As promised, here is my book review for Clockwork Angel in the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. (Sorry this took me so long. Better late than never. I'm currently reading the second novel of the series Clockwork Prince and will try to get the review of it finished in a more timely fashion.)
First of all, I'd like to say I really like the setting. I've always had a soft spot for steampunk, especially set in London. I'm also very impressed with the author's knowledge of Victorian literature and culture. Specifically, the author has a verse from a Victorian story or poem at the beginning of every chapter and it's clear that she knows the geography of London as though she lives there.
Another interesting thing about this series is the fact that it's an urban fantasy story. There are elements of gothic horror and mystery. I really like the combination of steampunk and gothic horror which is something I would like to explore in the future as well. As with most young adult literature, there is a love story brewing throughout the book. I won't give any spoilers, but I will say that the love story itself is a strange one and it keeps you guessing..
The theme in this story is a secret organization of "shadowhunters" with angelic bloodlines hunting demons and keeping "mundanes" safe from the things that go bump in the night. While this theme has been done before, I think the author did a good job making the organization feel real with it's inner politics and the strange almost family-like dynamic created by the individuals within the institute.
The main character "Tessa" is a girl that has the power to use an object to transform into the owner of the object and view their memories. While she is a powerful female lead, there's a certain vulnerability to her that I find endearing. Her power makes her useful, but she is rescued by the other members of the institute frequently. While some might frown upon that sort of thing, I think it makes her transformation into a stronger character more important and being set in Victorian London (even though the character is from America) it makes more sense.
The only real criticism I have for this book is I really don't like changing perspectives. This might be a personal pet peeve of mine, but I've read other books that change perspective such as Stephen King's IT and it didn't bother me. Let me explain why I found it particularly irritating in this book.
I'm pretty sure Tessa is supposed to be the main character, but the book shifts between almost every member of the institute's point of view at least once. This means, that you look through another character's eyes at least seven times throughout the book and Tessa isn't in every scene. There are times that I wonder if Tessa is the main character or if Will and Jem are supposed to be the focus.I think Tessa is supposed to be the character the reader associates the most with, but with all the wavering back and forth it's hard to tell.
Also this shift usually happens during a cliffhanger scene when Tessa was in danger. When the character I care most about is in danger, I don't really care about Charlotte discussing institute politics with one of her contacts, I want to know what happened. It has a way of derailing the action and, about the time I get into the scene with the political discussion, I'm suddenly back to where I left off from the chapter before, or in a different scene entirely. It made the story feel disjointed and it kind of gave me spoilers about what the other characters were thinking.
Despite that one issue, this was a very good book. There is enough intrigue and mystery to keep you guessing at what the antagonist wants, though even at the end you don't really know. The ending seems to tie a few things up, but leaves other elements unsolved to explore in the second book. While that is an issue with some people, I don't think of that as a problem. I'm actually about halfway through Clockwork Prince right now, so clearly it left enough of a hook for me to want to buy the series. I suggest you do too. (Though there is only a hint of a love triangle in the first book, that is played up much more in the second.)
Well, I'm off to read more Clockwork Prince. I hope you find this review helpful, and if you like steampunk, gothic horror, hunters, secret organizations, or romance, Clockwork Angel is probably for you.