Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Boundless (Unearthly #3) by Cynthia Hand

Title: Boundless (Unearthly #3)
Author: Cynthia Hand
Published: January 22nd 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
My rating: 3 stars
The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfil her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.

Finally, after days undergoing the five stages of loss and grief, (Uhmm, I think I still haven't gotten that close to the fifth step) I'm calm enough to form some coherent thoughts and explanations about what I think of this final book of the Unearthly series. This still has some major ranting but I really did try to be objective here. So here we go. 

Spoilers ahead.

After reading this I have to say that this series will always be one of my most favorite angel books even if it cause quite a major heartache on me (later on that). Each aspects of the story - the character developments, the emotional depths, the plot line and the world-building were just fantastic! I finished this in one day, I couldn't really put it down. I adored almost every part of it. And Hand's writing is definitely exceptional especially since she never failed to reach me in an emotional level that mostly only contemporary books could do. I felt the hurt, the love, the regrets, the happiness, the loss, the acceptance in each of every characters. Despite its paranormal setting the emotional situations were very realistic. The development of the characters and their relationships (especially the parental love) was something I have to give Hand a very great credit for. It was wonderful and full of profound and poignant insights. 

However as much I loved almost everything about it there is this one aspect, a pretty big aspect in this book that I think Hand wasn't able to completely handle very well: the romance. The reason that left me feeling conflicted, unsettled and hurt after finishing the story. 

I am on the other team. Yes, the team whom Clara didn't choose. But I am not complaining because of her choice or more likely, Hand's choice. What made me disappointed and sad was the way it was handled. I have encountered countless stories with love-triangles, may it be a novel, a movie, a tv series, an anime or manga but never did I feel so bitter and broken than I had in Boundless. I could be really accepting and understanding if convinced, if it gave me reasons to believe that it has to be this guy and not the one I want. However that's where the problem in Boundless came. Hand failed to convince me and make me believe that Clara did the right decision by choosing Tucker but successfully and completely sold me to the idea of Clara and Christian together (and it isn't just me but a whole lot of readers too). 

The first question that popped out on my mind after reading this was what was all that about then? Hand took a lot of time polishing, emphasizing and building up Clara and Christian's relationship in this novel. And that's what I wish she never did. 'Cause you see what was the point if in the end it they wouldn't be together? (Unless Hand plans to write something about them like 80 years later). What's worse was that she actually made a great job with it, it was very convincing that personally I think even the Tucker fans could accept the idea of Clara and Christian. And that if she went straight in that direction I can see that she'd be able to pull it off and make a really wonderful conclusion.  

I wish she didn't make Christian a very great guy, always so supportive and understanding. I wish she didn't make Christian say all those wonderful words of adoration and love. I wish she didn't make him the perfect hero for Clara. Because seriously, all of it were pretty pointless when I reached the ending. I don't get why she has to do that. Look, I don't have a problem with Tucker. He was a great and wonderful character too, it was just that I wish Hand put a lot of more effort in him, in making me see that he had greater connection to Clara and that he was indeed her "home" so at least my heart, my poor, fragile heart wouldn't have been too hopeful and confident. 

In the end, more questions just arose in me. More notably is What really is Christian to Clara? Her assistant? Her freaking sidekick? Someone who'd lend her power? Her personal body guard? Well, I sound bitter on that but I just can't help it. Clara and Christian had a really strong and firm connection. Putting everything together from the first book to Boundless, it just didn't make any sense. With the way everything turned out and with that convenient twist in the last part it seems really unfair for Christian. He went from being a very major character, a very essential one to someone who wasn't even present on the supposedly "happy" epilogue. 

While I enjoyed most part of this book I can't say that I was satisfied with how things turned out. At some point, during those days I was processing what I really feel about this book I wanted to shout that this book is a freaking tease! Haha! Or maybe it really is. The ending did blow in my face like a sucker punch. I wish Hand could come up with another novel or even a novella just to explain everything and hopefully could give us our much needed closure. 

