Audiobook Review: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Audiobook Review: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra ClareClockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Narrator: Ed Westwick, Heather Lind
Length: 15 hrs, 30 mins
Series: The Infernal Devices #2
Published by Recorded Books on December 6, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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two-half-stars

It’s time—for the riveting sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling Clockwork Angel! The situation at the London Institute has never been more precarious. With Mortmain and his clockwork army still threatening, the Council wants to strip Charlotte of her power and hand the running of the Enclave over to the unscrupulous and power-hungry Benedict Lightwood. In the hope of saving Charlotte and the Institute, Will, Jem, and Tessa set out to unravel the secrets of Mortmain’s past—and discover unsettling Shadowhunter connections that hold the key not only to the enemy’s motivations, but also to the secret of Tessa’s identity. Tessa, already caught between the affections of Will and Jem, finds herself with another choice to make when she learns how the Shadowhunters helped make her a “monster.” Will she turn from them to her brother, Nate, who has been begging her to join him at Mortmain’s side? Where will her loyalties—and love—lie? Tessa alone can choose to save the Shadowhunters of London…or end them forever.

To put everything up front, I didn’t really want to read any more Cassandra Clare ever, but things ended up this way because of reasons I’m not at liberty to disclose. If you have an issue with that, please leave this review and go rant privately to someone else. Any trolling comments left on this review will be screencapped and then deleted, so just don’t go there.

Now, much as I’m not a fan of what Cassandra Clare stands for, like endless cash cow milking, I’m not going to lie and say this wasn’t entertaining in its way. Even back before I knew anything about Clare, I liked her books the same way I liked eating as much Halloween candy in one sitting as possible. It was fun at the time, but, even then, I knew it wasn’t good for me. So there’s that. They’re entertaining and they do make you want to keep going to see how such a hot mess will resolve itself.

From a plot perspective, Clockwork Prince moves quite slowly. There’s really not that much development in this installment. There’s a lot of traveling and fruitless research into the big bad, but very little actually gets done. Even when they learn about what should be a shocking, heartbreaking betrayal, it’s met with a shrug. View Spoiler » The heart of this series is the central three and their love triangle. There’s really no call to read these if your main interest is not that, as it will only be frustrating.

Similarly, the writing is quite meh, running through just about every possible cliché. In general, I found the writing repetitive. Everything is “vexing” and I need to have descriptions of how attractive the characters are at every single turn. Basically, if you were to grab all the historical romance conventions and use the most stereotypical writing possible, I feel like this is the book that would fall out.

Speaking of clichés, I’ve been thinking a lot about heroines who love to read lately. While I do like a bookish heroine, I’m getting a bit sick of the otherwise not all that bright heroine bandying about references to every classic under the sun. It’s such a shallow way with which to connect with the audience, who obviously enjoys reading. And OF COURSE Will also loves to read the same things. What really pushed the literary references into pretension for me were the epigraphs before every chapter. I found myself rolling my eyes every time.

Aside from her love of reading, I really don’t have much of a read (teehee) on Tessa. She’s just not all that interesting to me, and doesn’t feel like a real person at all. For one thing, I thought Tessa was rather inconsistently characterized. Overall, I’m meant to see her as a strong heroine. She’s training to be physically able to defend herself and she’s strong-willed. Then she’ll say something so incredibly sexist that I want to scream at the fact that she’s a role model to so many people. Though I listened to the audio, I managed to find the quote:

“Very well,” said Tessa. “Imagine that does happen. You say Nate loves you. Then, he would forgive you anything, wouldn’t he? Because when a man loves a woman, he understands that she is weak. That she cannot hold out against, for instance, torture, in the manner in which he could.”
Jessamine made a whimpering sound.
“He understands that she is frail and delicate and easily led,” Tessa went on, and gently touched Jessamine’s arm.

Now, perhaps this isn’t what Tessa truly believes and she’s just trying to get Jessamine to loosen her lips about Nate’s plans. If there had been a scene leading up to it where she planned that strategy or following where she laughed at how stupid that idea was, then cool. Without that, I have to assume that THIS is what Tessa thinks about womankind. While it might be historically accurate for her to think that way, I find the conceit offensive. Besides, it’s steampunk, so why not add backbone to the women while adding technology to the past?

