Boundless (Unearthly #3): review

January 14, 2013 2013, 4 star books, angels, cynthia hand, Wendy 80

boundless unearthly hallowed cynthia hand arcTitle: Boundless (Unearthly #3)
Author: Cynthia Hand
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Release Date:
January 22, 2013 

Publisher: Harper Teen
Age Group: Y
Source: ARC

This review is spoiler-free, and safe even if you haven’t read the first two books in the series. (But if you haven’t–sheesh, what are you waiting for?!)

After waiting for Boundless for so long, I was strangely nervous about reading it. When the package arrived, I literally hugged it for a full minute because I knew what was inside! All day long, I was scared to even peek at the first page, so it wasn’t until after midnight that I started the book. But my burning need to know how this incredible story ended kept me up through the night until I finally finished it at 4 in the morning.

This final installment in the Unearthly series picks up shortly after the novella Radiant, as Clara begins her freshman year at Stanford University. She’s trying to balance a normal life with her divine purpose as an Angelblood, even as her dreams are plagued by disturbing visions. Clara still feels the absence of those she loves, even though Angela and Christian are both there at school with her–and though her relationship with Tucker changed after Hallowed, she just can’t stop thinking about him. Every decision Clara makes now has an impact on her future, as well as the safety–and happiness–of those around her.

As always with this series, Boundless is beautifully written, and filled with humor, depth, and emotion. My favorite moments include: a walk among the redwoods; Clara learning to impart her glory to help others; training sessions with an important tutor; unexpectedly poignant interactions with the still-scary Samjeeza; the freedom and joy of flying; an arresting, despairing vision of hell; a slow-burning buildup to an exciting climax; and above all, a gorgeous moment high on a rock with someone she holds dear. I’ve also rarely seen parental love depicted in such a warm and loving way, and there are scenes here that clutched at my heart unbearably. I appreciate how full and busy and purposeful Clara’s life is; each activity she undertakes and each relationship she maintains is a formative part of her, but none of them define her as a person or as an angel. I wish more young adult novels took such care in showing this balance between life and love in a way that is so organic to the plot.

There are, however, some elements that leave me conflicted.  For me, it was a little too easy to guess who the traitor was; the pacing in the middle of the book felt a bit uneven and left me at odds with the romantic developments; and I thought Clara’s relationships with both Tucker and Christian relied a bit too much on our past history and knowledge of what has come before. I went into this book loving both boys and feeling that no matter what choice Clara makes, I would feel okay with it because I thought it would feel right. And in some ways, that’s still true–I think most readers will be satisfied with how this complicated entanglement is resolved. But because there is so much back and forth in this book as Clara is pulled between her feelings, and because I struggle with how fair the conclusion might be to certain parties, I’m not sure that I am quite there yet in celebrating what occurs. (I’ll put more detail in spoilers in my GoodReads review/discussion thread if you’re curious.) Even though things wrap up pretty neatly here, I feel like I still need more closure, so I’m kind of hoping that the author writes a follow-up story one day. I can dream, right?

But love is a painful, complex, and ever-evolving thing, and the concerns of mere mortals don’t always apply when it comes to angels. Even with separation and danger and loss, there is a great deal of hope and promise for this indelible trio, as well as for Angela, and for Clara’s parents. There is so much love in these books in its many different forms, and I feel the glow of it long after I turn the last page.

Without a doubt, this is one of the best paranormal romance series ever written. Boundless by Cynthia Hand is a strong and satisfying conclusion to an incredible series that set a new benchmark for paranormal romance. The passionate discussions about the books speak to the strong emotions that these characters inspire, and I know that I am all the more enriched for having known them. While this particular book is bittersweet, my heart is certainly lifted by the promise of things to come.
This review also appears on GoodReads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

boundless unearthly cynthia hand blog tour

Boundless Tour Stop

We’re very pleased to part of the official Boundless Blog tour hosted by Mundie Moms! Last year’s epic interview with the author was so popular (you can read it here and here) that we had to take the opportunity to pepper her with questions again. Don’t miss our Q & A with Cynthia Hand on January 25th! We’re going to be chatting about Clara’s divine purpose, the author’s upcoming projects, and obviously fangirling over Tucker and Christian. We’ll also be giving away our ARC to one lucky winner! See you then.

