Saturday, March 24, 2012

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Local Library
Read: March 24, 2012

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends. With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them. Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do? As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

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I liked Clockwork Prince more than I liked Clockwork Angel, but that isn't saying a whole lot. The book is no better written than its predecessor and the story is really no more entertaining. The difference is that my expectations were lower going into the second installment of the Infernal Devices series and thus I wasn't as sharply disappointed as I was with Clockwork Angel. 

The book may be set in Victorian London but the era is hardly relevant to the story. "A gentleman would not normally touch a lady in public, but here in the Institute the Shadowhunters were more familiar with one another than were the mundanes outside." Familiar is a bit of an understatement. Tessa gets a little personal with not one, but two young men in the course of the story and doesn't have the least compunction about doing so. Really? This is 1878 for crying out loud. Sophie Collins is the only character in the entire book who exhibits even an ounce of regard for Victorian etiquette. Perhaps younger readers don't care for or appreciate continuity but the time period of a novel should dictate more than the fashions in which the characters are garbed. 

As a reader of historic fiction I wasn't impressed but I also didn't like that Clockwork Prince is quite literally five hundred pages of hormone driven teenage drama. The Magister doesn't put in an appearance, the members of the Institute do not find any clue as to where he is hiding, and no one has the faintest idea of what he intends to do with Tessa. All totaled we know little more than we did at the conclusion of Clockwork Angel. I'll admit there are a few action packed moments but I've read novellas with more plot movement.

I can accept that my opinion isn't in line with the majority on this one, but all the same, I have to wonder if I am the only person on the planet who is sick to death of Will's blue eyes. Clockwork Prince is comprised of twenty one chapters in which there are more than twenty one references to Master Herondale's brooding baby blues. I swear Clare is more in love with her own creation than Tessa and the entirety of her fan base combined. 

At this point in time I find the love triangle literary device cliché, especially in young adult literature. Considering this is the central theme of Clockwork Prince you can probably understand my indifferent assessment of Clare's work. Solidly written but can honestly say I will not be among the throngs of fans eagerly awaiting the next installment. 

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The Shadowhunter boy was becoming like an annoying relative... someone whose habits you knew well but could not change. Someone whose presence you could recognize by the sound of their boots in the hallway. Someone who felt free to argue with the footman when he'd been given orders to tell everyone that you were not at home.
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