BOOK REVIEW: The Time Machine – by H.G. Wells

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Title: The Time Machine
Author: H.G. Wells
Genre: Classics, Science Fiction, Time Travel
First published: 1895
Finished reading: May 17th 2016
Pages: 104
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“We should strive to welcome change and challenges, because they are what help us grow. With out them we grow weak like the Eloi in comfort and security. We need to constantly be challenging ourselves in order to strengthen our character and increase our intelligence. ”

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I normally seem to be having a love/hate relationship when it comes to classics, but since I have been wanting to read The Time Machine for a while now and I needed more classics for a challenge I decided to give it a go anyway. This story set in the year 802.701 AD is without doubt a quick read and and has an interesting vision of the future, especially when you keep in mind the story was written in the 19th century. Still, I’m having mixed feelings about this time travel story. I felt the story was a bit too ‘communist’ to my taste. Why? It almost seemed like H.G. Wells was promoting communism by showing that the seemingly rich and priviledged Eloi are actually quite weak and the ‘lower’ Morlocks are more technically advanced because of the simple need to adapt to a complicated situation. The quote above shows this quite well… I’m not saying the political theme is necessarily a bad thing, but it wasn’t what I expected and I’m still not sure what to think of it. And I didn’t enjoy the descriptions of the part where he travels towards the final moments of the Earth as much as his first time travel adventure either. Still, I can’t deny the story in general reads fast and is quite entertaining if you can get past the political theme. The descriptions of this future are without doubt interesting!

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A Victorian scientist calls himself the Time Traveller as he tries to convince his friends that he was finally able to build a working time machine. They all seem a bit skeptic and don’t believe him, until the day that his time machine vanishes from sight. It seems like time travelling is indeed possible! He takes himself to the year 802.701 AD, and soon finds out life is completely different then. The Time Traveller has a hard time communicating with the inhabitants of this strange future, but he is happy to see that suffering has been replaced by beauty, contentment and peace. But soon enough he starts to discover that the Eloi people are not as advanced as they might seem and are in fact quite weak. The Eloi are afraid of the dark, and with reason, because beneath their paradise live the Morlocks hidden in the deep tunnels. They have evolved in order to survive under the complicated circumstances in the tunnel, and now hunt the very people that used to control them…

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While I liked the general descriptions of The Time Machine and it was interesting to read a vision of the future that was written over one hundred years ago, I still have mixed thoughts about this read. The main problem I had involves the political theme, which I thought distracted the attention from an otherwise entertaining sci-fi time travel story. I won’t be saying this classic is a must read, but it is an interesting enough read if you like these kind of stories and quite short as well.

BOOK REVIEW: Clockwork Princess – by Cassandra Clare

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Title: Clockwork Princess
(The Infernal Devices Trilogy #3)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA, Steampunk, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: March 19th 2013
Finished reading: January 5nd 2015
Pages: 576
Rating 4

“Life is a book and there are a thousand pages I have not yet read.”

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Since Cassandra Clare had ended Clockwork Prince with so many cliffhangers and I had a copy of the third book already waiting for my on my TBR pile, she left me with no other option than picking up Clockwork Princess straight away. I’m glad that I didn’t start reading The Infernal Devices trilogy when they were first published, because I don’t know if I could have waited so long for the last one to come out. That said, I  have to be honest and say that I was expecting a final novel with more action and less romance in it. I guess that’s why I ended up giving this third and final book a slightly lower rating than the first two; I loved all the other elements but the romance crossed the border of being too much for my taste. But then again, I detest cheesy romance and love triangles… Still, Cassandra Clare is able to dazzle readers with a quick pace, interesting setting/prose and likeable characters, and Clockwork Princess is without doubt worth reading.

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As with the review of Clockwork Prince, I will keep this summary short because I don’t want to spoil the fun for those who haven’t read the trilogy yet. Still, I strongly suggest not reading this summary unless you did, since it’s almost impossible to write a spoiler free summary of this third and final book.

Things slowly go back to normal after various members of the London Institute revealed some mayor news. New Shadowhunters have arrived at the Institute and have to be trained… And they have a wedding to prepare for. But Jem is still sick and his medicine is becoming scarce. Mortmain (The Magister) is buying up all the stock and using it to keep the werewolves running that are helping him build his automatons. He is after Tessa to help him get the final piece in the puzzle and make his clockwork army undefeatable and the perfect weapon to destroy the Shadowhunters… Mortmain tries to blackmail the members of the London Institute, saying he is willing to hand over his supply of Jem’s medicine to them under one condition: Tessa. When they refuse, the automatons come after her anyway… And soon she is in his hands and on her way to Mortmain’s hiding place. There she is forced to use her powers and reveals the secret that Mortmain needed to animate his clockwork army. They now hold demon souls and Shadowhunter weapons cannot destroy them… Will this be the end for Tessa and the Shadowhunters?

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While not as good as the first two novels, this third and final part of The Infernal Devices is still highly entertaining and without doubt worth reading. The rescue mission and hunt for Mortmain make you just want to keep on reading, and the fast pace and likeable characters made up for the slight overdose of romance. Plus, it has an interesting ending with a reference to the present situation… Recommended to those who enjoy YA fantasy; it is definitely worth reading the final part of this trilogy!