80 Responses to “Boundless (Unearthly #3): review”


    I literally just finished this book a few minutes ago! it was such an emotional journey at times i felt it was too much. I now though how you feel about the love traingle, I felt the same way going into it but i didn’t get as much closure as I wish I had with it. I don’t know how to describe it without giving anything away to people on here! My emotions are just everywhere right now haha!

    Lily @

  2. Penny

    Amazing amazing review, Wendy.

    I started this book as soon as I got it from the UPS guy on Monday, and finished it yesterday. I had to sit and let it digest for a while because I had mixed feelings with how the ending came about. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that here? Don’t want to be spoilery at all.

    I also loved all the moments you listed, especially the time training with an important tutor, and I also agree with what you said about the book relying too much on history from the other books…

    I still think it’s one of the best YA Paranormal Romance series ever written too though!

    I really wish my friends would read it so I can talk their ears off about it. lol

  3. Karen

    I hate love triangles but I’ve heard this one that is written well. I might give it a shot since I can read the whole series at once. Soemtimes waiting a year for resolutions is what kills me.

    • Wendy Darling

      Well…it’s well written in the first two books, hah. I had some issues with what happens in this book, but you can certainly put some of that down to my loyalties to certain parties. ;) And yes, the beauty of reading a completed series is that you don’t have to wait!

  4. Heather Roddenberry

    Oh, I am dying to read this review, but I am going to wait (waiting to read Lauren’s too) until I get to read Boundless (so I’ll probably be back on like the 23rd because I expect I’ll be up LATE reading it in a single sitting!)

    I’m a relative latecomer to this series. I just picked up Unearthly a few days ago and have zoomed through Hallowed and Radiant in quick succession. I’m pretty much addicted at this point:)

    Love that you featured Golden as your cover of the week! Love that book (and cover!) SO VERY MUCH. have you read it, yet? Beautiful book:)

    • Wendy Darling

      I saw you speeding through the series on Twitter! You’re so lucky that you didn’t have to wait too long to see how this story concludes. Lauren and I were talking about this and curious how people who read them all back to back would react to the conclusion. Look forward to your review!

      Golden has a lovely cover! I haven’t read it yet, but I hope to.

  5. Sharon ObsessionwithBooks

    I think I just let out a sigh of relief when I read your rating & review :-) This is one of my favourite series & I’m so pleased to read it was a somewhat satisfying conclusion.

    I am so eager to read Boundless! I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds & to see who Clara chooses.

    A wonderful review!

    • Wendy Darling

      Ah, I can’t imagine ever going any lower with Cynthia Hand, Sharon. :) It’s one of my favorite series, too! I hope the ending satisfies you.

  6. Vegan YA Nerds

    I’m really surprised to hear good things about this series! I see the covers and roll my eyes because I am sick of the girls-in-big-dresses trend and assume that the books will be bad! So to find out they’re a good example of YA paranormal is surprising in a good way! I’m most impressed with the fact that Clara doesn’t give up her life for others, that she instead balances all her activities – that is something lacking in most YA PNR!

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh goodness, this is one of those series I can’t shut up about, Mands! I think all my friends are sick of me talking about it, hah. These books are definitely not anything like your stereotypical, shallow young adult PNR books–and where there are sometimes similarities, it often pokes gentle fun at itself. I will be watching to see if you give these a shot sometime. :)

  7. b_ls

    I have been waiting for this book a while as well. I am so excited for it to come out soon. But, like you I am also nervous about reading it. I love the story so much I don’t want to be let down by the last book. I liked your review but, I’m still nervous! I guess we will have to see when it comes out! Thanks for the great review!
    Brittany S

    • Wendy Darling

      Aw, try not to be so nervous! I know, I know, easier said than done. I sincerely hope you enjoy the book, Brittany. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Sam

    I am so excited to read this one! I need to know how it ends. I’ve read many angel books but none of them have done it for me, until this series. The only thing that I’m not looking forward to is Claras back and forth feelings towards the boys. I think I might end up sad for the character that it doesn’t work out for.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yeah, I don’t know if there’s another series in the paranormal romance category that really comes even close, Sam.

