As a big fan of Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments trilogy, I was thrilled to receive an Advance Reader Copy of Clockwork Angel, the first installment of Clare's upcoming Nephilim prequel series, The Infernal Devices. Clockwork takes place around two centuries before TMI series, and deals with that series' predecessors.
I've always adored both Jace and Simon from TMI, loved their sarcasm, sharp insults, and intelligent humor, so it was a difficult for me to really dig into the extremely similar character template of Clockwork's Will (though in the fourth TMI novel, City of Fallen Angels, Clare has one character point out these similarities, so obviously the commonalities were at least somewhat intended). Unfortunately, for me the ways Will resembles Jace made the book feel repetitive to me.
On the other hand, Clare leaves us dead in the middle of several questions at the end of Clockwork, and if Will's actions indicate anything, it's that he has more of a fighter's spirit than Jace; Jace tends to fill himself with snark to cover over what he sees as his inevitable fate. In short, for now Will reminds me too much of Jace, and Jace did it better, but there's a definite possibility Will could surprise the daylights out of me.
Tessa, the heroine of the series, struck me as a little bland. She was likable enough, but so little of her personality was allowed to show it's hard to really identify with her, and while she seems the focal point of the story, I almost felt as if she were a throwaway character, only there to act as an extra for the real plot-makers, Will and Jem. Let's hope she gets less apathetic about her own role in the following additions.
And speaking of Jem, um hi, LOVE (if you haven't seen it by now, Jem's on the cover of book two in this series, Clockwork Prince, and it might be my favorite cover/coverboy EVAR). Jem's calm, almost-zen-like handling of both his own problems and Will's brawling temper are completely endearing. Unfortunately, Clare likes to twist our hearts, so I wouldn't at all be surprised if she intends to make us fall for the pale, gallant boy just before she breaks us with something monstrous about him.
In general, Clockwork Angel didn't snag me as much as the books of the TMI series, but it's early days, and if there's one thing Cassandra Clare has mastered, it's messing with a reader's feelings, and that is a WONDERFUL kind of catharsis, and that alone is worth giving this new set of characters and conflicts a chance to wrench our guts.
Clockwork Angel gets a Buy rating, due to it's relationship to other Nephilim novels, and in the hopes of subsequent installments adding to its quality.