Book Review of Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Posted February 1, 2013 by Kara in Uncategorized / 16 Comments

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: January 1st, 2012
Pages: 403
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy 
Source: I own the book

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 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.

Review: It is tough to write a review for a sequel or the middle of a series. However, I felt that Hand gave the reader enough material to feel that the book was an extension instead of additional chapters for the first in the series. Hallowed picks up where Unearthly leaves off. After Clara defied her purpose, which drove the plot of the last book, I felt that going into this book would be an adventure. For the majority of sophomore books in a series, you have a clear idea of what is happening in the follow up story. Hallowed felt like new ground, a rarity in the middle of a series.

Clara can still be a bit undescriptive, but her emotional turmoil in the book helped carry the story forward. In fact, Hallowed’s purpose tapped into an unknown side of Clara: she’s a girl who is dealing with loss, whereas in Unearthly, Clara faces down beginnings and discovery. Hallowed also tended to be steeped in the deep drama-sauce. The events in the book were highly charged and emotional and Clara had her reasons for her emotional episodes. The focus is the loss of one of the main characters; a character that I felt oddly connected to, and I found the grief and the shredding of the family completely believable and very depressing (in a good way, if that makes any sense). Instead of centralizing the main conflict around boy trouble (although this book has a fair amount of conflict about boy trouble), Hand decides to bring grieving and the loss of loved ones into the plot. Insert my praise for a writer who can see beyond romance and love as the only reason to write for a younger audience.


While we are on the subject of boy drama, I’m downright thrilled that Christian was given the proper attention he deserved. I’ll make it clear from the start that I have nothing against Tucker. He was a great character and a wonderful love interest from the first book. But I felt that Christian was always cheated because he was never given the development and attention that Tucker received in Unearthly. It was easy to be Team Tucker from the first book because Christian was bland and one dimensional. However, the author designed one of the key elements to give Christian the spotlight and focus on his own character. I feel that the playing field in the love triangle has been balanced. I can say that I tend to lean towards Christian, although I feel a bit distressed that his main argument for a relationship is because the Upstairs Daddy deemed it so. And as I stated in my updates, I shall drag my opinion back to the Land of Unpopular Opinions.

I think that someone cannot write about this book and not mention the major shafting of poor Jeffrey. The poor kid is nothing but a tool for the complexity of the storyline and to throw more attention onto the wonderfulness of Clara. Jeffrey is ignored for the majority of the book, then he reveals his BIG REVELATION, and is then pushed back into his own corner. I can’t understand why such an interesting and important character is virtually ignored in the series. I kept wanting to reach into the book and give the little guy a shoulder to cry upon. Clara is a great main character, but the author tends to really let her preference show. We all know who Mommy Hand prefers and she doesn’t try to hide who her favorite kid is in the family. Hint: It’s not Jeffrey. Clara takes the center stage and holds on for dear life. 

I was pleased with this second installment of the angel-themed series. Even with the blaring failure of keeping the central characters relevant, this one is above and beyond the other angelic centered books on YA shelves.

4/5 Dragons

 Purchase Hallowed from Amazon.

16 responses to “Book Review of Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

  1. Amy

    Awesome review Lyn. I am not a fan of angel books or love triangles, but Cynthia Hand just has a fantastic way of making me so invested in the characters and the story. In fact, I love the character growth best of all.

  2. Exactly–the playing field was leveled in this one. HOORAY, you’re done with this! Now onto the third.

    I agree with Jeffrey getting somewhat shafted, too–that continues in BOUNDLESS, tbh. I know he’s a secondary character, as is Angela, and yet I still wish I knew more about them.

  3. I like what you said about this novel starting fresh, with new material. It’s definitely true in the case of Hallowed. In a trilogy, the second book in the series is almost always a bridge book, but I don’t feel that was the case here. What with the stuff going on in relation to Clara’s mom, I didn’t feel like Hand stretched things out or wasted space.

    “I feel a bit distressed that his main argument for a relationship is because the Upstairs Daddy deemed it so.” — That was exactly my problem with Christian, and, overall, probably one of the lingering problems with this novel altogether.

  4. I love this series so much. I finished Boundless last weekend and was just so sad that it was over. Happy to see that you liked this one so much, I can’t wait to see what you think of Boundless *waits with bated breath*

  5. I’m glad you liked this one, Lyn! You’ll be glad to know that Christian gets A LOT of screen-time in Boundless. I am Team Tucker, but reading Boundless, I was beginning to shift just a little bit. Honestly, I’m Team Clara. I loved both Christian and Tucker that I would have been satisfied with whoever she chose. And I felt connected to the character that died (trying best to avoid spoilers!), too. There are quite a few memories about that person in Boundless and I just wanted to crawl up in fetal position and cry while eating ice cream. (I burst out crying during one memory that wasn’t even that remarkable. It was such a simple memory – the two watched Wizard of Oz annually together, and when they were little they even did the little walk across the yellow brick road, and just the recollection of that memory had me bawling. I wouldn’t be surprised if I tear up writing this comment!) And I agree about Jeffrey’s character. He does play a slightly larger role in Boundless, but for the most part he is a character who is pushed under the rug when he really deserves to be front and center. I don’t like his character very much – in fact he reminds me of Jeremy fron TVD, if you watch that – but he definitely deserves to have a larger role in the series. Great review, Lyn!

    • Blythe, you always say something that really makes my day. You are so right – Team Clara is the best. Girls should have the right to chose the best person from them, not for me.
      I am making my sister read without bathroom breaks right now. I think she is halfway through.

  6. Great review! I felt more or less the same when I finished Hallowed. I loved the development Christian got, and after this one, like you, I was leaning more to his side. And good point about Jeffrey. It really is sad how he’s used like a tool. He does get a bit more screentime in Boundless, and some revelations concerning him and his purpose are made, but it’s still a character that could have been so much more interesting…

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