I received this for review a few months ago, and I barely managed to keep myself from reading it right away. I started this on Saturday morning and, no surprise, finished it Saturday night. I have a very busy munchkin to keep track of all day, so I squeezed every available minute that day to read the book. Ever make fake trips to "use the restroom", when all you're really doing is carving out ten minutes of peace and quiet to find out what happens next? That was me on Saturday. My hubs officially thinks I'm nuts and that possibly something is medically wrong with me, but I finished the book and it was SO worth every uncomfortable minute. Now to write a review without blurting out all the spoilers, even though I desperately want to...
The uncertainty that Clara felt at the end of Unearthly carries over into this second novel, and we (both Clara and the reader) are still confused and worried about what really should have happened that day in the fire. Clara had been preparing for months for that one particular moment with Christian, but in the end she chose her heart over her purpose and no one seems to know what the consequences of her decision will be. The summer is now over and Clara is starting her senior year, which means she must also focus on regular human things like homework and college applications. The one bright spot in her life is her amazing and ruggedly handsome boyfriend, Tucker (swoon!). They managed to come through the end of the summer events still together, though their relationship now has a few shadows.
Clara has been having new visions and as each dream gives her more clues as to what is going to happen, she confides in Christian and he helps her discover the meaning. Someone close to Clara is going to die, and while Clara knows the when, she's not sure on the who and she looks deeper to see if she can do anything to prevent it. Clara and Christian become a lot closer in this book, and we see a side of Christian we weren't able to see in the first book. Clara is struggling to deny the strength of their bond, wanting to know why it's so important and why anyone would care who she chooses to love.
Hallowed is primarily character driven, and there isn't great forward movement in the plot. Some of our questions are answered, and Clara's mom finally lets go and reveals everything she keeps hidden, but we are still in the dark about Clara's purpose is supposed to be. I found that I didn't give two hoots about the plot movement, and that the magnificent character development was more than enough for me. Hallowed is one giant emotional struggle for Clara. She is madly in love with Tucker, but is starting to recognize all of their differences and that maybe love isn't enough. She and Christian are meant to be together, and as he opens up and shows her what a great guy she is, she has a hard time not leaning on him for strength and support. She has no idea what her purpose is, what's going to happen because of her actions that night in the fire, and is worried about what path her future is going to take.
And the death. Grab your box of tissues friends, because you are going to need it. I was not expecting the "who" to be who it was. The death is a big part of the novel, and it's tragic and heart breaking. This person didn't die immediately, it was a slow progression and I imagine that's what it must be like for someone who has a loved one dying of cancer. I felt completely useless during the whole last half of the book. All I could do was cry, and heck if I didn't do that well.
My Summary: When I finished reading Hallowed, I felt gutted. I felt like I was the one with the hole in my heart instead of Clara. That, my friends, is some incredible talent from the author. The story still hasn't let me go, and it's two days later and I've read another book since then. Unearthly was good, but Hallowed is excellent and I can only imagine what quality Cynthia Hand is going to bring in the third book. My hats off to you Ms. Hand, Hallowed was simply amazing.
My Rating: A+