Clockwork Angel, The Infernal Devices #1: Review
I wish I had read this before giving The Mortal Instruments a go - I think I would have been more pleased with it.
My main issue is that this seems to be the same story regurgitated in a different setting, with different characters. We have a girl who knows nothing of the Shadow World being suddenly thrust into the middle as a very important asset to the Nephilim. We have the missing family member she is desperately trying to locate and save, thus aligning herself with the Shadowhunters for their aid. We have the secrets of her hidden past coming to light as she realizes what she is - in this version, a Downworlder. We have the jaded love interest and the love triangle.
Honestly, I don't think the story is particularly bad, and besides all the characters being recycled from The Mortal Instruments, the underlying plot is quite original. Automatons decorated in human flesh, animated by demonic energies? That's pretty...cool. Our MC can shape shift into whomever she chooses, and get a sense of their thoughts (dead or alive) while she's in their form? Even cooler.
But the writing is dreadful - there are some sentences that are just so painful and bland I nearly stopped reading a few times at the start. I hate to leave any story unfinished, but the lack of creativity in the writing was nearly unbearable. And Cassandra Clare seems to think we need to be BEATEN over the head with obvious details...give your readers some credit, will you? The main issue is Clare does not possess a knack for writing outside her time period; she tries, but the imagination and creativity just aren't there. The constant stressing of key time period aspects was tiring and made the whole setting feel forced. Women didn't wear trousers or hold important positions in 1800? Great, we got it - stop repeating yourself every single time one of the female characters shows up in fighting gear or has an original thought.
It did get better as it went along and the story fleshed out - less need for explanations when things are actually happening to carry the plot forward - and I am glad I finished, but I am completely baffled as to why Clare is such a YA sensation (though obviously, it's the love triangles and the desperately beautiful, haunted teens at each point).
While I gave her first series a chance a few years ago, I think my biggest fault with Clockwork Angel is that I had The Mortal Instruments in my mind first. I had heard The Infernal Devices was the better trilogy, and I suppose I was counting on it. I only survived the first three installments of TMI before calling it quits - I just couldn't take it anymore. The story has potential, but I don't think Clare has the means to tell it well. Not much happens besides the constant descriptions of beautiful boy 1 and beautiful boy 2, and the constant self-conscious "I'm nothing special" thoughts of our MC (but of course both beautiful boys love her).
So, I should have known better when picking up Clockwork Angel, but I do like to hope for the best. I will likely continue with The Infernal Devices, as it is a trilogy and therefore doesn't threaten to go on and on, and it was (however painful and annoying at times) a very easy read. I am going to try my best to put TMI from my mind as I do, because I dobelieve if I could erase that story from my memory, I would enjoy this telling much more without the comparison to its predecessor to darken my outlook.
If you have yet to read anything by this author, I would so far recommend reading The Infernal Devices first, as I wish I had. Just don't give up after the first ten eye-rolling descriptions...it's bad, I know, but the concept beneath is good enough to stick with the poor writing.