Hallowed by Cynthia Hand (Review)

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.”

I can’t stop reading these books! Every second I get, I try to read a little bit more. I love these characters, Clara, Tucker, Jeffrey, Angela, etc. But some of the them are pushed to the side in Hallowed. Wendy only appears significantly in a scene or two, and even Tucker disappears in the middle. Christian is fleshed out more, and he’s a sympathetic character for the most part (I’ll talk more about him in the spoiler section).

There’s some twists that I saw coming and some that I didn’t. A lot of tiny threads from Unearthly are fleshed out and resolved. Cynthia Hand does a wonderful job of laying the bedrock of larger plot points in subtle ways that you don’t notice until you see them in hindsight.

Hallowed reveals more about what it means to be an angel-blood which I really like. I also like the variation in talents between the angel-bloods because it makes them feel more realistic.

I won’t go into who dies, but their death and Clara’s grieving is handle beautifully. Clara reacts very naturally. The experience changes her but she’s remains distinctly Clara. She keeps her sense of humor throughout thought it’s marred by sadness. She matures a lot.

While I loved Unearthly more, Hallowed is great follow up. It fleshes some of the characters and the themes, and it’ll give you all the feels.

Rating 4/5

SPOILER CORNER

As I said earlier, Christian is sympathetic for the most part, but he seems slightly manipulative if you look closer at his actions. First he tells Clara that he believes she made the right decision following her heart and choosing Tucker right after he told her how he joined the angel community, which requires him to commit to fulfilling his purpose (i.e. being with Clara). Clara should have known after that that Christian’s true intentions are not to be friends with her but to convince her to choose him over Tucker. At prom, he asks her for a dance. He says that he only wants to because they’re friends, but you can tell that friendship is not his true intention. This all comes out into the open when he kisses Clara in the cemetery–while she’s still dating Tucker.

He also sits outside her window ALL THE TIME and speaks in her mind, never giving her any space. And Clara just lets it happen. Ever since she finds out her mother is dying, it’s like she gives up on Tucker and resisting her purpose. It almost feels like Christian uses the grief over their mothers dying to ingratiating himself further into her life. He kisses her and springs his declaration of love on her WHEN her mother is about to die IN the cemetery where she’s going to be buried in AT Christian’s mother’s graveside. He tells her that he’s going to be there for her no matter what, but he seems like he wants more out of this arrangement than he’s letting on. When Tucker goes off on him, he says that he and Clara belong together and shows no remorse for kissing Clara while she loves someone else and is grieving for her mother.

Her mother’s death wears Clara down. At the end of the book, she breaks up with Tucker because she thinks that he’ll be happier with a normal girl. She also goes to Stanford solely because Angela’s vision takes place there and Angela says that she sees Clara there. She doesn’t even put up a fight about it and doesn’t seem to actually want to go to Stanford. And guess who’s also going to Stanford: Christian. And she’s seems happy about it, not creeped out at all.

The ending to Hallowed is so depressing because it feels like Clara is giving up on fighting for what she really wants and is bowing to a destiny that she didn’t choose. I don’t know what Cynthia Hand is trying to say about freewill vs. destiny. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt since the series isn’t finished. But Hallowed’s ending makes it seem like she’s saying that the characters should just follow their purposes instead of their freewill because following their purposes will lead to a happy ending anyway. Clara’s mom, for example, reveals that her purpose was marrying Clara’s father and having Clara and Jeffrey. She fought against it for decades but eventually chose it because she realized it would give her the happiest moments of her life. But something about applying that to Clara’s situation feels so disingenuous and sad. By the end, all of Clara’s decisions about based on what she’s supposed to do and not what she wants.

Also, I did not see the Jeffrey reveal coming. I feel so sorry for Jeffrey. I understand why he feels so lost. His sister messed up her purpose. The fact that Tucker wasn’t supposed to die adds a whole nother layer of questions. Maybe this means that he’s not out of Clara’s life just yet?

I have no idea where this series in going to go in Boundless, which proves Hand’s mad skills as a writer. Usually I can tell which guy the protagonist is going to end up with, but in this series, I feel like it could go either way.

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