I'm having a hard time deciding what exactly I thought about this book. I enjoyed reading it -- read it in one day -- but somehow the story left something to be desired. Many of the characters were intriguing. Some were likeable, others not so much.
I didn't care much for Will...I wanted to, but an author can only push the limits so far on annoying/off-putting/infuriating qualities before the reader stops caring. Clare had almost gotten me to the point of caring about him, but then, what happens at the end when he callously discusses "arrangements" with Tessa...that was just too much.
I don't know if we'll learn in the rest of the series what happened in his past to make him the way he is, but even the darkest pasts can only excuse so much in the reader's view. If you had a character who was a serial killer, and then reveal that he became a serial killer because of some tragedy in his past, that still doesn't make him an admirable or likeable character, you know?
My other problem was Tessa. I just never could get attached to her character. We get snatches of her past, but there isn't enough depth there for us to really understand her now. We may know what her biggest motivation is...but we don't learn nearly enough about her family relationships until much too late in the book. She comes across kind of like one of those clockwork automatons. She has one single-minded purpose, and we hardly ever see any real reaction from her to the events that happen. The most we ever see of her personality is concerning boys...and even then, all we ever really get is a slight feeling of disappointment, or a physical reaction. Maybe once or twice she entertains the question of whether or not she should care about someone...then quickly dismisses it. We never actually see how or why she moves from fearful mistrust of the Shadowhunters to trust -- or rather, she only seems to start trusting(?) them when she discovers she can use them
much the same way she fears they will use her
. Another emotional response I don't get is when she learns the truth about her brother...shouldn't her reaction be a lot stronger than it is?!?
I did love Jem's character. He was wonderfully drawn, and I cared about him from almost the first moment. Henry was great, too. I wanted to like Charlotte, but I could never get a good read on her. I started out thinking she was maybe in her late 30's, but then all of a sudden, late in the story, we find out she's 23. Huh? Maybe it's all the times her face is described as "pinched" which is really a horrible depiction...ugly, not at all flattering. In fact, too many characters' faces are too often described that way. Made me think the whole story was populated by sickly, twisted, puckered-up faces. Yuck. I also had a slight problem with Clare constantly calling Jem and Will "boys". At that time, and especially
with the kind of responsibilities they had, they would be considered men
. Young men, maybe, but not boys.
The story itself was entertaining. I liked the steampunk/paranormal feel. And the plot twists were suitably surprising and well-thought-out. The feel of London very much reminded me of the time I spent there, so that was enjoyable. I was annoyed that we never learned what the clockwork angel was. For a book with that as the title, you'd think we'd have a bit more of a clue of its origin and purpose. Tessa's too, for that matter.
Overall, a fun read...I will probably finish the series because of the characters I did