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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

First Look: *****  I like the cover.  I also think the title is awesome.  Just so you know, I've never read The Mortal Instruments, so I won't be able to make any comparisons.  FYI: The Infernal Devices is a prequel series to The Mortal Instruments.

Setting: *****  
Yay for 19th century London!  An awesome place to set a book, in my opinion.  I've never been there, but I liked how Cassandra Clare created the atmosphere.

Characters: ***** Tessa was...okay.  Will was the one I really connected with.  I feel like he kept the story moving a bit more than Tessa.  Plus, he was more mysterious, and I found him hilarious.  I also liked Jem and Sophie.  Nate just made me angry.  I won't say why, for fear of spoilers...

Plot: *****  
It was awesome! I loved the dropoff ending. There were so many twists that I never saw coming.  It was exciting all the way through.  My only problem was that these people were Shadowhunters, and their lives are dedicated to hunting demons, but...the reader gets to experience very little demon hunting.  Hopefully the sequel will do a better job.  And I found a plot hole!  At one point in the story, I'm pretty sure it mentions that Jem's cane broke.  Later, he's back with the same cane.  What?
Cliché-ness: ***** It didn't really remind me of anything at all, except I do think fans of the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud will especially enjoy this.

Writing: *****
The writing was the only thing that bothered me.  Cassandra Clare is very guilty of the block character descriptions thing.  What do I mean?  A character would be introduced, and she'd immediately spend a paragraph or two describing their appearance, instead of creatively weaving it throughout the narrative.  She did the same thing with rooms, actually.  It followed a pattern, and it bugged me.
I loved the poetry at the chapter beginnings.  I'm a huge fan of starting chapters with quotes, Inkheart-style.  I think it adds a lot to the story.  I also like stories with Nephilim for some reason.  After all, they actually existed!  (Yep.  The Bible says so.  Check Genesis.)  How cool is that?

The character and room block description thing, mentioned earlier.  That's about it.

Total Score: ****
This is great.  It's an exciting story about how supernatural creatures clash with one another.  It's also got a tinge of romance.  And magic, and politics.  Recommended for fantasy fans, especially steampunk and urban fantasy lovers.  It's not to-die-for amazing, but I enjoyed reading it.

Reviews of other Infernal Devices novels:
Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2)
Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3)


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