Steam punk for the win! I have been converted. I no longer roll my eyes at what I once considered to be an annoying fad. I think I was just trying to...moreSteam punk for the win! I have been converted. I no longer roll my eyes at what I once considered to be an annoying fad. I think I was just trying to be cool. Stupid me.
I was not very impressed with the first book in this series. Not even the pretty Victorian details could win me over. I mean, it just seemed like more of the same. Even the way the events unfolded were frustratingly similar to the City of Bones. I'm pretty protective of that series too. I don't want it replicated over and over again because, what reader likes to be used as a recycling bin?
However, once I finally forced myself to read this book, the world was somehow made fresh to me. I don't know if it was the Victorian setting or the way the character interactions began to grow and mature, but Clockwork Prince helped me begin to see the merits of the series as a whole. Let me explain:
I couldn't review this book without first mentioning the time period it's set in. Ms. Clare does an excellent job of surrounding the reader with a mental Victorian London. The picture is not two dimensional, but wholesome, encompassing both the beautiful, the sublime, the gritty, and the ugly. I was impressed with her coverage. The personality of the city really shines through in the details. Not only is the environment firmly grounded in a specific time period, but the fashion and customs follow accordingly. My only issue is that because I don't normally read steam punk and don't really have a love affair with the Victorian Age, I didn't know exactly what all the articles of clothing were. I did however look them up because I hate not being able to see something in my head while I'm reading. I do know that my lack of knowledge shouldn't affect the book's score.
I enjoyed that the Nephilim culture allowed for a bit more casualness between the characters. While I love a good classic as well as anyone else, I'm alway eager to give the stink eye to any contemporary literature with flowery language that seem inauthentic. The Clockwork Prince felt natural and the characters seemed to speak with little to no awkwardness and yet still seem true to their generation.
Another reason why this book might have won me over where its predesessor did not, is that there is less action than in Ms. Clare's previous novels. Don't get me wrong, I love good action and this author isn't a shabby action writer, but it just made the story and the plot feel more unique and less like everything else she writes. I enjoyed the slightly more laid back approach. It gave way to some awesome character development without sacrificing the pacing of the story.
Speaking of the characters, Will, Jem, and Tessa have a unique love triangle. I know many people will read love triangle and snort loudly out their noses before promptly looking elsewhere for entertainment, but hear me out.. Triangles have been hijacked as a contemporary plot device, which I most definitely despise for the laziness involved. It's a particularly nasty plot device because it preys on human misery without giving the emotion its due respect. I don't want to read about someone's misery unless I know them and understand where exactly that misery comes from. Otherwise it's just superfluous sap that I'd rather due without, unless maybe I'm PMSing. But with this in mind, I can appreciate human drama when it is heartfelt and sincere. Ms. Clare spends the first book introducing us to her characters so when I picked up the second one, I thought I understood Jem, Will, and Tessa, but then Ms. Clare took it one step further. Her characters did things that surprised me and yet stayed true to themselves. No one's dignity as a fictitious individual was compromised. No one was reduced to an annoying puddle of tears prematurely. The pain was subtly eluded to through the action and the romance was a slow burn. Tessa remains a character I respect, despite the misery she has to cause someone in the end. Will and Jem I respect for their loyalty to each other, despite the obvious allure of companionship. I also love, that Ms. Clare doesn't shy away from the physical tension between the characters. Young adult books so often skate over the issue. There is no time for slowly torturing their characters, most of the time it is all about instant gratification, which really brings no gratification at all. Needless to say, Tessa, Will, and Jem are very much tortured before they get any satisfaction. It may be a bit emo, but it feels real.
And it is here that I feel I must say that Will is not a replica of Jace, as I first thought. He is similar in some ways, but it is not overly distracting once I let go of my paranoia. He is one character that surprised me the most. I was shocked at some of the self destructive tendencies he showed. There were times when he let go of his cool guy routine, and that went a long way towards lending him some relateability. Juxtaposed, Jem also had some surprising moments. I think Tessa is a strong, constant type of character. I was pleased at her loyalty and sense. The perfect attitude for a Victorian character! I didn't mind all the guys fawning over her because any guy that "earned her affections" would be lucky. She would make an excellent partner.
Anyway, I've gone on and on, but the point is that Ms. Clare has got me again. I love her work. I hope that she continues to produce such wonderful characters and in the meantime, I'm going to try to find my way to a book as gripping as this one.
This is the first book on my self-appointed summer reading list. I bought the new edition with the big yellow printed sticker quoting J.K. Rowling. So...moreThis is the first book on my self-appointed summer reading list. I bought the new edition with the big yellow printed sticker quoting J.K. Rowling. Something about the most charismatic narrator she's ever read. So far I agree, Cassandra Mortmain is extremely charming. I love this kind of character. Indomitable, clever. I like that things don't seem to be as easy for her as for her sister Rose. Good gravy, could you imagine if Rose was the narrator. We'd never understand anything, but that she was miserable and guys liked her.
Anyway, I'll write more once I've finished.
I've thought about this book for a week now and my conclusion is that I wish I had read it when I was in high school, not because I can't appreciate it now, but because it's one of those books that can raise you like a mother if you read it at the right time.
Dodie Smith has knitted such soft, warm lessons into the language of this book. Everything about it is meant to warm the reader to life, while simultaneously removing any rose-colored glasses. Only a British author could have done it so well.