Perhaps even more problematic from a characterization perspective is the lack of agency in Tessa and the rest. Clare writes in such a way that Tess and the others often come across as helpless. The writing is passive and I lost count of how many times Tessa “couldn’t help” doing something or other with Jem or with Will. Using a phrase like that really kills the romance in any scene, because that’s compulsion, not love. She’s not choosing to kiss them or stare at them or whatever; she’s as mindless as a puppet on a string. Characters make decisions; cardboard cutouts do what the plot compels them to.

Moving into the meat of the book, let’s talk about the love triangle. I actually do think that this love triangle has a nice foundation, in that both Will and Jem are convincing and shippable in different ways. Tessa likes both of them for different reasons and has chemistry with both. The problem, quite an insurmountable one for me as a reader, is that I’m meant to believe she loves both equally, when I don’t buy that. Frankly, since she doesn’t actually CHOOSE much when it comes to either one, instead following along with what she couldn’t help doing, I’m not convinced she’s really into either. She does finally make a choice at the end, after only a little bit of infidelity, which she simply couldn’t help, so I’m somewhat impressed at that. Oh, also, how lame is Will’s reason for being an asshole? I laughed a lot.

Actually, I got the most joy in this book from the secondary characters, which I remember being the case with Clare’s other series as well. Magnus is fantastic and hilarious pretty much all the time. Sophie and Gideon are a cute ship. My favorites though are Charlotte and Henry, who have a “Do You Love Me?” moment that just killed me with adorable. If only I found the leads so compelling.

The audio performance I’m of two minds about, mostly because I really liked one narrator and really didn’t like the other. Ed Westwick’s a great fit for the series, with all the swagger one imagines from Will, and he does growl out Will’s dialogue perfectly. He’s not great at cross-gender narration, but he’s not horrible enough that having a second narrator seems entirely necessary. He and Heather Lind trade off when the third person limited narration switches from male to female. While this is a good idea in theory, it’s not necessary with third person narration, and Lind’s narration is just so much worse than Westwick’s imo. She mispronounces a few words, like “hurriedly” and “empire,” and her voice for Jem sounds exactly like Julie Andrews’ Queen of Genovia; you can imagine what this does to sexy scenes from Tessa’s point of view. From a production standpoint, they should have made the narrators be more consistent with accents for the different characters. They each have their own voices, but they don’t necessarily match how the other person is reading that particular character.

Tl;dr – Book in a GIFfy:

facepalm

And, for laughs, I’ve also got something a bit unusual with which to conclude my review today. For context, see Cassandra Clare’s Very Secret Diary of Aragorn.

The Very Secret Journal of Tessa Gray

Day One:
Automatons encountered: 2.
Flirted with Will and Jem. Read forty books.
Still a virgin.

Day Five:
Transformations: 1, into old man. Lame!
Forced to go on an adventure with Jem and Will. Will vexed me exceedingly.
Still no sex.

Day Ten:
Automatons destroyed: 1.
Will’s eyes update: Blue like the ocean.
Jem’s hair update: Silver like a spoon.
Still a virgin. Close, though. With both!

Day Twelve:
Transformations: 1. Into Jessamine. She’s just as annoying from the inside.
Will’s eyes update: Blue like deep pools.
Jem’s hair update: Silver like memories in a pensieve.
Almost made out with brother. Still virgin, because there is a line.

Day Fifteen:
Transformations: 1, Jessamine.
Brother almost kissed me today. AGAIN. Blech.
Still virgin.

Day 20:
Will’s eyes update: Blue like an icy lake.
Jem’s hair update: Silver like a silver thing.
Will suddenly being pleasant. This is even more vexing.
Sophie may also be hotter than me. Gideon likes her, not me.
Maybe because I look so virginal?

Day 22:
Beginning to feel attraction to the Lightwoods. Demon pox somewhat off-putting though.
Still a virgin.

Day 24:
Will’s eyes update: Still blue.
Jem’s hair update: Purple. No, just kidding. Still silver.
Released breath that I realized I’d been holding.
Engaged! Will tell you who later! Sex sure to come soon!

Day 25:
Will’s eyes update: Even deeper blue.
Jem’s hair update: A less shiny silver.
Want other boy, but can’t have him. The grass is always bluer, as they say.
Still virgin, because I cannot decide betwixt them.

12 responses to “Audiobook Review: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare”

  1. Meg says:

    Oh, also, how lame is Will’s reason for being an asshole? I laughed a lot. <— YES. I was like '…..wait, really? That's it? That's not like, the prequel to the real reason? That's what we're going with?'

    Reading these books is such a strange experience, I know things are wrong, but I'm hooked and have to keep reading.
    Meg recently posted…Best Series Blog HopMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I know. This one was not impressive, but also Chuck Bass. And the last one was kinda good and I don’t know how to feel about that.

