Thursday, February 14, 2013

Review: Boundless by Cynthia Hand

* This review may contain spoilers for the previous two books, Unearthly and Hallowed. *

Boundless by Cynthia Hand
Boundless (Unearthly #3)
By Cynthia Hand
Publisher:
HarperTeen

To Sum It Up:

Clara is now a student at Stanford University, having left Wyoming—and Tucker—behind. Angela and Christian are also enrolled at Stanford, where they and Clara are adjusting to their new lives, just like their human classmates. Even at college, though, the three angel-bloods cannot forget what they are and the responsibilities that come with their otherworldly lineage. All signs, including Clara’s latest visions, seem to indicate an impending showdown with the Black Wings. When it happens, Clara only hopes that she’ll be prepared to fight to save not only those she cares about but possibly herself as well.

Review:

You know that feeling you get after reading the incredible finale of a beloved series? The "I Can’t Believe It’s Over!" sadness mixed with the "That Was Such an Amazing Read!" euphoria? That was how I felt once I’d finished Boundless, and I don’t believe I’ll be recovering any time soon.

This was everything the last book in a series should be, at least in my opinion. Boundless held me transfixed and wondering until the very last few pages how everything was going to end. I’m serious: I kept an extremely nervous eye on how many pages remained as the story reached a point that threatened to leave a permanent indentation on the side of my face from pressing my palm so tightly against it. As much of a roller coaster ride as reading this was, I appreciated how the book’s intensity served a purpose and was relevant to everything that had happened in the previous two books. It wasn’t amplified just for the sake of sending off the final book with a bang. I had some unanswered questions heading into Boundless, especially about Samjeeza, the Black Wing (i. e. not-so-nice angel) who’s always seemed a tad obsessed with Clara’s mother. Let me say that I am in awe of how Cynthia Hand tied together all of the threads of the story that she'd been building since Unearthly.

I also give Hand a hearty round of applause for writing such a great protagonist like Clara, to whom I took a liking from the very beginning. She’s grown so much over the course of the series and faces some of her toughest challenges yet in Boundless. She’s caught between the two facets of her life: the part that wishes she could enjoy life like any normal human girl her age would, and the angelic part that entails some heavy responsibilities. Clara the College Student considers enrolling in Stanford’s premed program while Clara the Angel takes lessons in wielding a glory sword. In addition, she worries about what’s become of her younger brother, Jeffrey, since he took off, what’s going on with her suspiciously secretive friend, Angela, what her recent and unnerving visions mean, and let’s not forget about the Is Christian My God Appointed Soulmate question. Oh, and she feels horribly guilty about letting Tucker go and breaking his heart, but with the Black Wings looking to add her to their ranks, she couldn’t bear to expose Tucker to the danger looming over her. Whew. That’s a lot for even a powerful angel-blood to handle, and Clara has to deal with all of it without being able to turn to the person who always comforted her, her mother. Through all of the turmoil, though, Clara manages to avoid becoming a self-pitying whiner. Her choices aren’t always the wisest, and she made plenty here that made me want to yell at her. I could never stay angry with her, however, because she’d already admitted that she’d made a gigantic mistake. And that is why I love her as a heroine.

I’ve never cared for Angela. She’s supposed to be Clara’s friend, but her jealousy of Clara, bossiness, and smug, know-it-all attitude always struck me as unappealing qualities to have in a friend. But even I felt sorry for Angela this time. She gets in so far over head that no matter what you thought of her before, you want to see her pull through. I’ve also never been a big fan of Clara’s brother, Jeffrey, yet he, too, earned my sympathy. You discover how much failing to fulfill his purpose has affected him, and it’s quite sad. When I realized the depth of his despair, I felt bad about viewing him as a snotty punk before. Thanks to what turns out to be some excellent foreshadowing in the previous novels, neither Angela nor Jeffrey’s plight seems tacked on for dramatic effect; they are integral parts of the bigger picture. (For more insight into Angela’s story line, you might want to check out Radiant, a novella that takes place during her summer trip to Italy with Clara before they head off to Stanford.)

A telltale sign that you love a series to infinitesimal pieces is when you’re even okay with the guy whom you don’t want to see end up with the girl. That’s how it is with Christian. In Boundless, Hand makes her strongest case yet for how very, very good he would be for Clara. And Christian truly is a good guy, one who has his fair share of trials here. In any other book, he would have owned my heart, but see, I also have a soft spot in my heart for the underdog. Tucker doesn’t possess a single drop of angel blood, but I love him for just being Tucker: snarky, yet also honest, kind, and selfless. I hate YA love triangles, but this is one of the handful that I find tolerable because for a change, it’s not all about the female protagonist’s heartbreak. You get to see the emotional toll that it takes on the two males as well.

What also sets this triangle apart is its divine component. In the first book, Clara and Christian saw each other in their visions of their original purposes. This appeared to be a heavenly message that they were destined to be together. Although fate continues to be a motif in Boundless, I think this book focuses on choice more than either of the previous novels did. The idea of Clara choosing between Christian, the poster boy for destiny, and Tucker, the boy she chose to love, sounds like some sort of paradox to me. I’m fairly sure that this is one of the most philosophical love triangles I’ve ever read about!

Ultimately, Boundless was a thrilling, emotional, and very satisfying conclusion to the series. By “emotional,” I mean I may have cried a bit. By “a bit,” I mean I had to make a mad grab for the tissue box before tears rained all over the pages. In a book filled with memorable moments, what I’ll always think of is how Cynthia Hand ingeniously incorporated my favorite scene from Hallowed, which is also one of my favorite scenes from the entire series, into Boundless. That alone warranted a five star rating. I’m a sap for story arcs that come full circle, and this one was simply brilliant.

All in All:

Um, judging by the length of this review, I believe I’ve blathered on quite enough about this book. Just read the whole series if you haven’t yet, especially if other angel books haven’t worked out for you. This might be just the ticket.

6 comments:

  1. The more I read about this series (as a whole) the more I know I really should give it another go. I had book one and ended up quitting because I really liked Tucker and I was "certain" Christian would be the main LI and end up with Clara. I was getting tired of being on the wrong team for love triangles and stopped for the time, before later giving the book away. BTW, great review! :)

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    1. Yes, you should definitely give it another shot! My tolerance for love triangles in YA books keeps shrinking and shrinking, but I think this is one of the better written ones.

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  2. I just got the first book from the library :) Yay!

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    1. Awesome! I can't wait to hear what you think of it!

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  3. Wonderful and fitting review to an awesome series. So am I right to assume she went with Tucker?.if so then I say YAY!

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    1. This book was just phenomenal. I wish I could answer your question, but I don't want to spoil anything for anyone. I also wish the comment box would let me hide text so that it's only visible if someone highlights it and wants to peek at spoilers, but it won't. So, I hope you have the chance to catch up on the series very soon so we can discuss it!

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