Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Review: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

To me, one of the greatest things about urban fantasy is its ability to take the world as you know it and completely transform it into a place of otherworldly magic. That's probably one of the reasons why I fell head over heels in love with "The Mortal Instruments" series by Cassandra Clare, which, obviously led me to a fit of squeals and shrieks when I found out a couple years ago that a sister series "The Infernal Devices" was coming out! Even more demons, angels and Shadowhunters, oh my! Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end--in this case, in the form of "Clockwork Princess", the third and final book in "The Infernal Devices" trilogy.

Tessa Gray should be happy--aren't all brides happy? Yet as she prepares for her wedding with Jem, the silver-haired, gentle boy she's found herself falling in love with, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain is lurking from a distance, but he only needs one thing to complete his army of merciless automatons: Tessa. As she deals with Jem's fatal sickness and her conflicting feelings for Will, Tessa knows that it's only a matter of time before Mortmain comes for her, and she'll stop at nothing to protect the two boys she loves and the family she's grown into at the Institute--even if it means making dangerous choices that could threaten the survival of all Shadowhunters.

What I found extremely impressive in "Clockwork Princess" was, of course, the way Ms. Clare played out the love triangle between Tessa, Will and Jem, romance being one of the ever-present elements of the series. Usually you see the whole annoying thing where the heroine constantly wavers between the two boys, with melodramatic spiels on how she thinks she loves Boy #1, but wait, Boy #2 is not too shabby looking himself. Which, inevitably, leads to kissing both boys and messing around with them. But in "The Infernal Devices" trilogy, you get a romantic conflict that's dealt in a pretty mature manner, which I am ever grateful for. Tessa's a responsible, strong and loving heroine who's a delight to follow throughout the novel, and, on a completely different and not-so-salient note, all the more likable now that I know how she looks like! I mean, how beautiful is the cover? But I digress. I don't entirely know how I feel about how the love triangle turned out, but I definitely know that it was very clever of Ms. Clare, very clever indeed! Plus it's quite fitting considering everything that's happened in the series, and surprising in a pleasant, warm way.

And, like any other novel in the rows and rows of books on shelves, the characters in them are of utmost importance. "Clockwork Princess" is chock full of engaging, wonderful characters who really end up forming an expansive, protective family you can't help but warming to. There's the iron-willed yet caring Charlotte, her kooky and adorable husband Henry, Gideon and Gabriel Lightwood, Will's sister Cecily, the brave and scarred Sophie, even Bridgett and Cecil! And, of course, Tessa, Jem and Will. I liked how the novel jumped around between different points of view of the characters, because you really get to know them all so intimately. There's so much to say about all the characters, but I don't want to go on and on and bore you, so I'll just stick to the two ever-important boys, Jem and Will. The bond between the two parabatai is so palpable and unbreakable, despite the fact that they're as different as night and day. I loved the way their pasts were revealed in "Clockwork Princess", and how each of their pasts made them who they are in the present. But one thing I especially love is Will's humour. My goodness, it had me chortling at one point--in fact, I have to share it:

"Mr. Rochester never courted Jane Eyre," Tessa pointed out.
"No, he dressed up as a woman and terrified the poor girl out of her wits. Is that what you want?"
"You would make a very ugly woman."
"I would not. I would be stunning."

For some reason, that had me giggling! Like Jace from "The Mortal Instuments" series, Will is just so full of dry, sarcastic wit that just gets me going and makes him that much more likable. Jeez, no wonder Tessa loves both of them.

One of the more disappointing elements of "Clockwork Princess" was the plot. While it did remain sufficiently engaging throughout, I felt like the plot was a little stretched out and lingered too much in unnecessary places, such as Will's ride to Wales. I definitely think the novel would've been more exciting (though, I deceive you not, it's plenty exciting!) if it had been a little more fast-paced. I sometimes found myself skimming over some parts, which is never a very good sign. Another thing was how quickly the climax seemed to be done and over with. There wasn't much of a struggle in the final scene between Mortmain and Tessa, and it was just poof-kill-and done! So maybe that could've been a little more well developed, since, after all, this is the very last book of such an amazing trilogy.

Overall, "Clockwork Princess" is the not-to-be-missed final installment to "The Infernal Devices" series, with a great cast of characters and beautiful, compelling writing that had me tearing up--something that books I've read recently haven't made me done in a while. It's bittersweet to be saying goodbye to these people you've gotten to know and grown to love, but the wonderful, magical thing about books is that you can always go back and revisit them! I highly recommend "The Infernal Devices" trilogy, as well as "The Mortal Instuments" series if you haven't read that yet!

Rating: 4.5/5

*News flash!* I just found out that there'll be a brand new Shadowhunters series called "The Dark Artifices" in 2015, centering around one Emma Carstairs (Jem's relative?!). Hopefully things won't become repetitive with the whole Shadowhunters/demons/angels business. Geeeeee I'm excited!! I can't wait. (:

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