Steampunk is an AU version of our Victorian era. The Mortal Instruments series is parallel to our own, existing beside it at the same time while hidden. It felt really really thrown together. Like she grabbed Steampunk because it's popular at the moment and tacked it on to her other series and then brought it to her publisher and went 'viola.' I'm sort of disgusted with the whole thing. It seems like Cassandra Clare hasn't had an original thought of her own in her life.
So I'm not the only one who caught that? I've never read steampunk before (but I plan to one day soon) and don't know much about it, but I know just enough to know that the AU steampunk Victorian era of Clockwork Angel shouldn't lead to the modern era we live in and that the Mortal Instruments books take place in. Maybe the book explains how that happens at some point, but as an outsider looking in, I don't get it.
Couldn't she have just written this steampunk stuff into a new, unrelated-to-Mortal-Instruments series instead of an MI prequel? She has a fanbase now, so people will buy it whether or not it's related to Mortal Instruments; they'll buy it because it's her. It irritates me when an author seems to cling to a series like that. They'll add new material to it that seems more like it should have been in a new series and the series being added to becomes ruined. Just one of my reader's pet peeves.
There are elements of steampunk to the novel, but those elements (automatons, etc) are held apart from the "normal" world much like the magical elements of the series are separated from the "normal" world. IOW, the only people dealing with steampunk-like technology are the major players (heroes and villains). Not everyone in this Victorian era are riding around in dirigibles and/or using similar technology. Therefore, to me, it's not out of the realm of possibility that this type of sequestered technology would go out of use as the digital age nears.
Steam punk didn't bother me at all in this book. It actually made for an interesting army - apart from the werewolves, vampires, fair folk, demons, and the like in the MI series. So I welcomed the lack of 'monsters.' It focused more on the characters instead.