“Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare: a book review


Unembellished, functional, utilitarian fantasy: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare is cheese pizza: it’s good, but nothing’s on it. This series is the cheese pizza of Young Adult/Teen Pop Lit right now. Good, but, so what?

Its set-up and execution serves its purpose, nothing more. The depth is not there and the large cast of characters feels small or disposable from lack of character building in the first 100 pages. The reader can’t know anything beyond this: a teenage female protagonist is looking for her brother and gets mad or curious or happy when situation are present accordingly. Flat. There isn’t a whole lot to Tessa. The first 100 pages see little plot progress, which would be okay if we are getting world building, which is only so-so, or maybe character building, but there is very little of that. I don’t care how good the rest of ANY book becomes later, you’d better have me hooked by page 100, or, what the hell are you doing writing with such pacing? Something needs to fill in and merit such pacing. There’s so little here.

This continues in the second act. Good luck.

Plus the dialogue! Could no one in the publishing house weed it down a bit? Reel it in? Page 75 to 96 was nothing but walking around the building they live in establishing vague plot and predictable world-building and I was falling asleep. The first five chapters, almost entirely but not fully, are charged with creative manslaughter and dialogue abuse in the first degree: paragraphs of dialogue, pages of it, tiresome peripheral convos, and dizzying historical banters and babblings. Lazy, lazy, lazy. This could have been told in 75 pages, not 100.

So, let’s move away from the first half of the book.

Her popularity: let’s chat about that.

Again, she may not be as poor as I am making her sound, granted, but she is certainly “good” at best and is ASTOUDINGLY, INCREDIBLY over-rated. I can understand 3 and 3.5 stars. Really, I can. But, any other “hot author” from the past 12-months has her dead to rights in the “ability to tout the praise” area: including Suzanne Collins, Laini Taylor, and Veronica Roth.

About the characters: Will Herondale is the only character fleshed out, and the Dark Sisters are cool, though evil archetypes—and generic at that. Still enjoyable villains.

The Genre: Decent fantasy, poor attempt of “steam-punk.”

Serving as a prequel series to Cassandra Clare’s original “Mortal Instruments” series, I was told the first book in this “Infernal Devices” series, Clockwork Angel, was quality enough to stand on its own. Awesome stuff, I was promised. That statement is…. Ehhh….

City of Bones MUST be better than this, or I just won’t understand her popularity. However debatably good the ending of this might be, and it leaves a lot hanging, it doesn’t make up for the bad taste lingering in your mouth from the first half. Why do I have to pay 15 dollars three or more times for a serialized trilogy story so unworthy of fifty-ish dollars?

Stop with the filler, YA publishers and authors. Stop. Give us quality. A sequel if pertinent only. If I wanted magic and race-separatism and clever made-up words, I’d read “Harry Potter.”

If I wanted paranormal romance, I’d read “Paranormalcy” or “Twlight.”

If I wanted fable, myth, and consequences for not completing otherworldly tasks, I’d dig into “Daughter of Smoke & Bone.”

All of the above titles deliver better on their themes and tones than this novel, which tries to mash them all together. By not focusing on one thing, but rather talking at the reader through exposition about many shallow things, we’re left unsatisfied and unmotivated with drudgingly slow and mediocre plot. I’ll say it like this: reading to discover a frustrating, itching answer to a question or reading because your enthralled by a plot are two different things. Both will keep you reading, but in one of these instances, you’re made about it. You have to know the ending, right? I kept reading because I was pissed off and wanted answers. I wanted to find the brother, and maybe in the process, find out why this book was so damned popular.


Get to the 100 page marks of both “Clockwork Angel”, and say, “Divergent”, and tell me which one earned it’s page count. Which one “moves and grabs.” Clare is just in need of a good copy editor. There is flat prose and style issues that could easily be improved by a knowledgeable team and a willing, open, non-egomaniacal author. Not that Clare is one, but I’m merely stating that great books come from a great team with an author who works with her criticisms pre-release, and I hope Clare is one of those level-headed non-control freaks. For every 100 pages of this book, 20 pages at least could have been chopped out.

This 480 page book could have been a well-paced 400-page novel, but, no.

So, disclaimer: I didn’t wanna hate this! I loved the first 50 pages! I really did!

I went into this title really amped up. My co-workers and friends said “rock on” and I heard nothing but praise for it. I genuinely feel bad that I’ve been left out of what seems to be a really exciting series for the majority of people who read this.

According to Goodreads.com, Cassandra Clare’s series’ (“the Mortal Instruments” and “the Infernal Devices”) both average over 70% of people who read it gave it a 4 or 5 star books. Amazin, right? I’m sorry that I’m not on the bandwagon, because I sure as hell would love to able to get into it and be excited for the film that is being made from her earlier title from the Mortal Instruments series: “City of Bones.”

Wrapping this up: Again, this is a “buy my sequel, buy my series, buy the next book in ten months” publishing ploy and I’m starting to really be irritated by that. Don’t abuse our wallets with your sham, publishers! Don’t make your authors fluff and fatten and filler their novels. We’re being used, fellow readers. Write one good book. Maybe two. Remember those days? I can’t.

This last bit may sound harsh, but there is just so much better stuff out right now between 2011’s Fall and 2012’s Spring publishing flood that this should be on the bottom of your list if it’s even on it. I’ll read “City of Bones” in the Fall, maybe, and make my final judgment on whether Cassandra Clare can live or not.




Filed under Book Reviews

3 responses to ““Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare: a book review

  1. wordpressreport

    Reblogged this on WordPress Report.

  2. mollyspring

    Oh, I couldn’t agree more.

    The hype surrounding these astounds me. I’ve only read Clockwork Angel, because the idea of steampunk angel/vampire thing was an exciting concept for me. But so much pointless description (of clothes and rooms, not particularly world-building or character-building exposition) and the characters are all caricatures with no depth. I like the idea of this book. I like her idea of supernaturalness in here. But it just falls very flat.

    And I definitely hate the churning out books for money approach to writing. There’s a lot of filling and padding in here.

    I had a very low opinion of Clare, because I knew a bit of her history, and then did read a fantastic blog post victim-blaming and rape culture, that did raise her in my esteem.

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