Audiobook Review: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Audiobook Review: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra ClareClockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Narrator: Daniel Sharman
Length: 16 hrs, 24 mins
Series: The Infernal Devices #3
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on March 19, 2013
Genres: Historical, Paranormal, Romance, Steampunk
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

My feelings about this series are all a jumble. There’s so much that I hate about them, and, yet, I cannot bring myself to fully loathe them, the way that I expected to feel. The series contains subpar, hackneyed writing and minimal plot. The romance is overwrought and often wholly absurd, yet Cassandra Clare does manage to make you want to keep reading, in spite of yourself, and to create secondary characters who are incredibly fascinating and perhaps better built than the main characters.

Though I don’t remember Clockwork Angel particularly well, I’m fairly certain that Clockwork Princess is actually the best in the series, so far as that goes. Sure, the evil sentence pops up at least twice, but what else is to be expected from writing that hits at every single YA romance cliché. This one was better for me due to the increase in focus on the secondary characters. The story focuses almost as much on Charlotte and Henry, Gideon and Sophie, and Cecily and Gabriel as it does on Tessa, Jem and Will.

On the one hand, I love all six of those secondary characters, any of whom I would much rather have focused on than the main three. Cecily in particular is a delight; Will’s younger sister has all of her stubbornness but with a whole lot more honesty. I actually ship all of these romances, and was somewhat happy to see them come to fruition. At the same time, though, my main issue with Clockwork Princess is that Clare’s sort of a reverse of Joss Whedon: if you’re part of a happy couple, then you’re safe from harm.

In the whole of the book, there’s only one relatively important character to die, and that results in no emotional payoff, since no one actually liked this person. View Spoiler » Much as I love romance, in a series purporting to be a dark, action-packed fantasy, for there to be no heartrending deaths and for every character to pair off neatly is far-fetched. Also, there were two pretend deaths, a trope I hate more than anything. Twice, Clare makes you think that a character’s dead and then you find out they were saved thanks to magical healing. Riiiiight.

Let’s also put the resolution of the fantasy plot in the way too convenient category. The Infernal Devices is a ROMANCE series. Now, I love romance, but I don’t like when a book or series is all about romance and is set in a fantasy or science fiction landscape, because the plot and the world building never get the development they deserve. The big bad of the series, Mortmain, is defeated with several chapters to go. The way his defeat occurs almost could not be any more anticlimactic, which is not generally the way a reader should feel at such a time. Of course, this could have something to do with the lack of body count.

Anyway, I’m fairly certain everyone who cares knows the spoiler by now, so I’m not going to be spoiler-tagging anything about the romance’s conclusion. Deal with it.

Jem has been dying for years of his addiction to a poison, and there’s no cure. He didn’t want anyone to look for a cure either, because he didn’t want to have false hope. What I don’t understand is why anyone listened to the young kid saying he would prefer just to die. He doesn’t have to know that you’re looking! Plus, by the time they finally do take the only possible path that has ever been mentioned as a treatment for Jem, it’s a million times harder because he’s so much sicker, weaker and more addicted than he would have been had he been made into a silent brother younger. But then, of course, he wouldn’t have been available to fall in love with Tessa and have a love triangle with his parabatai.

Speaking of parabatai, I actually do think this is an interesting concept, and it brings me to another thing I really enjoy about this series. The Infernal Devices centers on a group of people from different families who come together and choose to make a new one, based not on blood, but interests, love, and support. That’s my favorite sort of family situation to read about, and it generally gives me all of the feels. Jem and Will’s relationship is largely quite sweet. They both care for one another in different ways, and I do buy into the affection between them, if not their calm acceptance of both being in love with Tessa who claims to love them both equally.

Now, prepared though I was to think the ending was a total cop-out, I do actually agree a bit with the argument that Tessa having to watch everyone she loves die is pretty harsh. Being immortal has it’s downside if you don’t love other immortals. One thing I wonder is why her aging stopped where it did? Are immortals programmed to stop aging at a certain physical age? O_o Back on track, I still maintain it would have been a lot more envelope-pushing if Tessa, Will and Jem were so cool with her love of both that they all lived together in a happy threesome, because the boys are both so okay with it after all.

Anyway, I actually do see the appeal of both Will and Jem for Tessa, and can totally imagine her being in love with both guys. That’s not my issue. What I cannot believe is that she loves them both equally, which is said multiple times. It’s not that I don’t think people can love more than one person; I do. However, if they’re both there at the same time, there’s going to be one of them that you love more, because that’s how it goes, unless they’re willing to work out some sort of sharing scenario. In fact, I’m positive that for Tessa, Will always came first. Had she not already accepted Jem’s proposal and were he not dying, she would have gone for Will, no matter his feelings. Even having accepted Jem, if she could have called it off without Will no longer wanting her because she hurt Jem, she would have done that. She loves Jem, but it’s quieter and less passionate and they have much less in common. So, yeah, I do not see that. In my opinion, Tessa’s lying to herself to explain why she kept making out with both boys when she knew she shouldn’t. Make of that what you will. Of course, I know everyone will have a different opinion on this, which is fine, since it’s a subjective matter and I certainly don’t have the most romantic experience.

Now, let’s talk about the audiobook. I only listened to the last two books in the series, but I do know that all three audiobooks were done by different narrators. The first one by Jennifer Ehle (Elizabeth Bennet), then Ed Westwick (Chuck Bass) and Heather Lind, and finally, in Clockwork Princess, Daniel Sharman (who Google tells me is in Teen Wolf). While they clearly spent money making the audio versions of this series, I really hate when a series doesn’t have the same narrator throughout. The reason why is evident, just having listened to two of them. Daniel Sharman does, I think, the best job of the three narrators I heard, but no effort was made to make his reading consistent at all with that of Ed Westwick and Heather Lind. Most jarringly different is Will, who now has a Welsh accent. This is a delightful change, but jarring and a bit confusing for the listener. This is not Sharman’s fault, but production’s.

Now that I’m done, I have this to say: this series is often cheesy and repetitive, but also oddly compelling.

Tl;dr – Book in a GIFfy:

You just keep telling yourself that.

You just keep telling yourself that.

3 responses to “Audiobook Review: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare”

  1. I agree with you, actually I think all readers would, the only one who doesn’t is Cassandra Clare… To anyone who bothered reading the books it was obvious Will was always her #1 and Jem only became her #2 because Will kept pushing her away and when he was finally available she was already committed to Jem. All the reviews I’ve read have mentioned that her love was not equal between the boys.

    Great review!
    Nyx @ Unraveling Words recently posted…March in BooksMy Profile

  2. This is kind of irrelevant to your review but I’m always SO confused when it comes to whole “immortal” thing. Technically, if you’re immortal, wouldn’t you just age really slowly and then once you get to your prime age (which I assume is like your forties) you just stop aging? But literally Tessa ages normally to sixteen and then just stops. I think that’s so weird, and I’ve never been able to actually understand the logic.

    But I can definitely see why you gave this one three stars. Clockwork Princess is definitely a mostly romance-centric novel, and it can kind of take away from it overall. However, I agree about the whole parabatai concept. The sense of family in the book was really strong, which I appreciated because it was a different kind of concept. Fantastic review, Christina! <33
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  3. Bonnie says:

    I completely agree. Tessa loving each equally was nonsense because clearly she picked Jem over Will so there’s more feelings going on there. Having it end up the way it did just felt like Clare was simply trying to please both ‘teams’.

    Having different narrators for different books in a series is BOTHERSOME. Thankfully I read the first two books and listened to this one so I can’t complain. I thought Daniel Sharman did a fab job.
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