Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Review: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 with 2 comments
Hallowed (Unearthly, #2)Title:  Hallowed
Author:  Cynthia Hand
Series:  Unearthly
Publisher:  HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date:  January 17, 2012
Source:  publisher via Netgalley
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

 For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

Described by Richelle Mead as “utterly captivating,” Unearthly received outstanding reviews, garnered accolades from New York Times bestselling authors, and was named an Indie Next Pick. In this heart-wrenching sequel, Cynthia Hand expertly captures the all-consuming joy of first love—and the agony of loss. This beautifully woven tale will appeal to fans of Lauren Kate, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Aprilynne Pike.

Words…I have no words.

But if I had to sum up Hallowed in just one, that word would be GLORY-ous. See what I did there?

Okay, my notes are a little sloppy with this one, so bear with me, guys. It was simply too hard to pull myself away from the book for any length of time in order to write more legibly.  First, I want to discuss why Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly series is streets ahead of other offerings in the YA genre. I almost want to call it the anti-YA novel, but that might imply that I find something wrong with YA books, and that is certainly not the case. I actually prefer young-adult novels for the most part. But it just seems to me that this author strives for her books to expand upon all those things that leave most YA novels lacking, and in turn, make her novel better than most.

For instance, I really appreciate that Clara has a normal family life. And they’re actually close. The mother-daughter bonding in this series is rather unusual for this genre but it is so welcome. There is such a sense of family and community, made more obvious when Clara meets more of her angel brethren. Sometimes in YA novels, it’s almost as if characters have to be shipped off to boarding school, or the parents are married to their work and not involved at all, in order for the characters to make mistakes and eventually end up in the situations they do. What happened to a loving, caring family? I know they still exist…I came from one. So, it is quite refreshing to see that Clara can manage to get herself into sticky situations all on her own while still maintaining a normal upbringing and keeping her mother’s trust. Well, as much as any teenage girl can. But it’s easy to see that although Clara’s family is not all together, they still love each other and try to protect one another.

Speaking of love, I have to discuss the triangle, of course. I knew it was coming after the events of Unearthly; I just didn’t know it was going to be so perfect. I am not the biggest fan of love triangles, but when done properly, I can appreciate them. In this series, the author expertly described Clara falling in love with one boy in the first book, and then in the next book, the reader can see how Clara develops feelings for the other boy, though never wavering in her love for the first. It’s amazing how she can paint this picture of two burgeoning relationships and never make me want to commit acts of violence against Clara for her lack of conviction. I said this in my review of Unearthly earlier this year, and I stand by it: “And the love story? It's the one that little girls dream of. It's so beautifully told, and so expertly woven, that you can't believe you didn't expect it from the very beginning.”

A lot happened in the span of a summer, and it’s changed the characters…made them more determined, more mature and definitely more real. Sure, Clara’s spent a lot of time focused on a boy, but he was her “purpose”. Now she’s got to move on and figure out what the next step is, but Clara is strong and unwavering. She will do what has to be done, but it will be on her own terms. The love interests both have their strengths, as well, and I would have a hard time deciding which boy to share a future with, too, if I was Clara. I adore Tucker and his country charm, but it’s easy to be distracted by Christian, especially when all signs point to him being Clara’s soulmate. The relationship--nay, the friendship--doesn’t develop overnight between Clara and Christian, though; it actually takes Clara quite a while to really make room for Christian in her life. But as the time passes, it’s easy to see how Clara could fall for Christian. I was completely over the moon with Tucker, and even I fell for Christian.

But the author is partly to blame for that, since she did write one of the most poignant and emotional novels I’ve read. Clara’s sarcastic wit had me laughing out loud one minute, and the next, I was sobbing, much to the chagrin of my husband, who hates to see me cry. And I don’t normally cry when I’m reading because most books don’t usually touch my heart the way Hallowed did. But it was so sad and so unbelievably heart-breaking that it was almost unbearable.

What’s more unbearable is having to wait for the next book, with all the theories and hopes swirling around in my head. I think this second installment did a great job of answering some of the questions concerning Clara’s angel heritage and is moving the storyline flawlessly toward Clara’s purpose. If not for work and sleep, I would have happily read this book in one sitting. Even if you don’t normally like angel-themed books, I dare you not to enjoy this series.


  1. So happy you loved this too, Jeannette! *sigh* I can't wait for book three.

  2. What a beautiful review Jeanette. Well written and thought out. I am absolutely frantic to get this one! Can't wait for you to review Clockwork Prince!


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