9 February 2012

Review: Hallowed

'Hallowed' by Cynthia Hand
Series: ‘Unearthly’ #2
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Romance
Published:  January 2012
Pages: 403
My rating:  

The Blurb: For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought.
Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her 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. 

So, I just finished reading this, the tears are still on my cheeks, but I don’t want it to end. I want to read it again, now. Always. Somehow, Cynthia Hand was able to look straight into my heart. How is it possible she used the (almost) exact same words in her book, as my (now dearly departed) mother told me…?
'You and I have a connection that nothing, not on heaven or earth, or even hell, could ever break. If you want to talk to me, talk to me. I’ll hear you…'
Yes, this book touched me in a personal way because I have been through some of the things Clara Gardner went through. Which wouldn’t have been possible if Clara wasn’t such a strongly written character.

And characters are indeed one of the many strong aspects of this book (and its predecessor). More specifically: Clara Gardner. She’s a real teenage girl who makes mistakes, even if she is part angel.
She thinks for herself, tries to find the answers her mother won’t / can’t give her and she’s strong-willed (or stubborn, depending on which way you look at it…), for she’s willing to go against her purpose because of the love she feels for Tucker. Which may come across as selfish –you know, going against the Grand Design and all- but the way Cynthia Hand has written Clara, makes that choice totally understandable. 
The feelings she has for Tucker are so realistic, so pure, so natural you can actually feel them yourself. It's hard not to love a guy like Tucker, who is the perfect boyfriend, without being too good to be true. Still, Clara doubts herself, knowing it’s not right. Knowing Tucker should have died in that forest fire. When the moment comes that Clara realises her new vision is about the death of someone close to her, I myself could almost feel the slap she got in her face. Later on, when she finds out (through the ever curious Angela Zerbino) that she was wrong and someone else’s life is at stake, it broke my heart even more. The way she felt was painfully lifelike, the zombie-state she went in, because I have been in that place myself, alas. (Here, the staccato-writing style works marvellous.)

The absence of certainty’ could be the motto of Clara’s life, she thinks, when she hears Christian say those words. But amidst the craziness that is her life, Clara still manages to maintain her wits:
‘I’m having an argument with myself. And I’m losing. So not a good sign.’
Slowly, the mystery surrounding Christian Prescott, (the part-angel boy who apparently shared Clara’s initial vision) gets resolved. Again, naturally paced, because of Clara’s aversion of being in his presence at first, and the awkward conversations they have. Finally a sensible (okay, that fact is open for discussion when it comes to many other things, but in this case…) girl who admits memorizing the facts and physique of some boy doesn’t mean you know him.
‘Every time I see him I’m struck by the fact that I don’t know actually know him. In spite of all the conversations we’ve had, the time we’ve spent in Angel Club together, the way I memorized practically every detail about him last year like some obsessed little Mary Sue, he’s still a mystery to me. He’s still that stranger who I only get glimpses of.’ 
As time goes by, Clara and Christian do become closer, forced by circumstances, based on friendship, the chemistry (still) existing between them and their joined purposes.

And finally Jeffrey, Clara’s younger brother, gets a bigger part. You can feel his change throughout the book, it makes you wonder what’s going with him and why. (Besides the obvious.) He’s been  written incredibly life-like, the way he copes with life: his anger and his denial, the way he takes off; they’re all things I recognize from my own brother. Once his purpose is revealed, it all starts to make more sense.

Another surprise is the truth concerning Clara’s dad… Which, I won’t spoil of course. But the feelings surrounding him…

I want to mention a passage/ ‘event’ which surprised me enormously and filled me with joy, awe and warmth, it made me feel a bit overwhelmed even, like the time when Harry Potter visited the International Quidditch Finals. An original idea, totally fitting the story, adding more atmosphere to it. ‘Glorious’. The angelic details are certainly present, but not overwhelming. There's room for a real story, but still room for the supernatural background. Cynthia Hand found a way to create a perfect balance between all the elements in this book: plot/story, paranormal elements, romance, humor, character depth and growth: every ingredient is mixed together in this perfect 'Hallowedblend

There are some fun references to popular things happening nowadays, which will no doubt make this now-contemporary read, a fun retro book to read many years from now. For example, there’s an amusing comparison to Edward’s midnight gawk/stalk sleeping Bella sessions.
Also there’s a comparison of which I kinda assume it’s an ‘ode’ to one of the best TV-shows ever, where Clara borrows the epic words Angela Chase in ‘My So-called Life’ once uttered as the words she would want to hear when having sex for the first time:
‘He’s beautiful, so crazy beautiful it almost hurts to look at him--’
The initial pace of the book is slow-(ish). Yes, there are many things happening, but they are all easy to follow. The writing style is mostly fluent, though sometimes a bit too staccato to my liking. A bit childish perhaps. Not very poetic. Sometimes I’m annoyed by the lack in sentence variation, other times I’m pleasantly surprised by lengthy sentences.

That is, however, the only negative thing I have to say about ‘Hallowed’. It was better and more intense than ‘Unearthly’. It started out sweetly and slowly, but got so much deeper in an emotional way. The story swallows and envelopes you, in a bitter sweet embrace. Much like the moment you know you’re sharing your last painful kiss with a lover you don’t want to leave, but have to anyway. Crushing.


I want more.


(Somehow, 'Happy Reading' doesn't fit now...)

No comments:

Post a Comment

You're amazing, thanx for your input! :)