Review: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Four stars

“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.”

Suggestion: If you haven’t read it, read my review of Unearthly. I’m going to be referencing it!

Now, once that’s done, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that I wasn’t that impressed with Unearthly. I liked it for sure, but it was fairly boring all things considered. I was left with hope, however, that Hallowed would be better than the first book. Going into it, though, I was worried. I’d too recently had my hopes crushed by Crossed by Ally Condie.

The beginning didn’t exactly assuage my fears quickly. I halted about 50 pages of the way in, terrified I was looking at ANOTHER slow start. For everyone’s reference, things ALMOST happening are not the same as things ACTUALLY happening. You need more than a few “cry wolf’s” for me to be hooked.

And then the rest of the book HAPPENED.

Sure, it had its faults (which I’ll get to be in a minute) but MAN things happened. I’d gotten an inkling of how wrapped in the book Hand could keep a person at the end of Unearthly, and now she was USING that power the way it was meant to be used. New characters, new issues, new answers, new questions. Take note, Crossed, THIS is what a 2nd book in a trilogy should look more like. Tucker and Clara continued to be cute, the angel lore/world continued to get more and more interesting–all the things I liked got expanded, which was nice.

Now, of course, the big thing here is the death expected in the book. I don’t want to give away who it is, so I’ll try really hard to just explain how I feel about it without mentioning a name. I was worried about this premise, because the whole “oh someone’s going to die” thing always seems to be taken so melodramatically. Hand handles it quite well, I must say. There is a certain level of melodramatic-ness that just has to be there because that’s what this plot convention is about, but it didn’t rule the situation. I’m not one to get overly emotional at books, but the last scene made me take a sniff or two. It was excellently done and I applaud.

Most of the things that I took issue to in this book were nitpicky, so I’ll just run through them quickly:

A) The whole love triangle thing. Don’t get me wrong, Hand deals with it MUCH, MUCH better than I’ve seen anyone do lately. I’m still impressed, even after reading this book. However, I do feel that it got to be a bit much in Hallowed. There is only so much you can discuss a love triangle issue before you start falling into cliché just because it’s what a love triangle lends itself too. Hand does it well, but I don’t think she needs to do it so much.

B) Clara’s mother’s purpose. Um, what? Pardon me, but I feel that it just seemed a little … trite? That’s not the word, but I hope you understand. Something about it didn’t sit with me, but that’s possibly because it’s going to be retroactively explained in the final book.

C) Jeffrey’s purpose. You can’t just throw something like that into the last few pages of the book like that, people! After all the big reveals and sadness and everything, I felt like this just got tacked on and didn’t get the importance it deserved. Obviously it’s going to be a big part of the next book, but the little that was in Hallowed was … hollow.

D) Samjeeza. Two books later, I’m still not really any closer to understanding this guy. While I feel that’s the point–it’s obviously intentional how kept in the dark we’re supposed to be–it’s still rather annoying. He’s attacking, then he’s sorry, then he’s nasty, then he’s upset–and there is no explanation of why.  Why in the world Clara did what she did at the graveyard still confuses me. Even Clara didn’t seem to understand the plot move she was making.

Clearly, those four issues just need one thing to resolve them: the next book. And you can bet I’ll be reading it, without a doubt. Hallowed was a solid, interesting and always moving. The best part? I can’t already predict how this is all going to end. Sure, I can formulate, but I can formulate multiple scenarios and that is exciting. I can’t even tell you if I’m Team Tucker or Team Christian, because Hand has made me love them both in so many ways. I liked Unearthly, but it wasn’t as good as I thought it could be. Hallowed is a definite, visible improvement that makes me almost more excited to read the third book than the actual plot.

The third book in the Unearthly series is yet untitled and slated for a 2013 release.

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