By Cynthia Hand
Pub:January 17th 2012 by HarperTeen
Review Copy: Hardcover (personal copy)
For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn't prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought.
Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves 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.
In this compelling sequel to "Unearthly," Cynthia Hand captures the joy of first love, the anguish of loss, and the confusion of becoming who you are.
The biggest fear I had in reading Hallowed was how it would live up to Unearthly. Unearthly was probably the best angel book I have read. The idea of an assigned heavenly purpose and Clara’s struggle with her purpose versus her free will was riveting. All of the characters were well created and interesting and, believable. There were so many twists and turns, but they all flowed logically in hindsight, then the conclusion to Unearthly was so unexpected and left many questions unanswered. It was a book that stayed with me after reading it and I'd find myself gushing to people about how cool it was.
Hallowed starts a few weeks after the heart-stopping forest fire of Unearthly with Clara no closer to understanding just what happened the day of the fire. Everything is in limbo, with Clara having no idea if she’s actually failed her purpose or if it’s still ongoing, with more to it than just saving Christian. Clara feels tremendous guilt over her choices that day. She doesn’t regret what she did but she feels the implications of her choice for herself and those she cares about.
I really like that we get to understand Christian better in Hallowed. In Unearthly Christian felt distant and removed from the story, despite his central importance. Here, we get to know Christian more as he and Clara finally get the chance to know each other and discover just what the connection they share is. Learning more about Christian added to the backstory of Unearthly and actually makes me, as the reader, even more conflicted about Clara's choices in Unearthly. We start to see in Hallowed, just how little Clara understood everything that was happening in Unearthly and how she may have needed more faith in the things she didn't understand and more trust in why things seemed to happen the way they did.
I also really liked how Cynthia Hand dealt with the love triangle in Hallowed. Clara herself addresses how she herself has always hated love triangles in stories and the triangle of Clara – Christian – Tucker is no ordinary triangle. Clara doesn't vacillate between the two boys, unsure of her heart. I really felt for Clara. She knows she loves Tucker. He has her heart. The problem is that Christian is her destined soul mate as decided by Heaven. Clara is torn between who she wants to be with and who she needs to be with (according to her purpose and all the signs she’s been given). There is a lot of pressure being put on Clara and while Clara seemed to make a decision towards the end of Hallowed, I'll be surprised if this triangle is really fully resolved.
While Clara’s love life is a major story in Hallowed, the strength of this book is once again a dream/ vision Clara has and how she handles what is expected of her. I didn’t think Hallowed could match the tension created by Clara’s vision in Unearthly, but somehow Hallowed manages to meet that same crazy level. It’s amazing how well Cynthia Hand weaves tension through Clara’s story by giving us a vision of the future than challenging what we think we know will happen for the rest of the book. Everything we see is true, but how we understand it is continually changing as new information comes to light.
I hate to give too much away because, as I’ve said. A huge part of the joy in reading these books is the surprise twists that are always popping up. Even when you know you’ve figured some things out, there is always something else that just pops up out of nowhere and bops you on the head.
If you loved the way it felt to read Unearthly I promise you’ll love Hallowed just as much. I can’t wait to see what’s next for these characters. I feel like something really big is on the horizon, but I know I won’t see it coming until the last moment and that’s just fine with me.
Don't forget to leave a comment or a link to your review of Unearthly or Hallowed and click the link at the side of the page to enter my MARCHing through book 2 giveaway!