Cassandra Clare is a big name in the Young Adult literature world. Her books are all best-sellers and everybody is raving about them. Her book, City of Bones, the first in The Mortal Instrument series is being adapted into a film. Her latest series is The Infernal Devices, a prequel to The Mortal Instruments, set in Victorian England. Last year, I reviewed the first Infernal Devices book, Clockwork Angel, which I quite enjoyed. It left me curious enough to pick up its sequel Clockwork Prince. While I think Clare has created a rather imaginative series and story, her latest book is a disappointment.
Clockwork Prince is slow. I’m a fast reader, and it took me six weeks to gather up enough will to finish it. Once I got 300 pages in, the pace finally began to pick up, and I finished the rest within hours. A lot of nothing happens in the first two thirds of Clockwork Prince. I know fans of the series will disagree with me. But spending much of the book dealing with Tessa’s romantic exploits and the villain Mortmain’s backstory was hardly interesting enough. I love romance as much as the next person. (Hey, I’m a Twilight fan.) The relationship between Jem and Tessa that develops seems so insincere. I always liked their friendship, but I couldn’t help but be surprised with how enamored Jem became with Tessa. I mean, I like Jem, more than Will even. Yet, I *know* that a romantic relationship with Tessa doesn’t feel right. It just seems rather cruel that Clare would explore this avenue. In fact, I find it to be kind of a manipulative effort to pull at our heartstrings. Those last few scenes would’ve done me in, if I didn’t feel a waft of phoniness coming from it. Do we really think that Jem and Tessa will end up together? No. And I don’t know about you, but are we ready to spend 3/4ths of Clockwork Princess in heartbroken despair? Yeah, I’m not.
The villain doesn’t appear once in the story at all. In fact, we learn a lot about his past and some about his present. I thought Mortmain an interesting character in the first book. However, I don’t think he’s interesting enough to have an entire book dedicated to his back story. In ways, this book reminded me a lot of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. (Funny, both have “prince” in their titles. I just noticed that. Coincidence?) The 6th Potter book was in part dedicated to learning about Voldemort’s past. Voldemort is a notorious and great villain. We had practically five books of his devious, excellently-written villain-y. Hence, of course, I was MORE than eager to devour some Voldemort back story. Mortmain as a villain is nowhere near that level. I find him interesting, and some back story about him in the span a few chapters are fine. But Clockwork Prince spends most of its first half revolving around it.
Like I mentioned earlier, Cassandra Clare created a pretty cool imaginative world. Her descriptions of Victorian London are rich and one of my favorite things about her books. She also writes some clever and funny dialogue, and that helps the story more along better. (The little side story with Charlotte and Henry was cute.) She writes well; my main issues just have to do with her plot and pacing. Clockwork Prince would’ve been a better read if she condensed some things and added some more action and a tad more intrigue. Despite my disappointment with this book, I do want to read the next (and last) book, Clockwork Princess. I like the characters enough to care about what happens to them next. I just hope the story picks up the pace, tones down the heartbreak, and we get one hell of ending to make up for this one.
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (December 6, 2012)
Length: 528 pages, Hardcover
Series: Book 2 of 3
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Historical-Fiction
Completed: February 2012