For someone who likes to praise The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare a lot, I don’t have a review for any of its books up on my blog. So, I decided to write a series review, where I’m going to provide my thoughts about this series as a whole.
*I’ll be keeping this as spoiler free as possible, with all major and specific spoilers being hidden with the customary red <spoiler> </spoiler>. I recommend not reading this review if you don’t know some basic things about the trilogy, such as the basics about the love story. I’ll provide another warning when things get more spoiler-y.
Titles: Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess
by Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA Fantasy – Paranormal
Pages: Clockwork Angel: 479, Clockwork Prince: 502, Clockwork Princess: 567
Published: August 31, 2010 – March 19, 2013
I went into reading The Infernal Devices trilogy for the first time right after reading The Mortal Instruments in 2013 – and while I wasn’t a huge fan of TMI, I remember really, really disliking The Infernal Devices. I thought it was just really dry and boring, and that the characters were really two dimensional. I read the first book, and then quickly skimmed through Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess.
Fast forward to January 2016, and I still disliked The Mortal Instruments – but for whatever reason (probably due to a Tumblr edit), I decided to give The Infernal Devices another chance. And this time, I fell in love. I fell in love with the characters, the friendships, the storyline, and the writing. I’m so glad I gave this trilogy a second chance, because while I may still dislike TMI and may not be the biggest fan of Cassandra Clare as a person, this trilogy is just so beautifully crafted and now one of my favorites.
Cassandra Clare’s writing improved so drastically from The Mortal Instruments to The Infernal Devices – I was genuinely amazed. While Clockwork Angel was a bit slow-paced, almost to the point of being more boring, compared to Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess, in general, the writing in this trilogy was lyrical, descriptive, and absolutely beautiful.
This trilogy and its characters could be so completely relatable, despite the fact that they’re shadowhunters and co. and living in the 1800s. For example, Tessa and Will love books above almost all else:
“It was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone. They could be honest with me, and I with them.” – Clockwork Prince.
That quote is a classic amongst book lovers for a reason. And some of the quotes in this trilogy are so genuinely moving and powerful, oh my God. They’re the kind that will genuinely stick with you.
“Pointless, needless suffering and pain? I don’t suppose it would help if I told you that is the way life is. The good suffer, the evil flourish, and all that is mortal passes away.” – Clockwork Princess.
The characters are, besides the friendships, the most important part of this trilogy. Tessa, Jem, Will, Jessamine, Charlotte, Henry, Cecily, Gabriel, Gideon, Sophie – all of them. They’re all so beautifully written and so vibrant, and such wonderful characters to read about. They’re so complex and three-dimensional in a way that I completely missed the first time I read this trilogy.
Tessa was a wonderful protagonist to read about – I found myself loving her more and more and rooting for her more as this trilogy went on. She isn’t physically badass like Izzy from TMI (or even Clary, at times), but she’s so smart, and powerful in her own way. Her powers and her journey were so incredible to read about, and I never found myself annoyed and fed up with her the way I would be with Clary from TMI.
Jem and Will are just as beautifully written and developed. I don’t want to get too much into it because then we’ll be stuck here in this character review forever, but they’re not simple and easy to understand. Will isn’t just Jace 2.0, as I literally saw someone once call him – he’s such a complex characters with so many layers, and he can’t be easily pegged. Just like real people are.
Jem isn’t simple or boring, either, or Will’s counter-character – he’s another complex, three dimensional, beautifully written character. He has his flaws and his weaknesses, and he has the heart that we all love him for.
More importantly than Jem and Will as individuals, however, is Jem and Will as a friendship – as a unit. Jem and Will are brothers, in the absolute sense of the word – parabatai in every way. They are each other’s perfect balance, and each other’s best friend in the world. They trust no one more than they do each other, and have more fun with no one but the other.
“If Jem died, she could not help but feel, he would take all that was still human about Will with him when he went.” – Clockwork Prince.
Will needed Jem so, so much, as repeatedly proven throughout the trilogy – in the first half of this trilogy, Jem was even considered the only thing that could consistently make Will human.
“My conscience,” Will whispered. “You are my conscience. You have ever been, James Carstairs.” – Clockwork Princess.
And it wasn’t one sided whatsoever – it isn’t Jem just putting up with Will, and Will needing Jem in order to live. Jem loved and needed Will just as much – Will was a friend to him through everything, and would have done anything in the world for Jem, as he’s proven multiple times.
