Hallowed - Cynthia Hand "Don't be sorry. It's part of who you are. You shouldn't have to apologize for who you are"

Clara saved Tucker from the fire in Unearthly and helped her mother fight Samjeeza, but there are other problems. Clara didn't fulfill her vision. And now she's seeing visions of a funeral, feeling the presence of Samjeeza, and learning some startling facts about her own angelic heritage. What will happen now that Clara has disobeyed her purpose? Who will die and can she prevent it? And what will she do about Christian?

NOTE: Possible spoilers! I will try my absolute hardest not to spoil the major revelations, but the teeny ones may escape me.

As soon as I finished Unearthly, about a year ago, I've been eager to read the sequel. Unearthly was a rare YA angel book: great characters, interesting mythos, and a romance that actually involved the couple knowing and falling in love with each other. So pretty much as soon as I could get my hands on it, I bought Hallowed and dived in.

The results? A very pleased girl, eager for Book 3.

Hallowed picks right up where Unearthly left off. Hand does a bit of recapping, but just enough to remind us what we read a year ago. Immediately, things start happening. Clara gets visions of a new future, a future where someone dies. But there is also the strange activities of her brother, Jeffrey, the behavior of her mother, Angela's investigation into the history of angels. And of course, Samjeeza is always a threat on the horizon.

Our characters haven't changed from book 1. Clara is still an awesome girl, Tucker is charming and adorable, Clara's mom proves to have a fascinating history and still be a solid presence in Clara's life, Christian really evolved before my eyes, and Angela remains a good friend for Clara. I was upset at how infrequently Wendy appeared. Samjeeza could be pretty corny at times, but even he had some developments that elevated him from stereotypical baddie. Some new characters crop up. Billie, Clara's Mom's friend, was pretty cool (though it was odd that the kids hadn't met her sooner. We also meet Clara's dad and find out he isn't human, but an Intangere. Interesting development, one that had been hinted at in the previous book...but I have some comments on this that will come later.

What is probably going to be most predominant, and the dealbreaker for many a reader, will be the love triangle. While Unearthly teased with the concept, this book definitely dives headfirst, going so far as to hang a lampshade to the plot device:

"Before I moved here, I never got the whole love-triangle thing. You know, in movies or romance novels or whatnot, where there’s one chick that all the guys are drooling over, even though you can’t see anything particularly special about her. But oh, no, they both must have her. And she’s like, oh dear, however will I choose? William is so sensitive, he understands me, he swept me off my feet, oh misery, blubber, blubber, but how can I go on living without Rafe and his devil-may-care ways and his dark and only-a-little-abusive love? Upchuck."

In this book's defense, the Love Triangle is handled better than I've seen in most other media (books, movies, etc.). Clara and Christian remain friends, but as Clara is with Christian, she realizes not all of her thoughts to him are "just friends". Meanwhile, Clara pulls back from Tucker, believing he will die. This is the most realistic portrayal of "moving on" in a relationship. Most other YA books would just throw up two guys--sometimes not even that much different from each other--and say, "OH NO, how can our super speshul girl choooooose?"

That said...must we rely on the Love Triangle plot line at all? Why can't Clara just struggle with the vision and Samjeeza? Why does her purpose have to rely on a boy at all?

The next point that I kinda have some problems with concerns some revelations Clara finds out about her history and her mom's history. Turns out, Clara isn't a Quartarius; she's Triplare. Add to the specialness that already comes with being angel-blood, Triplares are super-rare, super-speshul angels that have the ability to exert free-will. I don't have a problem with her being a Triplare, but I can't help rolling my eyes how she is now "super rare and super speshul", even more than an "ordinary" angel blood.

Finding out who was going to die and actually going through the person's death was truly heart-breaking. Hand doesn't pick some random person; the astute can probably already guess who it is. But that doesn't soften the blow. And Clara's reaction to that death is completely understandable and relatable.

Hallowed is an amazing follow-up to Unearthly, one that didn't disappoint me in the slightest. The characters are great, we finally get some answers to the questions that have been burning (and somehow, the purpose problem I had with Unearthly was cleared up here--either that, or it didn't bug me anymore), and important stuff happens. The only reason I held back the final star (actually probably half star) is because of some of the later revelations and definitely the Love Triange (though, like I said above, it is very well-done). If you loved Unearthly and don't mind testing out the Love Triangle, you will not be disappointed in Hallowed.