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)[ when she realizes that her mom is close to death. Books like The Goddess Test could really take a few tips from the simple, yet moving way in which the death of Clara's mom was handled, the peaceful passing followed by the hope of a better afterlife, and the numb disbelief of those who are left behind. (hide 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)[I think I would have sympathized a little more with Clara's struggle to choose if I had ever felt like she gave her relationship with Tucker a fair chance. From the very beginning of this book, there is a sense of doom hanging around this relationship; if Clara loved Tucker as much as she says she does, why doesn't she fight harder? She never confronts Christian, or makes him go away in any real sense. See, there is a big difference between telling someone to get the hell out of your life because you're in love with someone else, and passively ignoring them while they spend a gazillion hours outside your window, playing the noble guy. (hide 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)[ So Angela tells her she's seen Clara at Stanford in her vision, and Clara just accepts it? No doubts, no fighting her destiny, just acceptance? And the way she never really makes a push to find out what's eating Jeffrey? This is not the girl I thought I knew. (hide 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. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>