      As for the triangle, I’ll say to you what I say to everyone–just try to relax and enjoy the book! Easier said than done, I know. But it’s all been written and done, so the only thing you can do is appreciate the final leg of this journey. :) It’s been a wonderful ride.

  9. Lauren

    I completely agree with all those favorite moments, and this entire review actually. I’ve been working on mine and it goes off on a bit of a love triangle rant (while trying to stay spoiler free), but I also want to remember how much I’ve loved this series as a whole. I think I’ve gotten back there…as long as I block out some elements.

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m really looking forward to reading your review, Lauren. We’ve talked through so many things already, but I know you’re going to have even more insight in your analysis.

      It was definitely hard for me to sift through how I felt about the book as well, especially with trying to keep it spoiler-free! I’m glad you’re coming closer to enjoying the many wonderful things about the story again.

    • Lauren

      I’ve finally posted mine, and it is super long. But I’ve had a lot to say about this series in general, so I don’t feel too badly about that. I don’t want my mood over the last book to alter the perspective of my many friends who are reading it right now, so I put a warning up to discourage anyone from reading it who hasn’t finished the first two books yet. However, I do also talk about many things that I love about the series. I’ve really enjoyed talking about it with you! I love when others’ isight helps me to think more clearly about my own.

    • Wendy Darling

      I left a comment on your review Lauren, but I’d just like to say again how much I appreciate the honesty and fairness of that review. I’ve enjoyed talking to you about this book, too! And I look forward to seeing how you respond to that other series we talked about. Oh, and INFERNAL DEVICES, too. :)

  10. Ashley Rogers

    I have not read this series, but I have been trying to get my hands on it. A lot of my friends have said nothing but great things about it. Your review was great! It explained it just enough to not give it away! I AM DEF GOING TO TRY AND GET MY HANDS ON THIS SERIES NOW!

    • Wendy Darling

      Ohh, this is a must-read series if you like paranormal romances, Ashley! It’s really interesting to see how readers react to three books in different ways, but I think most people agree that as a whole, it’s exceptional. I’m so glad you’re going to give them a try. :)

  11. auroramoonskye

    This is making me highly angsty about not being able to read this book fast enough! I have until Tuesday…;) And Wendy, amazing review as usual! Only you could make me sob with anticipation with such a review. :D

    • Wendy Darling

      Aw, thanks Aurora! (Or should I call you Moonskye? both are lovely.) I am sort of nervous to see the reviews coming in also–I can predict how some people will react to it, but not others. Sincerely hope you enjoy. Even though I am sure there will be plenty of tears.

  12. starryeyedjen

    Finally got my review all typed up today — it will post in the morning — so I’m stopping by to see what you thought of the book. And of course I knew you’d love it. I’m gonna check out your discussion thread on GR…I don’t want to say much here for fear of spoiling things for your readers. But I need to discuss all these feelings I have!

    Your review is perfection, as usual, Wendy. Nearly as gorgeous as the book itself. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I can’t WAIT to read your review, Jen. And to read your interview with Cynthia next week, too!

      I’m so glad you finished and we are discussing on GoodReads–it is so hard to do it elsewhere without spoiling things for everyone else.

      And pish posh, that’s kind of you to say. But nothing could ever come close to really doing the series justice as a whole. *sigh*

  13. The Readingista

    I haven’t decided if I am going to read this. I kind of lost interest in the last book. Thanks for your as always informative review.

  14. Christy LoveOfBooks

    I have pretty much kept my distance from angel books for awhile now, but I’ve been REALLY wanting to read this series. You mentioned the redwoods.. where does this story take place? Because if it’s CA, then I AM going to read it soon.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yes please, Christy! The first two books take place primarily in Idaho, but the third one takes place in northern California.

      All the books have a terrific setting, though–there is winter camping, skiing, outdoorsy walks, etc. Perfect if you enjoy books with a sense of place.

  15. A Canadian Girl

    Don’t kill me; lol, I haven’t even read the first book yet … which is weird because I love angel novels. I think it’s because I’ve heard how awesome this series is and am worried that it won’t live up to the hype. I’ll try to read it sometime soon hopefully.

