I was so pleasantly surprised when I read Unearthly by Cynthia Hand; in a sea of young adult paranormals, that one rose to the top with its superior writing, engaging characters, believable narration, and quick paced plot. So I was eagerly looking forward to its sequel, Hallowed, though of course I was a little nervous because we all know about the follow ups that just don't measure up.
Relax. This one's as good as the first, if not better.
Hallowed follows our heroine, Clara, through her senior year of high school. Clara's got the perfect boyfriend (Tucker! What a dream!), a couple of good friends who are also angel-bloods (Christian and Angela), and a close knit family, but there's still plenty of turmoil with the threat of Samjeeza, the evil Black Wing, still there and Clara's doubts over her failed purpose continuing to gnaw at her. Though her mother is beginning to share more of her secrets about being an angel, Clara is still frustrated; she knows there's more to all this and she's anxious. Add in the usual angst about going to college, and leaving your boyfriend, and you have a story that is both engaging and realistic, even if we are talking angels here. It's one flaw is the pacing at times seems a bit slow, at least in perhaps the first third.
The true beauty of this book, however, comes after Clara and her brother learn a disturbing revelation about their eager, vivacious mother, and it's there that the story picks up steam and tears at the heart strings. Clara has to be strong while her world collapses; she faces the awful truth with just the perfect amount of dread, denial, and depression. It's here that the big revelations come and they are huge; it's here that Clara must grow up unwillingly, face the Black Wing, and make decisions that will come with huge costs.
Ms. Hand does an outstanding job of pulling the reader into Clara's thoughts through her first person narrative, so much so that I could feel what she was experiencing with every word. The emotions are strong but Clara is stronger. This is a series that is well thought out and truly well written, and I'm hooked. Highly recommended.