January 13, 2013

Review: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Published: 2011, Margaret K. McElderry Books
Series: The Infernal Devices, #2
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fantasy
Source: Library book
Contains spoilers for Clockwork Angel (my review)

I feel myself dissolving, vanishing into nothingness, for if there is no one in the world who cares for you, do you really exist at all?

While I did enjoy Clockwork Prince as I was reading it, looking back on it, it seems like more in-the-moment enjoyment. In many ways, Clockwork Prince did feel a little bit like a filler novel. The stakes are raised, there are a few new characters and conflicts, but, ultimately, the novel is still a continuation of the Shadowhunters' conflict with the Magister and Tessa's search for identity. Nevertheless, the novel is an entertaining second installment in The Infernal Devices trilogy.

Although the identity of the mysterious and deadly enemy of the Shadowhunters, the Magister, is known, little else is. The Shadowhunter Institute is reeling from the misdirected attack on the vampire de Quincy while the Magister was able to successfully infiltrate the London Enclave with his clockwork devices, kill a few people, and flee with Shadowhunters none the more knowledgeable about him. And now the Shadowhunters are divided: Benedict Lightwood and a few others no longer believe that the London Enclave is in good hands. In response to this challenge, Charlotte and Henry, along with their younger charges, have two weeks to try to shed more light on the Magister and learn just why he's made the destruction of the Shadowhunters into his personal vendetta. In addition to searching for the Magister, Tessa and her friends continue to seek the truth about Tessa's background and just why she's such an desired asset to the Magister.

As with Clockwork Angel, Clare's second novel in The Infernal Devices trilogy is a fast-paced adventure. Many of the conflicts remain the same (which at times made it feel as though Clockwork Prince was not really adding anything new to this series), but the stakes have been raised. In addition to the actual time limit, characters' allegiances continue to be tested and their previously held truths are put into question. With a few exceptions, however, I did not have as much trouble identifying those characters with underlying motivations upfront. Nonetheless, the plot twists were just as exhilarating to read as they were in Clockwork Angel.

The members of our leading trio continue to become further fleshed-out. Tessa will never be a fighter necessarily, but she undergoes a bit of internal growth as she must come to terms with Nate's betrayal, her inexplicable shapechanging abilities, her value to the enemy, and the ever-changing knowledge of her own origins. If I had to describe Tessa in one word, I'd say that she is a trooper. She's a pacifist and has certain expectations for how things should be, but due to her time spent with the Shadowhunters, she's become more adaptable. Will is not quite as enigmatic in this installment, even turning into a more sympathetic character as bits of his past are gradually revealed. The chance to delve into his inner psyche and the reasons behind his actions felt satisfying after enduring so many pages of his sarcasm and bitterness. Jem remains my favorite character, however. He does not possess any traits that make him stand out the way that Tessa and Will do, but he's easily the character that's most true to himself. His problems are not any easier than Tessa or Will's, yet he is the one who remains stoic, compassionate, and kind throughout the novel.

I must admit that the development of the secondary characters is very well done. With the stakes raised, readers are able to witness new growth for both Charlotte and Henry. The Lightwood family, Jessamine, and even other Shadowhunters are given their own conflicts and motiviations. Sophie may be a female servant living in a fantasy-Victorian England, but she is treated like a human (imagine that) and Tessa and others do not dismiss Sophie's mourning over her two friends even when there are currently bigger issues. In fact, overall I appreciated how much Shadowhunters took care of their own. Especially at odds with the socially, economically, and gender-divided Victorian society, the Shadowhunters treated each other with respect and equality. I am not sure the same can be said for their treatment of Downworlders...but I suppose I can't expect everything.

Perhaps the main reason I'm not a fan of love triangles is that I believe most are poorly contrived ways to keep the readers invested in the characters and their relationships. I'd even go so far as to say that some love triangles seem to develop the characters more through their convoluted relationships to others than through the personal development of that specific character. I mention this because a pretty substantial love triangle forms during the course of Clockwork Prince. Of course it centers around our protagonist Tessa. And of course the two romantic interests are Will and Jem, not only Shadowhunter friends but also parabatai. Their bonds of friendship and brotherhood should be more important than any romantic feelings. The added complication that the love triangle features two players whose bonds should be stronger than life itself bothered me to no end. It is also completely obvious that Tessa prefers one of the boys more, yet instead of doing anything, she's simply wracked with guilt. By the conclusion of the book, Clare has guaranteed that any amicable resolution to this romantic entanglement is near impossible.

The Infernal Devices will never be among my favorite YA fantasy series in part, I think, due to the fact that I'm no longer a teen. Although this book had its fair share of annoyances, I have enjoyed the experience of actually reading both Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince so far. I definitely plan on reading Clockwork Princess upon its release.
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Amanda loves few things better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. She frequently stays up far too late, telling herself she just needs to finish one more page. When she's not wrapped up in the stories of others, Amanda works as a children's librarian in a public library.


  1. Yes, the love triangle could've been avoided. I have to agree. I was honestly hoping Jem was gay. *Don't give me that look* His homosexuality would clear up all this love triangle mess tho. Unless he liked Will. But then Will wouldn't like him back. Never mind, I'm thinking of another series by this same author and this is probably confusing you.

    As for your review, I love that it's mainly positive. Will will always be my number one because I find he develops much more as a character and is much more interesting than Jem. I do find some annoyances with this series, but overall, I can't help but love it. Great review!

    1. Ahaha you know me too well. The look was already in place as I started realizing what your sentence there was about. I *do* want Tessa and Will to get together because I believe Jem can do so much better. And no giving me a look in return!

