Thursday, 7 August 2014

Review: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand book cover

Title: Hallowed
Author: Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly, #2
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 4 / 5
Setting: Jackson, Wyoming, US
Pages: 403

Add to Goodreads

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.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

** Note: As Hallowed is Book Two in a Trilogy, this review may contain spoilers for Unearthly. Best avoid reading further if you haven’t read either book, and are planning on starting the trilogy at some stage. **

I’ve been a bit behind on writing my reviews recently. I sit down to write, and everything I want to say flies out of my head! I read Hallowed a few weeks ago, and I had quickly written some of my feelings and reactions to the book after I finished reading. Now that the rose tinted glasses have faded, I’m afraid I’m going to be a little harder on the book than I would have been right after reading. In short, I really liked Hallowed for the majority, but I’m not very satisfied with how things turned out in the end.

This edition of the story continues a few days after Unearthly ends. A new pattern of normal life emerges with Tucker by Clara’s side. She is starting to come to terms with the choices she made and is realising there could be potential consequences since she failed in completing her purpose. She starts getting a new vision in the form of a recurring dream. Clara finds out that Christian can connect with her thoughts (since they are ‘destined’ to be together) and he helps her figure out what her dreams mean: Someone she loves is going to die. Soon.

I loved all the little hints back to things that occurred in Unearthly in the first few chapters. There were some things I’d forgotten, and getting these short little reminders that didn’t bog down the flow of this story was excellent. Right from the start I was completely caught in the world and loving the book. I was kept wondering what was going to happen, and I just HAD to keep reading to find out more.

Clara has grown up and matured quite a bit since the first book. It was inevitable really, and I think she handles what she has to face as well as any other seventeen year old. I couldn’t help sympathising with her, and hoping things worked out favourably. I love her narrative style: she’s funny, witty and sarcastic and this makes the book very readable. I just can’t help liking her! I really like that she has a support network from both Angela and Wendy. Granted, I would have like to see more of Wendy’s character in this book. She is a good friend that gives solid advice, and I liked seeing this dynamic working well, albeit I’d have liked more! Angela on the other hand I’m a bit suspicious of. I can’t take to her at all really, for some reason I can’t put my finger on.

Tucker is one of those characters I never expected to like. I kind of hated him at the beginning of Unearthly, and then that little scene on the lake… yeah. I fell - hard! There is something about his character that captures your heart unexpectedly, and I love whenever he shows up in the story arc. I really love that he’s a good guy character that is portrayed realistically without turning him into a plain old boring cardboard cut-out. Sometimes the good guys are relegated into the realms of dull and boring. For me, Tucker is the opposite of this. He’s kind, caring, considerate, stands up for himself and those he cares about, and isn’t afraid to fight for what he believes in. Yes, these are clich├ęd traits of a nice guy, but I feel the difference is they are actually believably portrayed. We get to see this side of him, rather than being told about it. Yeah, it’s a little obvious I’m Team Tucker, isn’t it? Ok! Here ends the gushing! One more little thing though: I kept wanting to see more of Clara and Tucker together, and I felt Christian’s presence interfered with this dynamic too much.

And speaking of Christian, he annoys the hell out of me! I’m so sorry to everyone who prefers Christian over Tucker, but I just cannot take to him at all. What makes it worse; I was starting to like him at times in Hallowed, then he goes and starts being the douche that won’t respect Clara’s wishes and take NO for an answer. I get that they share a connection, but when he won’t respect Clara’s opinion and her choices, I can’t justify that. It’s a cardinal sin as far as I’m concerned! I do genuinely believe he cares for Clara, but I can’t help questioning his motives. He’s very dedicated to the Angel-blood cause, and it seems he’s determined to get their purpose back on track through any means necessary.

Looking back on Hallowed now, I wonder how my reaction to it will change when I read Boundless. While I was reading I was captivated, but I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll end up thinking of Hallowed as a filler book: a bridge to get to the climax in Boundless? I’m sort of questioning the pacing of the story in Hallowed. Lots of little things happen in the larger chunk of the book, and then we get a lot of important information within a few chapters very quickly right at the end. For all we actually learn, and when all this knowledge is received, now I’m thinking quite a bit of the story was drawn out unnecessarily. There were quite a few instances where things could have been explored, but were glossed over. Free will, for example. If they truly have free will, why do the Angel-bloods have to fulfill their purpose? They can choose not to, but what will happen? Will their prearranged destiny happen with or without their participation? I feel like I’m left with far too many questions, and I didn’t get the answers I need. Hopefully Boundless will help clarify all of this in a believable way.

When the ending of a book disappoints, I find it taints my overall opinion no matter how much I loved the beginning. It’s the last thing I remember, the one thing I’m left with when I finish the final pages. When something I don’t like occurs, I can’t shake it out of my mind. I could see quite a bit of the ending unfolding a mile away, but I was hoping for things to veer away from this conclusion. Maybe it’s the fact that I could predict the ending very early on that put me off, I’m not sure.

Unfortunately, this has made me very cautious about starting Boundless. I felt let down with the ending of one trilogy I completed recently: the Breathing Trilogy by Rebecca Donovan, and now I’m kind of terrified that this one will end up disappointing me as well. I’ve connected with Clara, Tucker and the others in this trilogy far more than I ever did with the Breathing books, so I’m desperate for a believable conclusion, even if it doesn’t turn out the way I want it to. I wanted to give Hallowed 5 stars, and I think I would have done if I was convinced by the ending. Unfortunately, I wasn’t and that’s the main reason why I’ve only given a 4.

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