Unearthly / Hallowed / Boundless by Cynthia Hand
Release Date: January 2011 / January 2012 / January 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins | HarperTeen
Pages: 435 pages / 403 pages / 438 pages
Series: Unearthly Trilogy
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle ebook
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary of Unearthly (from Goodreads)
When Clara Gardner learns she’s part angel, her entire life changes. She now has a purpose, a specific task she was put on this earth to accomplish, except she doesn’t know what it is. Her visions of a raging forest fire and a mysterious boy lead her to a new high school in a new town but provide no clear instruction. 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 the boy in her vision and the boy in her life, 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?
Spoiler-Free Thoughts on Unearthly, Hallowed and Boundless
Instead of reviewing these books separately, I thought it made more sense for me to just share my my favorite and least favorite aspect of the series as a whole. I first purchased Unearthly over a year ago during a Kindle sale. And then it just sat there, waiting for me to finally read it. I'd open it every now and then, read a chapter, and then wonder why I bought it. Since my goal this year is to take control of my TBR, I decided it was finally time to knock it off my list. Once I got into the first book, I devoured the trilogy within about two weeks.
Unearthly starts off with our heroine, Clara Gardner, having a vision. She sees a fire and a boy, and that's all she knows. We then learn that she's part angel, and her vision is revealing her purpose. Angels are put on the earth to fulfill their purpose, so Clara and her mom and brother pack up and move to Colorado. Once there, Clara makes new friends and meets two boys, Christian and Tucker. And so begins the Unearthly series...
Least Favorite Aspect of the Series:
One of the main themes of this series is the battle between free will and destiny. I really enjoyed this dilemma, including how it came into play with the love triangle. Although Clara is attracted to both guys, one is "destined" to be with her and the other is more "chosen" by her.
In the first two books, the love triangle is handled really nicely. As a reader, you can see the appeal of both guys and Hand takes the time to really develop Clara's relationship with both of them. You get to see exactly what Clara likes about each guy, and they are definitely distinct and separate characters. The first two books avoided two common love triangle pitfalls: the "winner" wasn't obvious and it didn't feel like the triangle existed solely to provide conflict/drama. I loved what Hand created, and I was excited to see where it wen in the last book. Although I had a favorite guy, I liked both guys enough that I hated the thought that one would be hurt in the end. I had high hopes that Clara would handle the final decision with maturity and would treat both guys with the respect they deserved.
Sadly, in Boundless, everything I'd enjoyed about the love triangle was undone. Clara led both guys on, couldn't make up her mind, and was generally pretty wishy-washy. Honestly, girl was on my last nerve. She didn't treat either guy right, and I really got frustrated with the book because of that. It also seemed like much of the book stagnant as Clara waffled between the two guys. The other books felt more fast-paced and Clara existed outside of the triangle. In the last book, it seemed like the choice between the two guys just overwhelmed her character.
So, despite the good start, the love triangle was my least favorite and the most disappointing thing about this series. It's not even about who she chose because both guys were really well-developed, and I think you can understand her feelings for both. It's more about the decision process itself and the way it's handled. I start with my feelings about the love triangle because, to be honest, it ended up coloring my feelings for the whole series. While I loved certain aspects of the book, I think I'll be more hesitant to recommend these books now because of my frustration with Clara and how the series ended.
Favorite Aspect of the Series:
Well, that was depressing. Now let me spend a minute telling you about my favorite aspect of this series: the angel mythology. Hand has really developed the angel world, and she does a great job of introducing to this world and its rules.
Instead of just immediately explaining everything, she gives you bits and pieces of this world as you go along. I really loved that about these books because it gives you the feeling that there is always more to discover. You can really tell that Hand spent time thinking through how everything fit together, and that made this a really strong "angel" book (something I would typically avoid).
The free will versus destiny debate also corresponds with the aspect of the book that deals with an angel's purpose. In each book, Clara is having a different vision. I loved seeing her try to piece everything together and working to try and uncover what it is that she's supposed to do.
I particularly loved Hand's description and characterization of Black Wings, the fallen angels. One secondary Black Wing character, Samjeeza, ended up being my favorite character in the whole series. I would love to read a book dedicated just to him! I rarely say that about the "bad guy," but Sam was definitely a stand-out character for me.
From the different types of angels to the way hell is portrayed, I really enjoyed how this aspect of the series was developed. It would have been so easy for Hand to simply write a love story with angels, but I appreciated how there was so much more to these books. So, while the love triangle was frustrating, I'd still recommend these books for anyone looking for a really well-developed angel world!
"I've learned that a storm isn't always just bad weather, and a fire can be the start of something new. I've found that there are a lot more shades of gray in this world than I ever knew about. I've learned that sometimes, when you're afraid but you keep on moving forward, that's the biggest kind of courage there is. And finally, I've learned that life isn't really about failures and success. It's about being present, in the moment when big things happen, when everything changes, including yourself." - Hallowed