      Mainly positive, I suppose. It started out being negative. I still kinda feel like this was a filler novel. That was my initial thought. Then I realize some development did happen and all. But I can't ignore those initial thoughts. So we'll see how things get resolved. Thanks, Court! :)

  2. You know, I never thought about the love triangle in the same sense you did. It IS one where the friendship of two friends is being tested, but I think that's what makes it so heartbreaking. Tessa and Will so obviously have a chemistry and understanding that Jem and Tessa, despite their feelings for one another, lack, but the fact that Will is willing to sacrifice his love so that his 'brother' can be happy is what gets to me every time! I do hate that it can't have an amicable ending and Jem deserves better than a girl who potentially has feelings for his 'brother', so I'm curious to see how I like the conclusion, but I'm hopeful that Clare will end it well. I loved the way City of Glass ended (don't plan on picking up the next three books though), so I hope Clockwork Princess is a success. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Amanda - you always bring up really thought-provoking points, which I love! :)

    1. Maybe it's because I'm determined to think the most of the majority of love triangles that I read. I don't blame Jem or Will at all for this love triangle. My annoyances are laid firmly on Tessa's shoulders. She never admits to loving Jem - caring for him, yes, but that's not a reason to agree to marry someone! I think she could have - should have - handled this all better. But I guess I'm curious to see how it resolves. If it resolves with Jem's death, I will never forgive Clare for taking the easy way out (though I don't really think that it will). And thank you, Keertana! That means a lot to hear that from you. :)

  3. I love reading your, Keertana and Courtney's discussion about the love triangle at play in this book, and honestly I can't add anything more to what has been said.You guys all make valid points that i agree with. But can I just, for a moment, give you a big online high five for liking Jem more than Will? For reasons that are beyond me, I, who almost ALWAYS love the bad boy more than the good guy, absolutely LOVE Jem. And it's not just for sympathy's sake. I think he is such an awesome character (and yes, WAY too good for both Tess and Will.)

    Don't get me wrong, I like Will too. As far as bad boys go he's pretty great. And I am 99.9% sure he will end up with Tessa. But gosh, it is so nice to find a fellow Jem fan among the VAST sea of Will fans out there:) And his cover image is pretty easy on the eyes as well!

    1. haha yes. I have many thoughts on it, obviously. :) And yes! Let's high five! I figured that I'd be mostly alone in my Jem love, so I am SO HAPPY to hear that you agree with me. I usually like the bad boy too, but Will being like Draco/Jace coupled with Jem being awesome overall makes me like Jem much more. Jem's so pure and good, but not like naive. He's just a genuinely good guy. So that is Jem on this cover? I wasn't sure if Will was on the first and Jem on the second or what. But that makes sense. And yes, he looks quite nice. :)

  4. Yeah... I know what you mean about this one being mostly filler. I loved Clockwork Angel and its setup of the story, but I don't remember being as excited by the developments on action scenes in Clockwork Prince. And the love triangle - I agree with your thoughts. It just seemed almost cruel of Tessa because she does clearly favour one and feels more sorry for the other... I just feel sorry for Jem, who is also my favourite character. Critiques aside, I do agree that this is a fun series. I always really love Clare's characters, almost all of them, which is rare. Definitely looking forward to Clockwork Princess to see how it all ends (and who will end up with their heart broken...)!

    1. I had a legit freakout for a moment while trying to write this review. I was sitting there in front of my computer and was like...okay, what happened? And at first I couldn't think of anything new at all. Obviously there are some major things that happen. But I don't think that was a good first sign.

      Yay another Jem fan! :) I almost hope that Tessa and Jem don't get married. Tessa and Will can be together, but I want Jem to find a cure and happiness in his life (and that doesn't need to be through a romance necessarily). I, too, am eager to see how it ends!

  5. More and more books are in-the-moment enjoyment, and the more I read, the more of these I forget.
    I'm not a fan of love trangles either and it's the main thing that bothers me about this series, although I do enjoy it overall. There's just too much angst and guilt for my taste, and I agree with you that the characters (boys especially) should sort their priorities. Some friends they are.
    Anyway, fantastic review!

    1. It is an unfortunate thing to be trending. Hopefully it stops, or we as readers become more discerning of books that fit into that category.
      Glad I'm not the only one annoyed by love triangles. Oh well. Maybe, maybe Clare can rectify this? I can only hope, at least.
      Thanks, Maja!

  6. Love this discussion. Love any love triangle discussion. I'm gearing up to read the final installment as well. I really think it's interesting above when you say: " I'd even go so far as to say that some love triangles seem to develop the characters more through their convoluted relationships to others than through the personal development of that specific character." That is so true. Entire stories can get be symbolized by their love triangles, especially when the two choices represent different aspects of the main character and choosing between them is like choosing what the person is to become. Does that make sense?

    Anyway, this is actually one of the few love triangles that I've really liked, because it is so complicated AND includes a relationship between all parties. Of course that makes it more heartbreaking, and there's no way that EVERYONE can be happy at the end. But I'm very curious to see how she works this one out. I agree with the points made about it above - I think Will will probably end up with Tessa. I think it's a red-herring that Jem will die, because it's been talked about a lot. Though this book is also supposed to be a reaction to The Tale of Two Cities, which means that all those points could be reversed in the end. In any case I cannot wait to get my hands on this book!

    1. ha I bet. Love triangle discussions are definitely interesting. :) And I know! I completely get what you're saying and we're on the same page there. I do think, however, that I'm allowing a few terrible ones to affect how I view them all, so that's something I do need to try to fix. And yeah I can't imagine Jem dying. That's wayyy too much of a cop out move and I think Clare is a better author than that.

      And wait...what? This is a reaction to A Tale of Two Cities?! How did I not know that? That's awesome! I may need to go back and read this series from that perspective years down the road and see if that helps me better appreciate it.


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