Quick & light but too similar to her other books, 2.5 stars
In Cassandra Clare's CLOCKWORK ANGEL, Tessa Gray comes to London to meet her brother after a ticket is sent to her in America. When her brother doesn't appear and two women called the Dark Sisters abduct her instead, Tessa finds herself drawn into the city's magical underworld for the misuse of powers she never knew she had. Later freed by the Shadowhunters, including the caustic and beautiful Will, Tessa begins to learn her place in their world as she continues her search for her brother. All the while, the Shadowhunters must fight increasingly dangerous and suspicious enemies, including ones that still want Tessa for themselves.
Like in her MORTAL INSTRUMENTS (MI) series, Clare has created an easy, quick, and sometimes entertaining read in CLOCKWORK ANGEL. Tessa was a likable protagonist, who's battling between Victorian norms and her own wishes to be more outspoken. Secondary characters, like Sophie, Thomas, and Charlotte, were interesting and sometimes more complex than the main characters. Favorite characters from MI appeared, including Magnus Bane, and readers get to learn their history. Some interesting plot twists emerged as things picked up near the end. This novel also contained the tightest, least flowery language I've ever read by the author.
The main downfall of the book, however, was that it felt entirely too similar to her previous books. The set-up is nearly the same: three young Shadowhunters at an Institute and a new girl - a girl who is quiet and naïve and something she never knew - now thrust into a world she didn't know existed. A main villain emerges and his nefarious plan will undoubtedly span across the trilogy. There's even a question of unclear parentage among one of the characters. Characters from MI are interchangeable with these new ones, with Will obviously a stand-in for Jace and Tessa so like Clary. Instead of Jem (the other young, male Shadowhunter ) being too much like Alec or Simon from MI, the relationship between Will and Jem was uncannily similar to the Ryves brothers in Rees Brennan's THE DEMON'S LEXICON trilogy. Pacing lagged significantly for the first 300 pages, and repetitive language patterns emerged that one can recognize from her other books. The steampunk elements felt unnecessary and underdeveloped, and there were contradictions in this mythology. Many plot points were left unexplained, and a cliffhanger ending results. Even with this cliffhanger, a sense of predictability looms regarding certain relationships and events. The sense of setting and time also failed, in that I never felt the characters were truly in Victorian England based on their interactions and language.
Though I found CLOCKWORK ANGEL to be unoriginal and predictable, I'm sure that many fans of Clare and the MI series will love it nonetheless. In the coming two books, I hope Clare brings more originality to her characterization and plot and a better sense of time and place to make for a more enjoyable read.