This book is wonderfully executed. Gothic and suspenseful, with intriguing, unique characters, spot-on dialogue, and a not-so-straightforward plot with a couple of good twists. (Marred only slightly by the fact that the villain's reveal is a bit predictable). The language, dialogue, setting, and details of the Stranwyne estate is very appropriate for the time, which is more than I can say for several other historical YA fiction books I've read lately. Katharine is refreshingly unlikeable at the beginning of the story and undergoes a believable transformation. I love her uncle, who is one of the most interesting characters I've come across lately. And I also have to give Cameron a lot of credit for not flinching from the tragic yet appropriate ending. Cameron is a skillful writer.
This book is such a treat! It doesn't tread in particularly new or unique waters (there are quite a few books out there about people being able to see and/or communicate with the dead) but Rivers uses the trope well for her purposes. The writing is excellent and the mood well set. I'm most impressed by Rivers' ability to leave readers coming to their own conclusions without spelling everything out for them. Sarah as an interesting little girl, and all the characters are rather realistically drawn. I may have been a little disappointed by the conclusion, which seemed a bit anticlimactic, but at least it was a unique solution, and I appreciate that it wasn't what I expected.
An interesting twist on both zombies and Victoriana. Never expected such a thing to be set in the future! Imagine a society girl with a cell phone and carriages with video screens. The writing is fairly well done, though I admit sometimes there didn't seem to be much difference in the character voices (sort of important when you switch back and forth between them for each chapter). Habel also does a good job of explaining the history of her world and how it functions.
The writing in Clockwork Angel is technically proficient, the story premise is interesting, and plot is fairly well crafted. Beyond that, however, I was disappointed by the book as a whole.
The main character Tessa is essentially an empty vessel into which the reader can step; she lacks any real personality of her own. She has little agency, merely reacting to events around her and never acting on her own. Her only trait is that she's determined to find her brother, and the author does not sufficiently establish an emotional connection between them for the reader to care. In fact, there's no connection between the reader and Tessa, either. What was Tessa like before she came to England? What were her dreams, what were her fears? The author takes great pains to give us the impression that Tessa reads books, but how does that impact Tessa as a person? How does it influence how she behaves or what she says? None of that is incorporated into Tessa's behavioral make-up; instead, Clare only uses this to allow Tessa to make comparisons between the novels she reads and what's happening around her. The constant novel title mentions is the literary equivalent of celebrity name-dropping - really, Clare, you're trying too hard to impress your audience.
After ragdoll Tessa comes Will, the cheeky and witty love interest who is more often obnoxious than charming. His dialogue is tediously clever, as though every line is either a joke or its punchline. While characters like that can be a fun addition to a novel, Will is not developed deeply enough to make him anything other than a shallow pretty boy. The romance between him and Tessa develops out of nowhere and does not feel authentic.
Jessamine is perhaps the only one that had a spark of personality in her; she was the only one I was interested in learning more about. Quite frankly, I think her story [a girl determined to fulfill the typical Victorian role for a woman who is repeatedly thrust into this weird and dangerous other world) is the one that should have been told.
Too many characters all together in the book. Clare doesn't handle multi-character scenes well. Too much is going on and the writing becomes confusing.
And the information dumps! Pages and pages of people sitting around (or standing around) explaining things. I get that Clare wants the reader to understand the world she painstakingly created, but really. That's too much.
While the audience for this book seems to be very young writers (meaning middle school and high school), I found it was a very well done guide to writing. Quite accessible with fun writing exercises and good examples of each of the topics Levine writes about.