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Review: Clockwork Prince *minimal to no spoilers*

Clockwork Prince (#2)
by Cassandra Clare

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Release Date: December 6, 2011
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Imprint of Simon & Schuster)
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Library Check-Out
Rating: Perfect Bed Partner
About the Book:
In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.
Will's desperation for a resolution to an unseen problem left us all frantic for the next page in Clockwork Angel, when, in truth, there wouldn't be any new revelations until Clockwork Prince. A sliver of hope of discovering the truth of Will's past and unraveling the long-buried mystery behind his razorblade sharp demeanor glimmers in the fading light during his visit to Cross Bones Graveyard, where we piggyback Will's shadow and traipse through the ghost-ridden graveyard trying to puzzle out his presence there. But within a few pages into the book it becomes evident that piecing together the elusive past of the strangely charming, exceptionally handsome Will Herondale will prove to be much more involved and complex than one would hope. Clockwork Prince is abound with intricate characters whose motives are only partially revealed, sickening treachery, and is propelled by a confusing plot whose pieces must slowly and methodically be glued together in order to obtain the properly fitting picture.

In Clockwork Prince we're introduced to several third person narratives, in which Clare no longer cloaks the vulnerabilities and hopes of these significant band of characters. Will, Tessa, and Jem are no longer the only ones put under the magnifying glass, but Sophie, Charlotte, Henry, and Magnus join the foray for their debut or second showing depending. As the book progresses, these characters grow more dear to your heart for it. On the one hand there's Will fervently trying to suck the poison from his heartbreaking life, Jem who is feverishly battling his wretched disease which may claim his life at any moment, and Tessa who seeks the truth about her origins. But also thrown into the very intriguing mix is Sophie's desperate need to be loved and comforted while still retaining strength and independence, Charlotte's need for a love she thinks hasn't already been given (not to mention the added stress of the running of the Institute being in jeopardy), Henry's desire to help his fellow Shadowhunters, and Magnus's idealistic, inescapable urge to heal what may be perpetually broken. This exposure to their inner workings made me love these characters so much more, as they didn't just make me feel but feel passionately, strongly, scoring marks into my heart in places that inflicted pain and others which incited wonder.

Clare seems to have a penchant for concocting elaborate story lines, which overlap much like a movie viewed through perspectives that constantly flip. Her web of events is as complicatedly detailed and fascinating as the real spider's curious, tricky handicraft. And we are the airborne winged-prey so easily captured. There seems to be no end to the suspense, the maddening wondering that permeates the pacing. And although Clockwork Prince predominantly focuses on digging up answers as opposed to spotlighting the Magister in the now of their time, there's this ascending darkness, the tremors of his evil machinations indicating a shocking earthquake of events eager to burst forth.

What's close to bursting as well is my heart, as the romance is devastating in the most beautiful torturous way (with the exception of the side couples, whom I ADORED - hullo, Charlotte and Henry *sighs dreamily*). It seems no great loves can occur without tragedy, at least not the kind that imprints on your enduring memory, as that's what I feel will happen for me when it comes to the Will/Tessa/Jem saga. I fiercely loved Will in Clockwork Angel, instantly drawn to him, and have been Team Will since I read it. Clare tests your "firm" loyalties in this sequel, peeling pack layers on both love interests to reveal irresistible centers that will have you teetering in your judgements no matter which point of the triangle you find yourself. (And I look at this situation very much as a triangle, as it can be sorted out in three different ways - Tessa could choose to be with Will, Jem, or choose to refuse both in order to avoid setting them against each other.) But by the end of the book, I remained confident in my choice, no matter how delicious Jem presented himself (GUYS, there's a Sexy Tender Bed Scene) nor how often he evoked such tenderness from me.

Either way, I don't see a clear-cut choice ahead nor do I see a truly "happy" ending. I don't even want to make assumptions as to how this trilogy is going to end. Cassie has done nothing but show us that we, frankly, know nothing and are assumptions are giant bags of CRAP. One thing that is indisputable is my amazement at this installment. I'm not 100% certain this is the BEST book she's ever written, as so many are claiming, but Clare clearly brings her all and whatever else she can find, and lays it all out slowly, agonizingly, deliciously until we're all hopeless addicts.
"Perhaps she's a girl who's fallen madly in love with me and persists in following me wherever I go."
"My talent is _____, Will, not acting," said Tessa, and at that Jem laughed out loud.

"I hit her on the head with a mirror," Sophie said hopelessly. "One of those silver-backed ones, so it was quite heavy. She went down just like a stone, miss. So I... I tied her to the bed and I came looking for you."
"Let me see if I have this quite correct," said Tessa after a pause. "_____ found you with the invitation in your hand, so you struck her over the head with a mirror and tied her to the bed?"
(50%) Fist pumps for Sophie!!


Wendy Darling said...

I'm always amazed at Clare's intricate plotting, too; I've read she outlines all three of each series before she ever starts writing a single word.

I'm so glad you loved this too! I loved Henry and Charlotte...and I agree, I'm not sure I see a truly happy ending, either. :( Now the wait for Princess begins...

Amalia said...

I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't read The Infernal Devices series yet! It's been on hold for so long and now that the second book has come out, I really have to get my hands on Clockwork Angel.

Jenny said...

"And we are the airborne winged-prey so easily captured."

SO TRUE! This was an absolutely stunning review Asher, just beautifully written and insightful. I'm so excited to read this one, Will and Jem and Tessa pull at my heart strings and always have me crazy emotionally involved. It seems like that's definitely going to continue and intensify in this book!

Natalia Belikov @ Dazzling Reads said...

I know! the romance is devastating! sniff! Amazing review my dear!!! Oh hell yeah! and what an accurate rating!! I couldnt have say it better hohohohohoho!! Will and Jem in bed... holy cow!! I mean...not together though it doesnt bother me but me in between would be much better XD LOL!

Dazzling Reads

Liz. R said...

The love triangle is agonising! Ah, I loved this book. SO much. I'm definitely one of the people that think this is Clare's best book so far (though CA is a pretty close second :P). Glad you loved it - I can't wait for Clockwork Princess! Great review :).

Tribute Books said...

Great review, Asher!

I'm about 50 pages in, and you're right I can see the framework being laid for the build-up of the supporting characters like Sophie and Magnus.

Thanks to your description - I'm even more eager to get to the end.

Missie said...

Yay!!! I'm so looking forward to reading this book. Glad to know the Awesomeness of it can't be disputed!

Amy said...

I have this on my shelf waiting to be read, but for the life of me I can't remember what happened in Clockwork Angel!! Great review and thanks for stopping by!

Amy @ Following The Reader

Madigan McGillicuddy said...

BRILLIANT review! I'd given up on this series, but I still really enjoyed getting your take on it.

Mimi Valentine said...

*cheers and dances and tries not to smile like an idiot but fails anyways* I'm SO SO SO happy you loved this book like I did, Asher!!!! It was such an amazing book and I agree with you completely when you say that Cassie Clare creates some of the most elaborate story lines, perfectly flawed characters, and heartbreaking romances that make you want to tear your heart out because you know that there will never truly be a "happy" ending!

AMAZING review, Asher!! <3 :)