*Initial Thoughts After Reading*

I wouldn't question the brilliant level of poignancy and profundity in this book. I was touched and moved in so many ways while reading this. The emotional depth of this story was just plain wonderful and  downright amazing. However, I couldn't help feeling some qualms and apprehensiveness about the authenticity and the naturalness of the things that happened around the last parts of the book (yeah, I'm talking about the romance). It left me conflicted and had me questioning what were the purpose of some things. Like, what were all those build-up and convincing (from a lot of characters actually) for? It makes me think that they were pretty pointless with how things turned out. So you see, I really have this one big question popping out of my head after reading this book. 
So what was all THAT for?
To those who've read this you know what I'm referring to. And I'm being pretty objective here. I really like this story and I consider this one of my most favorite angel-book. It's just hard not to wonder why the sudden left turn when more than half part of the book is pushing and taking us in a straight direction? And because of that the last part kinda felt a little forced for me. *sigh* I really don't know if I'm making sense. But yeah, I guess I need to process thoroughly everything out first.



    Excuse my shouty capitals.

  2. I know exactly how you feel Eunice, Christian's character did really shine in this book, I hated the way he was just disregarded in the end, after everything him and Clara had done together. I still enjoyed this book, maybe a bit more than you, but if I was on Team Christian, I think I would have crushed just like you were. I hope we get another novella or something it would be great to get inside Tucker or even Christian's head. Sorry you were let down by the ways things turned out *hugs*

  3. I think a lot of people will be able to relate to your feelings, Eunice! Although I have always preferred Tucker to Christian, I completely understand why you are frustrated and hurt over the way things ended. When you have to resolve something as big as the love triangle in these books, it has to be convincing for all fans, and not just those who are on the correct team, as you say. I'm sorry it didn't quite satisfy in that regard. :( But brilliant review!

  4. I totally agree with all of your points and I'm a Tucker fan! I wasn't happy with how all this took place. *sigh* Poor Christian! All the focus was on him and Clara the entire book and then he was tossed aside as barely a footnote in the end. My least favorite book in the series. :(

  5. OMG, EUNICE! I love your enthusiasm and energy for this series. <3 I read the first book, but I got kinda bored with the second for some reason. :( But I'll have to pick it up again because of your fab review! :D TEAM TUCKER DEFINITELY. I feel bad for Christian, but Tucker stole my heart the day he took Clara fishing. :') Lovely review, doll! :D

  6. Hahaa, I love your first sentence! 5 stages of grief and loss...
    This series failed to impress me when I first read it almost 2 years ago, and while I don't plan to read the 2nd or 3rd book, I've been reading spoilers and reviews and have a pretty good idea about what happened after I stopped reading. The points you mentioned are exactly how so many people are feeling right now. I was rooting for Christian and Clara too (although honestly I wasn't enamoured with either guy!) I personally think Hand crafting, polishing and *perfecting* Clara's relationship with both guys was what made the love triangle so appealing in the first place. I mean, had I read the book, I probably would think it was so useless making Christian so understanding and building up their relationship and everything, only to throw him off to the sidelines. But I think that had Hand never made Christian like a potential match and stealing the hearts of so many readers, some people may say "What was the point of the love triangle? It's obvious Clara's going to end up with Tucker, so why bother having Christian as a potential suitor as well? Why, for drama sake?"
    Sorry for such a long comment! I just...have a lot to say when it comes to this series even if I stopped reading it :/ Anyway, brilliant review Eunice<3 I'm really glad you still liked the story!!! :)

  7. Ohhh Eunice. Your sadness and disappointment is all over this review. I am also on the other team, so this book made me horribly sad for him--and I was so disappointed in Clara, too! Argh. :(

    Your review is so spot on, though--I don't understand some of the choices that were made, or the way things were handled. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the series as a whole, and the main story arc was still really well done. But the way this love triangle was resolved really disappointed me. I'm sorry it disappointed you, too.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden


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