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Saturday, January 7, 2012
2012 BOTY : Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Book #2 for the year was Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book One) by Cassandra Clare. I chose this book on something of a whim and did make one small mistake. Typically I don't like to read a book in a series unless all of the books in said series have already been released. Well...fail on this one. The second book in the series was released last November, but the third isn't due for publishing until later this year. Drat.
Clockwork Angel is a fantasy/sci fi fiction novel set in the late 1800s. It falls into the young adult, steampunk subset. Not typically a book I would pick, but I kept hearing good things about it so I figured I would give it a chance.
Tessa Gray is moving to London after the death of her Aunt Harriet to live with her only remaining relative, her brother Nathaniel. But when Tessa steps off the ship, Nate is nowhere to be found. She is soon met by the Dark Sisters who have a note from her brother asking her to allow them to take her home.
The note is something of a ruse and the Dark Sisters turn out to be powerful warlocks who kidnap Tessa. She soon learns that she has a special power - the ability to "Change". Tessa is able to take on the personas of others (both their physical manifestations and their thoughts/actions) simply by holding an item that belongs to them. This talent is desired by the Magister and the Dark Sisters have been given the task of perfecting her ability to use it. Tessa is threatened with the death of her brother (who the Dark Sisters tell her is also imprisoned) if she does not agree to help them.
Tessa is rescued from her captivity by Will, a Shadowhunter. He takes her to the London Institute - a haven for Shadowhunters - where she learns of the Downworld, filled with vampires, demons, warlocks and werewolves. Tessa agrees to help them with her power if they will help her find her missing brother.
I rated Clockwork Angel 4 out of 5 stars. Not bad for a book that I almost stopped reading. The initial scenes start with Will chasing down a demon - it came across more fantastical than I typically enjoy and I was afraid that it would take a turn too far into science fiction for my liking. But by about page twelve, my doubts were over. I would liken this book to something akin to a cross between Lemony Snicket and Harry Potter. It has the good versus evil idea of both books and combines the childish and playful evil in Lemony Snicket with the more mature style of danger in Harry Potter.
The story moved quite quickly. There are quite a few questions that go unanswered, prompting me to want to read the remainder of the series to solve some mysteries. The book is definitely written for the preteen and teenage set. However, I think it's one of those books that can span quite a few ages. It's not too graphic for the younger set (perhaps 10 and older) and not too simple or "high school" for the adults. I think Clare balances that quite well.
The characters are not as developed as I would like, but I'm hoping that they become more full bodied as the series continues. I am definitely curious about them, so that bodes well.
Clare also manages to weave quite a complex tale into a book that seems to go by in a blur. The central plot line is strong, but there are many supporting stories at work - something that I think is important for carrying the story beyond a single novel.
The biggest downside to this book is that it is another of those cliffhanger novels. I should have relatively easy access to the second in the series, but the third and final book is not due to be released until December of 2012. I'm going to have to pace myself. I find the necessity of that rather irritating. I'm one of those people who thrives on instant gratification. I guess I'll be a little more careful about which books I choose from now on.