“Will, I trust you above all, and believe in you above all, knowing that as always your heart is twinned with mine in this matter. Wo men shi jie bai xiong di—we are more than brothers, Will.” – Clockwork Princess
And Tessa – Tessa loved the two of them with all of her heart, and not necessarily in the romantic sense. They worked together as a beautiful and functioning unit, and were an absolute trio. By the end of the trilogy, none of them wanted to be apart from the other.
“Whether Will wanted her there or not—or Jem either—she could not watch the two of them walk into danger and not want to be where they were.” – Clockwork Princess.
If you’ve read The Mortal Instruments before reading The Infernal Devices, which isn’t necessary, you’ll also recognize a few characters – i.e., Magnus (!!!) who I loved being able to see. Magnus throughout this trilogy really helped me, as a reader, to better understand his character as presented in TMI.
I’m going to try to keep this section completely spoiler free, so I may have to be vague.
The plot of this trilogy is really fascinating. We start with Tessa struggling to understand and master her powers, which she’s being forced to do while in captivity. The powers that she has really aren’t any that I’ve read about before in fantasy, which I really appreciated.
We then move on to the the grand scheme of things, in which Tessa is involved, and begin learning about a clockwork army – which is infinitely scarier than it sounds. Some of the things that happened throughout this trilogy genuinely freaked me out, as I can’t imagine myself going through any of them. The struggles and crises of this plot didn’t seem generic, as they were in TMI, but were completely ingenious.
When we were first introduced to who the true antagonist (villain) of this series would be, I was honestly caught by surprise – I thought that Cassandra Clare wrote this minor twist so perfectly. And that’s something else that I really enjoyed – The Infernal Devices is filled with twists and turns that are completely reasonable, and things that I, as a reader, felt that I should have seen coming. I really enjoyed that, though, as I was kept on my toes throughout this entire trilogy.
This section discusses the love story in this trilogy, so if you don’t know anything about it, I would recommend skipping this entire section of the review.
The Love Storyline
Going into my re-read of this trilogy, I remembered the general love story, but not the specifics – and I’m really glad I didn’t remember most of the specifics about this love story, because it was honestly not the way I thought things would go at all.
I was expecting a traditional, generic love triangle, and that’s not what I got at all.
Instead of Tessa being forced to choose one of them and Will and Jem having their friendship torn apart forever, Tessa was able to acknowledge the fact that she loved them both – that she had two great loves instead of just one. And Will and Jem didn’t resent that whatsoever – the love that the three of them have for each other is the most important aspect of this trilogy.
“Could you really love two different people at once? Could you split your heart in half?” – Clockwork Prince.
The love that Tessa had for both Jem and Will could have easily not made any sense at all, along with the way Jem and Will handled it – but in this particular scenario, with all three of them loving each other so much and so purely, it worked so well.
I honestly wouldn’t have expected this to be the way things turned out at all, but I am so content with the way the love story ended.
<spoiler> I was devastated when Jem had to leave Will and Tessa – absolutely devastated, but I loved the fact that Tessa was able to spend her life with both Will and Jem, with her love for each of them them not dimming the love she had for the other. I’m a firm believer of the fact that everyone can fall in love more than once in their life, so I loved that Tessa was able to spend her life with her two great loves. </spoiler>
Slight spoilers (? more like hints at what happens), read at your own discretion!
I thought that this trilogy ended perfectly, and I really couldn’t ask for anything more.
I honestly cried really hard during Clockwork Princess, which isn’t something that I expected to happen. I just felt so attached to the characters at the end of it all, so it was nearly unbearable to read about the things that Tessa, Will, and Jem go through.
The most unbearable thing to read about was when Will and Jem had to be separated – in both senses. My heart absolutely shattered at the pain that these brothers had to go through while apart from each other.
However, I can’t imagine things having ended in any other way. It may have not been what I expected, but it was exactly what I needed for the conclusion of this trilogy.
Clockwork Angel: ★★★★☆
In the end, what I remember and cherish most about this trilogy is the friendships – Cassandra Clare wrote them so beautifully, and thinking about how much Jem and Will loved each other and how much they loved Tessa and Tessa loved them is enough to bring tears to my eyes.
I would really recommend this trilogy to anyone who has a soft spot for beautifully written platonic love, amazing writing, memorable characters, and a gripping storyline. Even if you disliked The Mortal Instruments, please consider giving The Infernal Devices a shot.
“… Because in the end, this was never the great love story of Tessa and Will (though they have a great love) or Tessa and Jem (though they have a great love) or even Will and Jem (though they have a great love), but the love of Tessa, will and Jem. The three of them. They are and will always be, a triad.” – Cassandra Clare.