This is not what I was expecting. I was expecting more of the same from Clockwork Angel: find and chase the hastily identified bad guy, figure out what-the-hell-manner-of-life is Tessa, perhaps see some other downworlders get their asses beat in spectacular fashion. Not only did none of the above happen, but I loved this book just the same as if I got everything I wanted out of it and then some.
Plausibility for events of Clockwork Prince (a great misleading title with so much unfulfilled potential) is right where we left it in the previous book; which hadn't progress too far since it began. I thought this book would develop the erstwhile evil genius, give him character and personality. While we did get motive he never developed enough to become either sympathetic or convincing as a threat. To this end, I'm not sure if it's good or bad that seemingly no time was dedicated to bringing him down. While main story or 'series arc' events seemed to stagnate the remaining cast took part in many little 'side quest' that not only propelled events forward but even managed to upstage the climax that never was.
Charlotte and Henry, leaders of the London Institute of Shadowhunters, are given two weeks to track down the man responsible for the recent uprising against Shadowhunters. Despite the clock ticking and this built-in mechanism for tension and forward drive events move rather leisurely. This isn't a bad thing, only more of a surprise. A plan is devised; nothing comes to fruition and instead of a book about Shadowhunters hunting we get a book in which we learn about Shadowhunters. Stranger still the book didn't feel like five-hundred pages of exposition.
There are some major revelations. There's a reason why Will is an ass. It's a really, really good reason and I've no clue as to why readers couldn't be let in on this secret in the first book. As we learn of Will's past it becomes very easy to like him. He's endearing, and sympathetic and his position becomes very easy to understand whereas in the first book he was a jerk without reason, stiff, and shallow.
The strongest development was all the romantic involvement between characters. It worked on every level, and the main reason why was that everything felt organic: the attraction; the tension; and the setup. Things get rather hot and heavy considering this is 19th century England but it seems Shadowhunters are excused much in terms of propriety.
Clare does the romantic tension wonderfully well but the super saccharine, overly sentimental resolution of these affairs is close to stomach turning. Two character reaffirmed their love for one another and I had to listen to the death metal band "SKULLCRUSH" to balance out what I was reading and not lose my lunch. Then there is a proposal scene between two others and "OMG!" Who snuck that mess in past the editor's final approval? Those two moments aside, the romantic conflict is excellently done and it could be argued it's the heart of the book.
My two complaints from Clockwork Angel come prepackaged. I was hoping for a new Shadowhunter power to be unveiled: that Will would kill some downworlders or clockwork baddies merely by his opponent noticing just how blue his eyes were, not being able to handle said blueness, and then exploding into a blinding shower of blood and nastiness. Or at least someone should have had an aneurysm when coming to terms with just how absurdly silky his hair is. Because I couldn't handle his hair; poor Tessa had multiple existentialist crises in coming to terms with Will's hair. Then there is the eyes and hair combo... BOOM! The bad guys never stood a chance. And Jem was so fragile and delicate that his fragile delicateness made me turn the pages with unconscious tenderness that I've never before expressed while reading as I was fearful of damaging a fragile and delicate page on which Jem's name was written. The repetition from the first book carries over and Clare launches far past cloying and achieves straight up nauseating. In fact, I believe that in the audio book version Will and Jem (happily, the repetition of all things are limited to them) have leit-motives accompanying every mention of their name as composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Enough of this gripe: Clockwork Prince will never be a movie because no two people exist that are beautiful enough to play Will or Jem. Oh, and just like Clockwork Angel, neither one acts seventeen; they are still far closer to forty though the bumbling through the romantic aspects helped show them to be more adolescent than adult.
The two weeks go by and while there is no progress made toward the primary stated objective (no progress at all) the character development is so strong, convincing, and enjoyable that it's easy to get wrapped up in what is given as opposed to thinking about what was expected.
There is no middle-book-boring-to-def syndrome going on here. Color me surprised; but I loved this from start to finish.