I've never done a manga review before, and I don't plan on doing it regularly. However, this manga, which I picked up with my Christmas money during a Barnes and Noble sale, was one that I had wanted to read for a while considering my enjoyment for the group CLAMP. On the other hand, I've never truly enjoyed their shounen series, prefering their more lighthearted works like Card Captor Sakura and Chobits. However, I decided that since I could buy the work in its entirety for a relatively low price, it'd be worth my investment. Unfortunately, while I don't regret buying the manga, it left me mostly disappointed.
I don't like giving synopsizes, so the one provided is sufficient, although I find it a bit revealing. Especially for this work, one should enter the story knowing no more than the most basic of premises, perhaps nothing at all, about the story, as much of the enjoyment comes from figuring out elements of the story. For example, the significance of the title "Clover" is not immediately obvious.
In CLAMP shounen fashion (e.g. Tsubasa Chronicle), the story is told in a non-linear style, which opens the door to many surprises, paradoxes, and just plain bizarre happenings. If one is interested, the linear progression of the volumes is 4 then 3 then 1 then 2. However, I would recommend reading the story in the order given as, once again, most of the enjoyment of the story stems from figuring it out.
The problem with such a series is that a non linear order begs the answer to every single question proposed. In this aspect, CLAMP fails to deliver. There are gaps in the story that the reader very much wishes were explained, and the relationships between many of the non-core characters are ambiguous. Also, the setting does not seem fleshed out enough, and the reader stumbles around much of the story just figuring out how the world works. Due to this confusion, combined with a ridiculously fast pace, the impact of certain scenes are lost. I think one of the artists admitted that the story would have required another volume to truly complete, and it certainly read that way. However, if you don't mind lingering plotholes, the story is quite enjoyable.
I am not qualified at all to assess this section, but I enjoyed the art of this anime. It at times was abstract and confusing, but the characters were classic and relatable, and the action scenes were well done. It did seem like typical shounen at times, but most of the time it felt very uniquely CLAMP. If you like the art style in CLAMP's other shounen series, you'll like this one. It's strange though to use such shounen elements in what's labeled as a "shoujo" manga, a label with which I very much disagree.
Due to the rushed nature of the narrative, the characters don't get enough development. As I noted earlier, their relationships are quite confusing at times. Sue seemed like a unique character, CLAMP's unique spin on a character who's been broken by circumstance. She simply accepts it as a fact at first, but slowly grows to know the world and therefore wish to escape her cage. Her reaction to this wish is what makes the manga so interesting and is at the heart of the manga's story. Everyone else seems to revolve around that, except for one tangential yet connected romance subplot. Still, I long for more rounded character development in this manga.
I really wanted to enjoy this manga a lot more than I did. There were simply too many inhibiting negatives for me to place it a "solid" rating, however I do highly recommend that any fans of CLAMP read it and decide for themselves. As for anyone else, proceed with caution. If you're buying it as a shoujo work, it will change your perspective on the genre forever.