BOOK REVIEW: Clockwork Prince – by Cassandra Clare

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Title: Clockwork Prince
(The Infernal Devices Trilogy #2)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA, Steampunk, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: December 1st 2011
Finished reading: January 2nd 2015
Pages: 528
Rating 4,5

“We live and breathe words. It was books that kept me from taking my own life after I thought I could never love anyone, never be loved again. It was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone. They could be honest with me, and I with them.”

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After a very disappointing last read of 2014, I needed a book that would guarantee at least a few hours of reading pleasure to make up for it. One of my goals for 2015 is to finally finish some of the series I’ve already started, so I decided to start the year trying to make a dent into the very long list of unfinished series. I really enjoyed the first book of The Infernal Devices trilogy, and since I had book two and three already waiting for my on my TBR pile, I decided to read Clockwork Prince next. The steampunk Victorian world Cassandra Clare sets her story in is without doubt interesting and I love the main characters. Tess, Will, Jem, Sophie, Magnus Bane… It’s hard to pick just one favorite character. The only thing I couldn’t really appreciate is the love triangle between Tess, Will and Jem; I don’t like cheesy romance and their relationship is on the border of becoming just that. But I will forgive Clare because the rest of the sequel is awesome… With some mayor twists in the last few pages that makes you want to read the third and final book straight away. Without doubt recommended to those who enjoy YA fantasy!

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I don’t want to spoil the fun for those who haven’t read the trilogy yet… So I strongly suggest not reading this summary unless you did, since it’s almost impossible to write a spoiler free summary of this sequel.

Tessa Gray is still living with the Shadowhunters in the London Institute, but her safety is in the line when some key members are plotting against Charlotte (the head of the Institute). If they succeed in replacing her, Tessa will be homeless again and an easy prey for the Magister. The Magister is desperate to get Tessa in order to use her powers to finish his dark plans; his powers are increasing and various important characters are following his orders. The clockwork army he is building is becoming stronger by the day and soon will be almost impossible to destroy…

Charlotte is set with an ultimatum in order to keep the Institute; find the exact location of the Magister and she can keep her post. It seems like the Magister started the war with the Shadowhunters seeking revenge, and slowly the members of the London Institute gather more information about his past. But not only information about the Magister is revealed; Tessa and Will also learn more about their past… And Jem is still fighting the disease that will kill him one day. They all have to make some difficult decisions during the search for Mortmain; decisions that will affect and endanger others. Will they find the Magister on time?

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I’ve said it before with Clockwork Angel, but I’m enjoying the prequel trilogy way better than the actual The Mortal Instruments series. I’m not sure if it is because of the setting, the steampunk elements, the book quotes or the characters, but The Infernal Devices trilogy just works. The amount of romance is on the border of being too much for my taste, but the rest of the story makes up for it. Warning: Clockwork Prince ends with some mayor announcements that will make you want to pick up the last book Clockwork Princess straight away. I know I did! I’m glad I didn’t start reading this series when it was first published… Because if I would have had to wait for more than a year to know what would happen next, it would have driven me crazy for sure.

BOOK REVIEW: Clockwork Angel – by Cassandra Clare

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Title: Clockwork Angel
(The Infernal Devices Trilogy #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA, Steampunk, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: August 31st 2010
Finished reading: November 13th 2014
Pages: 479
Rating 4,5

“One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”

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I’ve read the book City Of Bones by the same author a while ago, and have a few sequels of The Mortal Instruments series waiting for me on my TBR pile. When I needed a steampunk book for my Bookish Bingo challenge, and someone suggested reading Cassandra Clare‘s first book of the prequel trilogy, I knew I would probably enjoy it as well. So I decided to pick up a copy of Clockwork Angel, and I have to admit I enjoyed this first book of The Infernal Devices trilogy even better than the actual series. Maybe it was because of the historical London setting, maybe it was because of the many  book quotes or maybe it was even because of the automatons and vampires. But I liked the story and characters way more than in The Mortal Instruments series. The role of Mortmain was surprising and I loved Tessa as a character!

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The story starts when Tessa Gray is invited by her brother to leave New York behind and travel to Victorian London. What she doesn’t know is that her brother Nate was forced to write that letter and as soon as she arrives she is held prisoner by the Dark Sisters. It turns out she is not an ordinary girl; she is actually a shapeshifter who, after some training, can change into anyone she wants by just holding something that belongs to them. The Dark Sisters say she is promised to the Magister, but she manages to escape on time with the help of a Shadowhunter named Will.

Shadowhunters are demonslayers and protect the mundanes (humans) from harm. They give Tessa protection, understanding that in the wrong hands she could be a powerful weapon… And they also realize something big is going to happen soon. A secret organization named the Pandemonium Club is out to destroy the Shadowhunters and take control over the British Empire. They are trying to create an army of clockwork creatures supposedly almost impossible to kill… Vampires, demons, warlocks and humans working together to finish them on time. And there is the case of Tessa’s brother, who is still missing… Will the Shadowhunters find Nate on time and prevent a war with the Pandemonium Club?

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I enjoyed this prequel way more than the actual series, and I will definitely be reading The Infernal Devices trilogy before continuing the actual series. Clockwork Angel was easy to read with interesting characters and historical references. I’ve never read a steampunk novel before, so I cannot make proper comparations, but the automatons added a nice touch to the plot and Tessa’s necklace sounded awesome. Some of the characters were a bit annoying (especially Jessamine), but the rest of the story definitely makes up for it. Definitely recommended for YA Fantasy fans! If you haven’t started The Mortal Instruments series yet, I suggest you to read this prequel trilogy first… Although I have to warn you the series might disappoint you after reading the prequel.