Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: Hallowed - Cynthia Hand

Released: January 17th, 2012
Borrowed from library

Description from 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 (omitting spoiler) and her complicated feelings about the roles she and (omitting spoiler) 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.


This review is of the second book in the Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand. I took out the names of some of the characters in the above description because I felt they were a little spoilery of the first book. You can check out the Goodreads page if you want to see more. Again, this review may contain small spoilers from the first book, so enter at your own risk! :)

Review after the break.

Where oh where to begin with this one. While I loved Unearthly, Hallowed is my favorite of the series so far. As is normal with series books, the first book gives introductions to the characters, the world, the plot, and has a little bit of action. The second book is where it can dive head first into drama and plot and develop the characters along the way. I typically find myself enjoying the second book in a series almost every time because sometimes all the introductions to things feel a bit dragged out to me. For the most part, authors do a bang up job of making it seem effortless instead of it reading, "This is A. She has hair and eyes and likes more than 1 boy at once. This is B. He likes A and is a bad guy but is good inside."

Hand develops each of the characters further in this second installment and I found myself engrossed in the story line. We learn more about Clara's mother, her father, Christian, Clara's brother, and a slew of new minor characters that add the right kind of fluff to a story that benefits it as a whole. I am in love with the world Hand has written. I am glad I waited until now to read it because I have no idea if I could appreciate it as much as I do now if I discovered it earlier on in my reading career. There are such emotional themes and the heartbreaking reality of life and how everyone goes through the same things, although not as intensely as the angels of this series do, I mean, they're angels.

Clara was never a weak character in my opinion, but she definitely grew stronger in tough times and acted very realistic in most scenes. I liked that she was grounded enough to realize that she could only control her actions and had to let fate take its course... except for the pesky little fact that fate was trying to kill her boyfriend. It was heartbreaking to see Clara reacting to her new vision/purpose and have to hold it all in while being around the person who it involved. And there are a few twists that aren't expected and to be honest, I'm pretty upset with Hand. Clara's mom is one of my favorite characters in this series, and one of my favorite adult/parental characters in YA series and she WENT THERE. I think it also impacted me so deeply because I saw so much of my own mother in Clara's mom, except for the angel part. I pictured my mom while I read Hallowed, and at the end, I went through half a box of tissues and had to take a break before finishing the story. Hand knows how to hand you something precious and then show you that not all things are meant to be and makes you okay and upset with it at the same time. 

Hallowed has a lot of themes going on and it took me a while to digest this story when I was done reading. It was about 2 full days before I was able to have a thought that didn't overshadow something I felt when reading Hallowed.

Hand writes about mortality versus immortality and how both are equal in their pros and cons. Clara experiences almost every emotion known to human kind, and even some known to angel kind, in this second book, and I was right beside her, crying, shouting, shaking, laughing, and contemplating what to do next. Clara learns more about her parents and what it means for her continuing forward. She learns how to cope with grief, anger, and fear all before bedtime. Once again, Hand has strengthened the relationships in this series by throwing wrenches into each situation and having the readers watch how the characters crawl out from under the wreckage. 

Having heard Hand talk about her literary background and experience in studying literature and writing literary fiction, I can definitely see where all this intellectual thought and prosecution of detail comes into play in her Unearthly series. I am not ashamed to admit I am an emotional person, but I feel that I am not the only one who has been deeply moved and affected by Hand's writing. Even though this is paranormal YA fiction, I feel as though this fiction could very well be reality if we looked hard enough around us. Wishful thinking, but it is her attention to detail and relationship development that convinces me of her talent and dedication to the YA genre. I am very much looking forward to what she comes out with next. Release day, I'll be at a bookstore. 

Have you read Unearthly or Hallowed? Team Christian or Tucker?

Happy Reading!


  1. I did read both Unearthly and Hallowed. I think I'm team Christian, even though I think Tucker is the better guy, I believe Christian and Clara are destined for each other. After reading this book, I feel so badly for Jeffery, I sure hope he doesn't go to the dark side.

    1. Oh, I'm so worried about Jeffrey! At the end of Unearthly, I had such a suspicion of what his purpose was, and I was still shocked when we find out what it is in Hallowed. :( It's funny, I think of Jeffrey as Clara's little brother, as in like, 10 or 12 years old, and he's only a year younger. My bad, haha!

      I read a review of Radiant, the e-novella between Hallowed and Boundless. While I was at a signing with Cynthia Hand, she said originally she wanted what happens in Radiant to be in Boundless, but her editor suggested making it a novella because it would have been Boundless too long. But I guess the reviewer says it's worth reading because it's Clara and Angela's trip to Italy and you learn a lot about the mystery guy and it leads into Boundless really nicely.

      Thanks for stopping by, Gina!

  2. I STILL need to read this series. I'm kind of surprised it's passed me by. Actually, I'm not - it's because I have too many dang things to read and not enough time! ANYWAYS. This one sounds pretty incredible. I really cannot wait to get to experience the characters and Hand's writing for myself sometime. I can be pretty emotional, too, so I can relate. It's impressive that the author is able to affect the reader so deeply with just her words! Now that's talent. I really loved this review!!

    1. Aylee, I felt the same way about starting this series. Girls with dresses on the cover didn't sway me enough to look into them, and I wasn't sure I would enjoy another angel series after Hush, Hush didn't do anything for me.

      And RIGHT?! So many amazing books have been coming out, I get kind of sad when I think I wouldn't be able to read all of them in my lifetime. Then I get anxious and I don't want to read anything because I hate when a book ends or a series finishes. It also helps when I take long reading breaks because by the time I finish #1 or #2 in a series, the sequel is already out because I've procrastinated long enough!

      Thanks for checking out my review, Aylee! I hope you get to this series soonish! :)


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