Vinaya's Reviews > Hallowed

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
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Jan 16, 2014

liked it
bookshelves: arc-galley, book-schizophrenia, books-i-ought-to-love-but-dont, disappointed-me, mixed-vibes, not-for-me, romance, ya-fantasy, what-the-eff
Read from November 04 to 06, 2011

I hate love triangles. More than anything else in fiction, I really, really, REALLY hate love triangles. More than the stalking and the insta-love and fragile, insecure, yet perfect heroines. I mean, at least with most insta-love couples, once they're in love, they STAY in love.

So anyway, it's not that much of a surprise that Hallowed sort of killed my happy Unearthly-buzz. This book was nothing like what I expected it to be, and I can only rue the change. Cynthia Hand did an amazing, wonderful thing with Unearthly, and somehow, it feels like she undid all of that work with Hallowed. That said, though, if I DO have to read about love triangles, this was one of the better-handled ones.

I reread Unearthly before I started on Hallowed, and I was struck anew by how much I enjoyed the book. The writing was simple but real, with occasional flashes of humor and the sort of likeability that only deepens with a second read. And more importantly, despite being a very relationship-focused story, it did have a plot and a certain amount of character growth and action. Hallowed feels less like a complete book in and of itself and more like a long-drawn out episode on daytime television. "My life is a soap opera," Clara says, and it turns out to be all too true.

Here's the reason why Hallowed disappointed me so much, I want to cry. Most YA paranormals push the idea of a soulmate, that one person who's just so perfect for you, you feel like you want to die if you can't be with him. The connection is so strong, and perfect, but you know what, it's not real. And it's this idea that Clara fights back against, in Unearthly, and she does it beautifully. She falls in love, for real, with someone who's hot, but not picture perfect, someone whom she actually knows- she makes the choice to fall in love with Tucker and I think that's the reason that little book resonated so strongly with so many of us. It wasn't some fated, pre-destined epic love, but something so warm and achingly sweet, we all wanted to be seventeen and in love again.

Not so much Hallowed. Yes, sure, Clara still fights her "attraction" to Christian, feeling that she is more than a pawn in some supernatural game, but it feels more like she's fighting an inevitable current, like the choice she made was worth nothing, because she is being pushed back to the place she tried so hard to escape from, and if that's the case, what's the point in that, really?

As for Christian, I'm still not seeing the attraction. I mean, sure, we find out more about him, his life, his circumstances, but at the end of the day, he's still that YA sap, the beautiful-looking, perfect one who's willing to sit for hours under some girl's roof waiting for her to give him time of the day. In Hand's world, he's an anomaly. He never seems quite as real a all the other people, the ones for whom the world is NOT well lost for love.

And so much of this book was just angst of various sorts. Some it was understandable. For example, I really, felt Clara's pain (view spoiler)

But I felt like the spotlight focused so heavily on Clara, and her internalizing of every emotion she felt, her thoughts, her motivations, her struggle against all the changes in her life, that pretty much everything else in the book took a backseat. The connection I felt between Clara and Tucker in the first book never manifested itself in the second. (view spoiler)

And don't even get me started on Jeffrey and Angela and Wendy. Who are these people? I thought I knew them back in Unearthly, but they don't get so much as a cameo in Hallowed. Angela had this whole cool, creepy vibe going in the first book, but she's no more than an accessory in the second, and not a very interesting one at that. Jeffrey, of course, drops a bombshell on us at the very end, one that really had me sitting up and paying attention, but for most of the book he's just this sullen shadow that Clara pays a bare minimum of attention to. I think the thing that annoyed me most with Clara in this book is how very helpless she turns out to be. (view spoiler) And Wendy might as well have not been in the book for all the role she plays. Disappointing, disappointing, disappointing.

I'm not saying this is a bad book, because it's really not. Cynthia Hand has a great hand (get it?!) with characterization, and as usual her closing chapter is beautiful and leaves you longing for more. The thing is, I had higher expectations for this book, I wanted it to be strong and fierce and unique, and it fell far, far short of that mark. I will be reading the third book, and any books that come after that, but if Hand fails to recapture the magic of Unearthly, I for one, am going to a very unhappy camper.
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Reading Progress

11/04/2011 "ZOMG SO HAPPY! *squeeeeee*"
11/04/2011 "Should I re-read Unearthly first? I should? Yes, I definitely should..." 1 comment
01/16/2014 marked as: currently-reading
01/16/2014 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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message 1: by rameau (new)

rameau Hadn't I read the first book and thought of that blurb an accurate description of quality inside, I'd run away like the wind.

