Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Prince

I have read each book in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series twice. Clare’s The Infernal Devices, is a prequel series to The Mortal Instruments and Clockwork Prince is the second in that series. 

Cassandra Clare has created a new race of superheroes which she has donned as Shadowhunters. Shadowhunters are a race of Nephilim-people who are half angel and half human. They have special abilities that include increased strength and agility and the power to create and bare ancient runes. These ancient runes possess many magical powers and when inked onto the Shadowhunter like a tattoo, transfer that specific power to the wearer. They do this with a special tool all Shadowhunters have. The powers are endless-providing energy, speed, keen sight, or even healing powers. Some marks are temporary and some are permanent, but all are sacred to the Shadowhunter world. 

Shadowhunters protect mundanes (humans) like you and I from all manner of dark and evil creatures. 

Now, besides the unique concept of the Shadowhunter world, there is infinitely more to love about Clare’s books. 

Clare has the uncanny ability to write characters that leap off of the page and into your heart...or under your skin. Even her minor characters leave impressions on the backs of your eyelids. Clare gives her characters more than just description and dialogue, she gives them a strong pulse and sense of realness that you can practically feel their sweat through the pages. 

Such is the case for Clockwork Prince the second installment in The Infernal Devices series. This novel is riddled with characters worth writing about-but for sake of not wanting to gush over every one-I’ll stick to the ones that I swoon over. 

Will, Jem, and Tessa. Three main characters of the story which all have instances where the third person Point of View (POV) focuses from their vantage point. Clare uses the third POV throughout her novels, allowing the readers into the minds of several different characters. Her technique is flawless and never once have I had to stop and wonder ‘ok whose mind am I in now?’ The transitions are effortless and the train of thinking is easily followable. Now for the characters. 

Will and Jem are two 17 year old male Shadowhunters who live in 18th century England.  They are blood brothers sworn to protect each other in the line of duty (fighting demons, etc.) Each one is gorgeous in their own right and each one has a personality that is starkly different from the next. Will is sharp as a razor. Jem is as comforting as a warm blanket. And both become the object of affection for the third main character Tessa. Tessa happens to be a downworlder (a name for warlocks, werewolves, vampires, etc) yet they aren’t sure what type of downworlder she is-except that she is a good one and on their side. She lives in the institute with the Shadowhunters, acting as a sort of liaison-aiding the Shadowhunters in their mission to take down an evil man trying to kill them all off. Her character is witty, sympathetic, and easily relatable. She is thrust into a mythical world she could never have imagined and above all that, she has fallen in love with two boys-both of which love each other like brothers. 

This is one of Clare’s more genius plot lines. She has taken the typical “love-triangle” and turned it on its head. Here we have a balanced love triangle-one where there is no hate that plays into it. Jem and Will love each other like blood and both love Tessa (though neither knows of the other’s feelings) and Tessa loves each in their own way. Clare’s use of this storyline gives the novel a certain immediacy-you’re dying to turn the page because you don’t know what will happen. As a reader, we love all three characters...there is no clear winner as to which person Tessa should end up with. This is part of Clare’s brilliance in writing-like I said before her characters are so real you find yourself hopeless worrying over them! 

Another strength of Clare’s is setting. She describes 18th century England so magnificently I feel as if I had a past life there. Clare weaves sentences together with descriptors and emotions and complies them in a way to reveal the entirety of the place through the characters eyes. We see as they see and feel as they feel. This is true of many novels, but none that I have experienced have been as strong as Clare’s. She makes you smell the rain in the air and feel the bite of the wind blowing through England. 

Clockwork Prince turned out to be another classic Clare novel-brilliant. Clare puts you in the story and as a reader you have to force yourself out-I mean there are things to do during the day and night that don’t involve reading-but Clare makes it awfully tempting to shirk responsibilities and bedtimes.