Ooh! I finally found the hero!; or, a book review of CLOCKWORK PRINCE (Infernal Devices #2), by Cassandra Clare

I loved CLOCKWORK ANGEL. Or, at least, I remember loving it. Regardless, when I picked it up last year (admittedly, because of its awesome steampunky cover/back copy), I liked it enough that I went ahead and read the rest of Cassandra Clare’s canon. The Mortal Instruments books were…

Well, never mind. We’re here about her Infernal Devices series.

At least he's got a sword-cane.CLOCKWORK PRINCE was released earlier this month, a year after its predecessor came out. I won’t lie: I was excited. Like I said, I remember really digging that book, and even though I came out slightly disappointed (erm, jaded) at the other end of the Mortal Instruments books, I sallied forth and read this one.

Look, I like YA books. I believe that, proportionately, there are as many good YA books out there as adult. I really liked TEXAS GOTHIC and the Harry Potter books and Madeleine L’Engle’s WRINKLE IN TIME series and oh my god I loved Lili St. Crow‘s STRANGE ANGELS series. I fangirled all to shit over that series. (I picked a team. I don’t do that.)

Ugh. Go on, Sara. Just say it.


I’m really tired of Clare’s pearl-clutching, simpery, melodramatic, aggressively poetic crap. I know, I know. People love her. Jace Wayland and Will Herondale are really sweethearts underneath their crass, asshole exteriors. Team whatever. I get it. Here’s the thing:

We didn’t invent sex. Hell, our parents didn’t even invent it. So Tessa’s physical light-headedness at the touch of her beloved(s), her lack of knowledge of how babies are made… yeah, right. I don’t buy it. I get that this is Victorian England, and that people are stuffy and corseted, but come on. Do a little internet search, people. It’s emphasized over and over that Shadowhunters have different standards of interpersonal conduct, behavior, propriety, etc., yet we’re still behaving like this is some kind of Oscar Wilde play (which were, by the way, satires of the day)?

Also, Tessa is not what I’d call a heroine. Tessa is a female romantic lead. Jem’s a male romantic lead. Look, the only interesting thing that happened in this whole damn book was Jem’s asking Tessa to marry him (which seemed forced, awkward, and completely out of the blue [on the part of the writer, not the character]) because it made someone do something.

Who was the someone? What was the something?

William Herondale actually grew the fuck up when Tessa told him she was marrying Jem. Will showed more compassion, more emotional maturity, more brains and suavity (is that even a word) and composure and wherewithal in the last 40 pages of the book than anyone had in the previous 460 (or in the other 2000 pages she’s written of anyone). But when Tessa burned her hand with the poker? Let’s make sure she gets her big-girl bloomers on before dinner, okay?

And as far as the “aggressive” poetry I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty sure people didn’t talk like that on a casual, interpersonal level. Actual poetry was invented for two reasons: 1) mnemonic devices, and 2) to get you laid. That bullshit at the end of the book, the letter from Will to Tessa, that crap about his heart like a bell or whatever… really? The impression I’m left with is that Clare read a lot of Austen and Bronte and other Victorian-era lady-written chicklit romances, and based her wordsmithery on this. It seems so much like Writing, like Crafting A Sentence, like she’s Letting Us Know She’s Read Victorian And Edwardian Literature And Knows How They Spake Unto One Another, that the prose seems to get away from her and snowballs into this living, pulsating, overwrought Baroque thing.

Anyway. There are things I like about this series, I swear. I really dig the idea of Nephilim Shadowhunters. I’m glad to see we are, generally, moving away from the vampire obsession. I’ve never had a thing for them, I don’t think they’re sexy, and I have a hard time not thinking of having sex with vampires as necrophilia. But hey, if you’re into that sort of thing, it’s only a class D felony. (Looking at you, Anita Blake and Bella Swan.) I think Clare’s got a cool thing happening with the angelic blood and the Marks and runes and whatnot. The larger mythology behind, as it’s revealed in the MI series, is pretty solid. I don’t get why this book isn’t shelved in Teen Paranormal Romance, but hey, I’m not sure why STRANGE ANGELS is. More good news? The Infernal Devices books are way less predictable than the Mortal Instruments ones. You’re welcome?

And the steampunk? It’s sort of there. They run into automatons twice, and there were little clockwork bug things at the end, and there’s supposed to be some kind of clockwork army, but it’s theoretical at best.

Here’s the really bad news: I’ve pretty much given up on Clare. I read the Mortal Instruments, as mentioned – but I only read the first three. I have zero interest in reading CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS, because as far as I’m concerned, that story concluded. What else was there left to do? Jace and Clary saved the world and got the… well, each other. (And of course they weren’t brother and sister. A little thing called writer contract.) And I’m probably not going to read CLOCKWORK PRINCESS either, and not because the Infernal Devices series is over, but because it’s not interesting.

3/5 stars. (Those scenes featuring Will after Tessa’s engagement announcement saved this from 2/5.) Follow @cassieclare on Twitter or visit her website.

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