Steph Sinclair Looking forward to your reivew, Vinaya!

message 3: by Jen (new)

Jen Eesh, I also hate love triangles. There are a few series I will never read more of because the blurbs reek of love triangle.

I was working on a story that had two love interests, but the goal was to make the three of them one working unit, not to have the normal drama thing going on.

message 4: by Kyndall (new) - added it

Kyndall did you get an arc or an early release copy? your three stars don't bode well for me with this sequel :(

message 5: by Becky (new)

Becky Ugh. I'm really not sure if I want to read this book. Generally, love triangles seem too easy to screw up. Yes, they're occasionally done well, but too often they're just a lazy way of adding tension and conflict.

And really, I LIKED Tucker. He seemed so much more interesting than Christian...*sigh*

message 6: by rameau (new)

rameau I don't really care about how good it is compared to other paranormal young adult novels. I expected more from Unearthly and I don't have any wish to be disappointed by Hand again. Now, unless you tell me the third book is worth all the pain and heartache, I won't be reading this.

message 7: by AH (new) - rated it 4 stars

AH Great review, Vinaya. You said exactly what I wanted to say. I wondered about Angela - wasn't she hanging out with some scary characters in Italy in the previous books? Then - nothing mentioned of it in this book.
This book just didn't have the greatness of the previous book.

message 8: by Mariya (new)

Mariya Great Review! And now I"m gonna be scared to read it now!

Nina I felt like crying the whole time reading it. The love triangle really ruined it for me.

Roxanne This book was such a let down :( I loved book one because Clara doesn't play the selfish girl who leads on two guys...I couldn't have been more disappointed with it.

message 11: by Nina (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nina I'm totally with you, Roxanne! Plus I kind of hoped we were done with the love triangle.
Plus, Tucker felt more like a side character and I hated that!

Zeynep You nailed my feelings about this book. I don't think I could have expressed it any better.

message 13: by Becky (new)

Becky All the negative reactions have sealed the deal for me: I'm not going to be reading this book. It's too bad Hand had to go this route, there was so much promise in Unearthly.

Jennifer I completely agree! I still haven't even written my review because I was just so upset I didn't know what to say. All the directions the book took upset me. I was so happy with direction of Unearthly and then Hallowed just went the opposite way.

Pricky Great review. Thanks for putting into words the conflict I felt with this one: the whole predestination feel with Christian; I sort of felt like Jeffrey a lot of the time: angry and upset and not really making sense of "purpose."

message 16: by Maru (new) - added it

Maru I haven't read this book, but I just finished Unearthly and had to run to read some reviews for this book because I had a feeling, having read my share of YA books, that I wouldn't like where Hand would take the love triangle next. Your review confirms all my worse fears. Like you, I hate love triangles. I even make a point of STAYING AWAY from books that have them, because I can't take it (of course that seriously limits the possibilities seeing as love triangles are the plague of YA books). I read Unearthly anyway because of the good reviews, but I knew something like this was going to happen if they kept pushing the love triangles and ugh, now I don't even feel like reading it. I despise love triangles, I seriously don't think I would be able to get through it. Especially because I'm really attached to Clara and Tucker's relationship after Unearthly and if there is one thing I can't stand is when a love triangle ruins a couple I like, it has happened way too many times, and it just makes the characters weaker!!! AHHHHHH.

Anastasia I would sign under each and every word of this review.thank you Vinaya that you put as I thought)) my thoughts into so perfect words

Rebecca T I'm kind of in awe of how well you've just put my thoughts into words. I completely, 110% agree with this entire review. I'll be picking up the last book just to see how it goes, but I feel so insanely let down right now I don't know when I'll get around to it...

Giota Bourha Couldn’t possibly have put it better! Those were my thoughts exactly!

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