“Sometimes the only choice is between acceptance and madness.”
_ Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel
“Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.”
― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel
I thought Clockwork Angel was excellent and as much as I didn't want to compare it to the The Mortal Instruments . . .I did.
But, let's answer the banner question : Do I need to read The Mortal Instruments to understand Clockwork Angel ? No. In fact, unless you just want to read them, I would skip TMI. You just can't have the "Hey! It the thing/person/place from the thing !" moments. Don't worry, in my opinion it's a fair trade.
Clockwork Angel is a pseudo-Steampunk novel about London Shadowhunters (demon hunters, essentially) in the late 19th century. Now, I say pseudo-Steampunk because I believe it is missing some of the key elements of the genre. The Steampunk generally involves alternate histories and some kind of 'rage against the machine' type rebellion.
I listened to the first part of this novel on audiobook and it was amazing. The narrator creates these emotional subtleties with her voice that are incredible. I suggest going to the library or signing up for the Audible free trial. Worth it. The only hitch is when she randomly gives a side character a lisp.
Unlike TMI, Clockwork Angel uses a linear storytelling device, similar to that of a a gumshoe mystery in it's plotting. It felt like this is book of conversation and thought instead of focusing on action and entertainment.
The main characters are thoughtful and introspective on top of the snark and jokes. I have a sense ( I could be wrong) that this is why Clockwork Angel appears less popular. It isn't about fast quips and adventure like The Mortal Instruments. While parts were incredibly predictable there are some sections that are just wonderful.
(Warning : Discussion involving The Moral Intrsuments Trilogy no spoliers )
Like most authors, Clare recycles tropes and character personalities from her previous work. Will is a Jace lite and I think Jem is similar to Alec, but the Londoners are more believable to me. Jem and Will act more like parabati then Alec or Jace did. I think Jace is a jerk becuase he can't help it, Will is jerk because he is trying to hide soemthing. Jem doesn't exactly leap of the page, but he has this one line that I think could have saved TMI about 1,000 pages :
"Certainly it would be wonderful if we all knew exactly who we were. But, that knowledge does not come from outside, but from inside. 'Know thyself,' as the oracle says."
I feel more symapthy for Tessa than for Clary-- I find Tessa more clever and less bland. . .The most interesting character to me is Jessamine, she offers a side of Shadowhunting not seen before. She gets into whether or not the Shadowhunters have a choice and what happens if they choose not to fight.
My only complaint is this book can be predictable especially if you have read TMI. I mean I can jest at it a bit because everyone has a sob story, Will has a door leaning problem and I found the constant epigraphs tiresome and a little spoilery because I thought on them to much.
Either way . . .
*Gathers loose change to buy Clockwork Prince*