.
The last third of the book especially seemed very forced. I almost laughed at Jem's proposal, it just seemed so out of the blue. Also, are we supposed to see Tessa as some sort of martyr? Are we supposed to think that she's some kind of angel because she is marrying Jem to make him happy? Will's confession to her also took me by surprise. I never got the sense that any of these characters loved each other. There's nothing substantial in their relationships. I can usually tell whether or not I like a book by how much I care about the characters, and what happens to them. As I was reading this, however, I realized that I didn't actually care about any of these characters, except maybe Jem. I felt no sympathy or connection to Tessa, who is our main character. There was no subtlety to any of their relationships, just too much melodrama.
However, I have to admit there were parts I liked. I liked Will and Tessa's conversations about books; they were the only times I believed their relationship was real. And Clare does have a knack of drawing you into the setting. I also thought Woolsey Scott was a funny, and relieving addition to the cast.
This wasn't an absolutely terrible book. I wish Clare had introduced some dimensionality to the characters and worked on the plot more than the love triangle, so that it didn't seem so much like an overdramatic soap opera.(less)