Spoilers are in this post, so do not read this if you haven’t read “Unearthly” yet.
“Hallowed” by Cynthia Hand
4 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Clara Gardener has had quite the school year. First she had to move to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a far cry from southern California, that’s for sure. Secondly the boy she was supposed to save (according to her purpose) was (socially) out of reach because, well, it is high school. Thirdly she fell in love with a boy she never expected to get along with, let along begin to care for. And last, but certainly not least, she and her mother were both almost killed by a deranged murderer, as are most murderers. Oh, yeah, and she messed up her purpose so bad that both her and Christian’s lives are pretty jacked up right now. That about sums up her time in Jackson Hole so far, and all Clara is hoping for this year is a bit of peace and quite. But becomes abundantly cleat to her that an angel’s work is never finished.
Clara has always thought that she would have one great purpose and once she had completed it, she could go on living her life. But since she messed up her purpose, it seems that something else is brewing in place of that original purpose, and someone she loves is going to die, possibly because of what she did. She doesn’t know the how or why, not even who it’s going to happen to, but it is going to happen during springtime. Clara has learned from experience that purposes may look or mean one thing when, in reality, they are actually completely different from what you thought they were. Clara begins wonder if her latest dream is supposed to be a warning, a future she is meant to change, or if she is just meant to stand by and let it all happen? She took her future into her own hands once before, and look at what that got everyone! Clara doesn’t regret what she did, just the people she hurt because of that choice. But how on earth can she let this dream come to pass, letting that person go without putting up a fight? The answer is as clear as day to her: she won’t.
Can Clara stop what she’s seen, or is her entire world about to break apart? Will she ruin everything again by trying to stop the inevitable, or is she the one who can fix it all, past, present, and future?
There is a commonly known illness going around and authors seem to be the only ones catching it: Second (or sophomore) Book Syndrome. It is very common, and very deadly to both the writer and their readers. The side-effects of this deadly virus are:
- Mediocre or runaround plot lines,
- Characters who seem to be bipolar and not like themselves,
- Half a**ed bad guys,
- Mind-numbingly boring filler so they can call it a book and not a novella,
- And the infernal love triangle that makes the average reader despise both the heroine and/or the heroe(s).
Most authors I have read have been victims to Second Book Syndrome, but I am very glad to say that Cynthia Hand’s “Hallowed” was not one of them, and that is why I bought all three of her books online right after finished them. Yes, I loved them THAT much. Paid through the nose, too, but I regret nothing!
Alright, let’s start talking about the premise of this book, and all the reasons why I love it and its author.
Clara knows that someone she loves very much is going to die, and she estimates that it is springtime when she will have to say goodbye to them. The only problem with this (besides that person dying, of course) is that she has no clue who it will be. Clara (beware) kind of goes a bit skit-so because she doesn’t know if she can stop it from happening, and she doesn’t know who to protect from it, and actions are quite understandable, although at times are a bit too stalkerish for comfort. We all have experienced loss of a loved one at one time or another, and so I wasn’t too bothered by her manic depressant attitude because I could empathize with her, but there were times when she was very selfish and did not recognizing it as being so, and that did bother me a bit. She hurt a lot of people in “Hallowed” because of her oblivious, self-centered nature, but she did learn some lessons that lead to good character growth in this book, and so that was good.
Christian was also a great character in this book. I really began to see his sweet side and I was more willing to acknowledge that he was a good guy, whereas in “Unearthly” I was practically chanting Tucker’s name every time Christian was present. To be quite honest, I was still chanting Tucker’s name the entire book, but I could admire Christian for his kindness towards Clara during a tough time in her life and the friendship he offered her. The only thing I didn’t like was that Clara was still undecided when it came to her and Christian even though she was dating Tucker. That’s a no, no in my book, but I can forgive Cynthia because I got why Clara was torn whereas in most books there’s usually no reason to be indecisive. I didn’t like it, but I can respect it.
Yeah, I have fallen in love with this boy, and I am still wondering why God hasn’t created any boys like my Tucker, and if He has, where are they in this universe?!! I had read this series while the Olympics were going, and every time I saw someone skiing or snowboarding, I started to cry because I was thinking of all of Tucker’s and Clara’s beautiful times together! Okay, I wasn’t crying, but I did go into fangirl mode in front of my sisters a few time. I’m kind of crazy/nerdy in fangirl mode if you haven’t already noticed.
Besides the fact that I love this boy, Tucker is just a fantastically written male character. He was smart, funny, and sweet while still being a really strong male lead. He was practically the only full-blooded human in Clara’s group, but he held his own in “Hallowed” and didn’t act like a weakling even when Clara kicks him in the emotional…well, I’ll leave that for you to fill in if you would like. There are just so many layers to his character despite the fact that he was the good boy in this series. He wasn’t mysterious or broody, and maybe that was/is the reason why I loved his character so much.
I happen to hate it when authors think that, for a character to be interesting, they need to make them broody and mysterious or misunderstood. That’s great for some people, but that is exactly what I dislike in male characters. I feel that the characters play too many games (never communicating is one of the worst products of these games) romantically if they are written that way; playing games in relationships, romantic or not, never ends well. Honesty is the best policy. I get that authors try to build tension or intrigue through those personality traits, but it doesn’t always work out well, and then the writers dig themselves into, not just holes, but trenches that are nearly impossible to climb out of when the time comes. Cynthia Hand, however, created tension between friends and family, romantic drama, and emotional turmoil without too many of those irritating games being played (Christian and Clara had some of those kinds of moments, although the fault lies with Clara 99% of the time. And Tucker, my love, was never the issue, even when Clara did something stupid. YAY!). Yeah, maybe there were some of those games in this book, but Cynthia did a great job of writing them so that I wasn’t irritated with her or the characters.
P.S. Tucker is such a good quality character that he doesn’t need all of that drama to become a dynamic, intriguing, and unforgettable character. He is a BOSS and he has his own SWAG to go with it.
Character drama aside, there are a lot of things going on in this book. The bad guy from the first book comes back and he isn’t who I originally thought he was; oh, he’s still as evil as they come, but there is more to him than meets the eye. I was also a little surprised by what Clara discovers about herself, and maybe I should’ve guessed it, but I didn’t because maybe, just maybe, I am extremely gullible. Then we find out who is going to die in this book, and I kind of cried, like a lot. Like a faucet, actually.
They didn’t stop until a few minutes after I finished “Hallowed”; the last scene in this book was super emotional in a sad but happy way. I have to hand it to Cynthia Hand, she really got the waterworks going, and that takes a skilled writer to do that to me. Tahereh Mafi, although I loved her first two books and her novellas, she never made me cry. I think that is one of the signs of my favorite author(s) is whether they can make me cry or laugh alongside their characters. Cynthia Hand made me laugh, cry, and dance around my room in happiness, and I cannot wait to read more of her books. AMAZING!!!
P.S. The only thing that I didn’t like about this book was Clara’s friend, Angela. I really wish Wendy, Tucker’s super awesome twin sister, had been the main female friend, but other than that I really liked this book.