So…I’m just going to keep this simple and jump right into the reviewing part of this blog since I’m too eager to wait any longer. I’ve been reviewing a lot of amazing books on Goodreads recently, but realized that I wanted and needed a different platform to express my passion—and thoughts—for these books if I really wanted to make a statement. Hence, this half finished product of a blog entitled Ever After Perspective, which I hope will become much more than my digital journal over time.
For my first post (ever), I wanted to review a truly amazing series that really left me breathless. Unearthly and Hallowed by Cynthia Hand has got to be one of the most heart tugging and emotional novels that I have ever encountered amongst YA novels. From the moment I finished reading the last page of Hallowed, I’ve been in turmoil over the complex and bittersweet storyline that Hand left us at. I gave this book 4 stars based on the Goodreads rating system, but again, there’s just so much I want to say about this book that measly stars can’t do justice. For those of you who are looking for something a little different among YA paranormal/fantasy novels, this is it.
My review will encompass both Unearthly and Hallowed, but will probably focus more on the latter.
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.
When I first started reading Unearthly, I was unsure about the direction of the book. My fear was that once high school and prom became involved in Clara’s epic purpose, it would get a little too cheesy and perhaps even ridiculous. Boy was I wrong! Clara, the main character, was a pleasantly enjoying read. Her insights and awareness were extremely real and at times, even hilarious depending on the situation. Cynthia Hand does an amazing job with character building. I love her characters, starting with Clara, who is strong, independent and well….normal, despite the fact that she’s an angel-blood.
The book is set in the beautiful mountains of Wyoming which is perfect because it truly reflects the theme and heart of the story. Like I mentioned before, it’s a breath of fresh air from your typical YA paranormal romance novels. Cynthia Hand’s style of writing is extremely simple, yet she has the ability to capture and convey every feeling, emotion and thought from the characters in just a few short sentences. I love her for that! It’s what makes me fall in love with not only her characters but the series in general. It’s simple yet beautiful. Not many authors can do this….
The pacing of the book is perfect. Hand allows her characters to grow and time actually passes. Clara actually gets to know her love interest(s) before falling in love. It’s real and that’s simply the beauty of it—which is exactly why I’m so very in love with Mr. Tucker Avery. There is a love triangle but it’s so much more than that. It’s absolutely mind riveting because it’s not simply about a girl torn between two sexy male leads. It’s about destiny and free will. You can’t help but understand and feel for Clara—I mean she’s in a pretty crappy situation to begin with, but as I’m sure many readers are aware of, both Christian and Tucker have their own strengths. To be fair, I am definitely Team Tucker by far. I love Tucker—I love everything about him. He’s so human and full of life, and I’m not saying that I don’t like Christian, I’m saying that I just don’t think Christian is as memorable. Christian is hot, dark and mysterious in the way that so many girls, like myself, love. But there’s just something about Tucker that draws me to him. Thinking of Tucker is like reminiscing on a summer romance (which it sort of was). I see flashbacks of nostalgic fairytale-like moments—in black and white or pastel hues. The love between Tucker and Clara reminds me of those bittersweet moments in The Notebook and the idea that one can never really forget their first love. I guess, based on Hallowed, that’s exactly what it was—a summer to love and a summer to remember. I don’t think that Clara’s time with Christian can ever compare and I guess that’s what makes Christian the more realistic choice in Clara’s struggle. Tucker was the fairytale. It was so deeply tragic the way those two ended in Hallowed. Truthfully, it was written perfectly because when it comes to first loves and breaking up, there are just certain things that are left unsaid and undone. As cliché as love triangles are, Cynthia Hand handles this wonderfully. I just hope we can see more of this in the final book!
While the romance swept my heart away, the relationship between Clara and her mother is what left me breathless. After reading Hallowed, I just wanted to crawl into bed with my own mother and eat ice cream. And trust me….that’s rare! The story left me reeling and empty for the first few days after finishing (in a good way). The ending was beautifully written and I honestly believe it’s going to be one of those endings that will stick with me for a while. I am surprised that so much in Hallowed has changed since the beginning of the series. To think Clara was just a high school girl worried about the color of hair back in Unearthly. The color of hair seems so minor in comparison to what she deals with in Hallowed—another sign of Hand’s characters growing throughout the book. Cynthia Hand is simply fantastic at this ‘writing’ thing.
I cannot wait for the next book in this series. I definitely recommend it for those who are looking for a light and romantic read, mixed with a little bit of mystery. I do warn in advance that this series isn’t about big epic battles and saving the world (at least not yet). It’s about a girl growing up, falling in love and coping with the curveballs life throws. But don’t be fooled, even I—a girl who simply lives for ‘big epic battles’—became an Unearthly obsessed softie. One of the best books I’ve read this year.
My Rating: 4/5
Theme Song: Poison & Wine – The Civil Wars
*Photo:Image by © Leah Warkentin/Design Pics/Corbis