Review: Clockwork Prince

December 7th, 2011 marked the release of one of my most anticipated follow up books of the year, Clockwork Prince, the second book in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series.  December 7th was also the day that Cassandra Clare was reading and signing at the Columbus Circle Barnes and Noble.

Here’s Cassandra Clare and Ed Westwick saying hello to the crowd.

Not being up to date on my CW teen dramas, I had no idea who Ed Westwick was. Those of you much hipper than I will recognize him from the Gossip Girl series. He is also the narrator of the audiobook versions of Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince.

After all the squealing died down and Cassandra Clare was left alone on stage (and by the way, isn’t she awesome?) she read a passage from the book and took a series of audience questions.  Then there was the endless line of people waiting to get things signed. I love seeing so many bookish people gathering together at once, it makes me feel good about the world.

And she signed ALL the things.  Authors must have special endurance to be able to sign their names repeatedly for hours, perhaps publishers and publicists provide autograph stamina training.

So the Barnes & Noble event was fun, but what about the book, right?

The book did not disappoint. Whereas the first installment in the series was very much plot driven and focused on all the steampunky goodness of this version of Victorian England, Clockwork Prince is much more character driven. We learn a great deal about character backgrounds and motivations. Tessa, of course, is still struggling to decide who is a better match, Will or Jem. While I generally don’t like triangles, this one makes sense. Tessa, being a product of the Victorian era is not enough an individual to choose neither and so she is left with having to decide between her brain and her heart.

I love the way Clare makes the setting seem like another character. The details given to describe the various locales serve only to bolster the mood and drive the plot and are never distracting or tedious. It would have been great to have seen more of the steampunk creatures back for book 2, but it also would not have fit the story. We do get to see many of the contraptions including awesome mechanical spy spiders. Readers are also given a sneak peek of the underbelly of this alternate London and are introduced to a menagerie of evil creatures. Having not yet read any of The Mortal Instruments series (I know, I know, they’re on my list for 2012!) I’m not sure if these characters will already be familiar to readers, but I enjoyed seeing just how devilish this world is.

There are some unexpected twists and turns, though I guessed early on who the “mole” was, the reveal was still delicious.  Learning more of Will’s back story made me like him more and I especially enjoyed the bits about how he and Jem came to be so close. Finally, Clockwork Prince ends well, if not happily, leaving most ends tied up but enough loose to make us crave book three, Clockwork Princess.  Well played, Ms. Clare!