      I LAUGHED SO MUCH AT THE REASON. SO SO FUNNY. MEANT TO BE SO INTENSE. WHICH MAKES IT FUNNIER. #LAWLKWARD

  2. tonyalee says:

    I was surprised when I saw this post on my feed this morning. I had to double check the name haha

    Anyway.

    I listened to Clockwork Princess on Audio and it had only one narrator. I wonder why they nixed the other?

    I didn’t like this series as much as TMI (Honestly, one of those series that shows your growth as a reader) But I loved the whole DEVICES thing. Still. I am over these damn Shadow Hunters. For real.

    • Christina Franke says:

      Ha, yeah. I had to read this because reasons. There was a single narrator (Jennifer Ehle) on the first, and a single on the third, but this had two. It really should have ALL been Chuck Bass. The girl was unnecessary.

      I liked this series way better than TMI. No possible incest plot line should last longer than it would take to get a blood test. Also, why possible incest plot line?

  3. Lesley says:

    I don’t think you said a single thing I disagree with here – except for the audiobook specific stuff, but I read the paper copy so I just don’t have my own opinion about those things.

    I’ve been thinking about the whole bookish-heroine thing recently, it seems to be in every other book I read and honestly, it just feels lazy to me. The reader obviously likes books, the writer obviously likes books, and you can use quotes from other books to express things without having to come up with something yourself. Maybe that’s a little harsh, but I’ve been seeing this happen so much lately and it’s starting to grate on me. I think I want to read a book about a girl who’s never read a book in her life. I’d write it myself, but I don’t know if I could!

    Out of curiosity, are you planning to read the final one in the series? And the final Mortal Instruments?
    Lesley recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday (3)My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      You can just take my word for the audiobook stuff, especially Jem sounding like the Queen of Genovia.

      I mean, I like a bookish heroine, obviously, but you can’t just TELL me they’re bookish and not have them reading or gushing about books. Epigraphs do not cut it. Discussing one or two books through the course of the series does not cut it. I need to be shown bookishness, not just told it.

      I already read the final one in the series, and the review might go up this week, since I’ve been fabulously unproductive. I will NOT be reading the other Mortal Instrument books (I think I read four of them).

  4. Anya says:

    This!! I listened to all three of these on audio and it was my first experience with Clarke since I didn’t read TMI (and now don’t really plan to). I had a big issue with the constantly changing narrators throughout the trilogy since it wasn’t consistent between books and I liked the first one the best I think :(. There were times when I was banging my head against the back of the seat listening to this trilogy, sigh.
    Anya recently posted…Best Series Blog Hop (INT)My Profile

  5. Bonnie says:

    So I don’t know how it happened but I loved this trilogy. Loved it. And I’m still unsure as to WHY because I usually hate everything about these books. I think my brain took a vacay and I should re-read for accuracy.

    bahahahaa The Very Secret Journal of Tessa Gray. The best thing ever.
    Bonnie recently posted…Something To Look Forward To – Week of March 31st, 2014My Profile

  6. Thanks for your review and I gave up on this series for the reasons you mentioned about milking the cow, and as a reader , she hasn’t written anything outside of this world 🙁 . I agree with all your thoughts on this book 🙂 thanks
    julie@my5monkeys recently posted…The mortal instruments movie reviewMy Profile

  7. So…your account of Tessa’s very secret diary is possibly the best thing ever. I read Cassie’s secret diaries of the LotR characters back in the day and enjoyed them. But this is much, much better because you can expand on the melodrama that’s true and actually present in this story. And I also kind of hate Tessa for stringing along Will and Jem like that, so I enjoy any opportunity to call her out on that.
    I agree with most of what you said. I didn’t believe in the “equality” of the love triangle, though, so that did make it difficult for me to appreciate a lot of the story.
    I did read all of this trilogy by Clare, but I think I’m done with her works now. As you said, at times it’s entertaining at times, but there are so many better series out there.
    Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books recently posted…Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott LynchMy Profile

  8. Gillian says:

    “her voice for Jem sounds exactly like Julie Andrews’ Queen of Genovia; you can imagine what this does to sexy scenes from Tessa’s point of view”

    I had all these things to say and then I reached that point and laughed so hard I forgot everything because OMFG HAHAHAHAHA NARRATION FAIL
    Gillian recently posted…Best Series Blog Hop and GiveawayMy Profile

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