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Sunday, 17 January 2016

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (Infernal Devices, #3) - Book Review

4.5/5 Stars

"You know that feeling," she said, "when you are reading a book, and you know that it is going to be a tragedy; you can feel the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing close around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged behind a carriage, and you cannot let go or turn the course aside."

"I feel now as if the same is happening, only not to characters on a page but to my own beloved friends and companions.

I do not want to sit by while tragedy comes for us."

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Edition: Paperback
Pages: 565
Chapters: 24 (Plus a prologue and an epilogue.)
Publisher: Walker Books

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

By the Angel, this is awesome!

Clockwork Princess dutifully closes The Infernal Devices trilogy with magic, mayhem and magnificence. It does sometimes spend an inordinate amount of time on things it could do without; its bulk giving way to long stretches of character interactions that aren't really needed. But overall it's a tight and terrific tale that ends the threads of the series with tragic and delightful glee.

The action and suspense is perfect, and while the immediacy might stutter, the resolving chapters and finale are astounding! 

SPOILER WARNING

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

The time has come.
Mortmain needs only one last thing to complete his plan to destroy the shadowhunters.
He wants Tessa.
But the London Institute of Angels is under its own danger.
Enemies within their ranks threaten to leave them out in the cold, and Tessa's split love could make our cast vulnerable.
The end draws near.
And no one will be the same...

Plot - 4.5/5 Stars

A thrilling start resolves a certain plot (the Lightwoods' father) with an action-packed battle with a huge demonic worm! At the same time Clare expertly works in some ominous foreshadowing, coalescing the series' threads in anticipation for the big finale. I always love the last book in a trilogy, when questions are answered and your perseverance is rewarded; Clockwork Princess does not disappoint, working with urgency and impending doom.

We do follow a lot of the same ground Clockwork Prince does, which I feel renders the second entry rather obsolete. Clockwork Princess also suffers from this, with the reader becoming fatigued with the same plots yet again.

On the plus side, this entry answers the questions that have been plaguing us from the beginning, and the resolutions are welcome and fantastic. The quality overall is stellar, and despite my apprehension at the drip-by-drip progression, the end it cultivates should give Cassandra Clare an ego boost, because it is bloody brilliant!

The twists, predominantly set from the third quarter onwards, are gut-punching and gasp-inducing. Jem's death and subsequent return; Tessa's origins and powers are explained, ending with her turning into an angel (yes, an angel! She turns back of course); Tessa and Will; Tessa and future Jem...

Trust me, Clockwork Princess is a rewarding experience.

And when you reach those final pages, they are so bittersweet and hopeful that you cannot stop the lump that forms in your throat.

Pace - 4/5 Stars

The middle of the novel is infuriating; things are too fluffed out. It has a strange sort of balance, with positive and negative aspects. The action and structure are sound, but the meandering pace really sets the reader back. It's impossible to put your finger on what the story could do without, but the stretched scenes demand more brevity.

The beginning and last quarter really do make up for things, and overall there is a definite air of finality.

Characters - 4.5/5 Stars

The cast chemistry, as always, is amazing. Clare's upkeep of the quality doesn't waver an inch, and the interactions are as hooking as they've always been. Even if there are many of the same conversations and heart-to-hearts throughout the novel.

One thing that does frustrate me is Tessa. For the majority of the time she's a feisty and capable protagonist who's as mysterious as she is engaging. It's just one interaction that undermines her character:

'we are cleverer and more determined and more patient than men'

This series has always alluded to the sexism prevalent in the years the story is set, and it has always done it well. Clockwork Princess focuses on it a little more, and while granted the quote above is Tessa's rebuke of a horrible douche, it just feels so disingenuous to Tessa's character and the rest of the cast. For one, Tessa, at this point, is betrothed to Jem, perhaps the most intelligent, persevering and calm person the book has to offer. Not only that, but in response to sexism, Clare and Tessa commit the same crime of acting superior, rather than acknowledging a balance.

You cannot overcome prejudice by committing the same narrow-minded mentality as that which you are fighting. 

On the plus side, and a massive plus at that, Clare redeems this thread of the plot with Charlotte and the Consul. The Consul, a deceitful and power-hungry man, seeks to usurp stoic and capable Charlotte from her leadership role. It's a riveting subplot that ends in a satisfying way, highlighting Charlotte's intelligence, compassion and strength in opposition to the Consul's malevolent intentions.

Tessa shakes away the negativity at the end, and with Clare's twist of heavenly proportions, you'll be completely inspired. 

Speaking of Jem above, it's his character that I feel gives the novel the grievous gravity it's been missing. Clare leads us to believe he is dead, and in a way he is, but the situation gives the story the push and weight it needs to get the reader to the final page.

And finally, finally, Tessa and Will come together! Gosh, it's about time. Their life together is amazingly sweet, and the epilogue at the end really brings everything full circle.

Writing - 4.5/5 Stars

While still of a standard of the highest, Clockwork Princess's tendency to rattle on a little too much bleeds into the writing. For example, if I have to hear how callused another character's hands are I might lose the will to live...

Overall it's as beautiful as ever, and the sentences are smooth and often lyrical.

Overall - 4.5/5 Stars

Normally I'd be gutted at the end of a smashing series, but one must only wait until March for a new story set in the same world. Look out for Lady Midnight, people!


Previous Instalment: Clockwork Prince


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