    • Wendy Darling

      What! *restrains self*

      I think it’s a wonderful series–and when you do get around to reading them (nudge nudge), I hope you will agree. :)

  16. Andrea @The Bookish Babes

    *gasp* I still haven’t read my copy of Unearthly. I’ve heard such wonderful things about the series, from all manner of readers. I’m sure everyone is on pins & needles to discover who wins Clara’s heart. I look forward to jumping in. I’m happy that you enjoyed Boundless, Wendy, despite the bumps. Great review!

    • Wendy Darling

      ANDREA. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe you haven’t read this series yet! I think you would LOVE it. Swoony boys, sweet romance, and awesome angel lore.

      And thank you–it’s bittersweet to have this wonderful series come to a close. *sigh*

  17. Lyn Kaye

    My poor sister….I let her borrow the first two books (Yes, I know – she read them before I did) and now she wants this RIGHT NOW.

    • Wendy Darling

      Just one more week for your sister! I hope she is satisfied with how the story concludes.

      As for you…

      *stares disapprovingly*

    • Wendy Darling

      Omg yes, read it please Savannah! It’s so hard to know all this aloooone. I only know one blogger who has read it and she hasn’t posted her review yet. Enjoy! :)

  18. Giselle @ Book Nerd Canada

    “But love is a painful, complex, and ever-evolving thing, and the concerns of mere mortals don’t always apply when it comes to angels.”

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this one Wendy. Out of all the angel books, this series was one of my faves. THAT is why I read these paranormal romances. It’s all about the love. It sounds like it was a strong conclusion to Clara’s story and I can’t wait until it’s out so I can grab a copy myself.

    Giselle @ Book Nerd Canada

    • Wendy Darling

      Yeah, my favorite books are definitely the ones with a strong emotional undercurrent. These are unusual in that there’s romance, but there’s also other kinds of love portrayed in them, too–all with respect and joy. It isn’t any wonder we all respond so strongly to them.

      I hope you love it, Giselle!

  19. Amy

    Fantastic review!! It sounds like it is just as beautiful as the first two. I can’t wait to read it and see how the story ends. I am not a big angel book fan so the fact that this is one of my favorite series really says something about Cynthia Hand’s writing.

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m totally with you on that, Amy–I never liked angel novels until Unearthly came onto the scene. And I still think it’s the best angel series. :)

  20. Eunice

    What a lovely review, Wendy. I love how you described your favorite moments in this story. Even in your review, it shows just how much compassion this book contains. As for the romance, both boys are indeed so easy to love and I’m sure I’d still feel sad to whoever will be left behind…so YES to a follow-up story! Haha! I really can’t wait to get my hands on this one. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      COMPASSION. Yes, exactly! And cheers for joining the Write Another Follow-Up Story Club, hee hee.

      Agree, both boys are so lovely–I can see why Clara has a hard time choosing between them. I look forward to reading your review when you’ve had a chance to read this, Eunice!

  21. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Oh wow I really can’t wait to read this one. Though I am a bit nervous about the romance aspect, I’m really not a huge fan of a book that has a constant back and forth of the MC not knowing who she wants to be with or if she can be with that person. I really loved the first two books in this series so I hope I love this one just as much. Wonderful review, Wendy!

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m not really a fan of that either, Jenni–and thus far I thought the series had largely avoided that pretty well. For some reason I didn’t expect that much of it in this book, so…maybe being prepared for it will help somewhat? I don’t know! I just hope you enjoy it, hah. If you’re a fan of both the first books, I’m sure you will.

  22. Shirley

    Hand’s books have never been a favourite of mine unfortunately (I gave up halfway through Hallowed) :/ The elements that everyone loves about this series just happen to be exactly what I dislike about it :S Nonetheless, i’m so glad you were satisfied with the conclusion :) Hmm…maybe I’ll read the last book just to see how it all ends :)

  23. Traci @ The Reading Geek

    Great review! I was so nervous about picking Boundless up but you have definitely help calm my nerves now. I love this series and it’s great to hear that it’s an excellent conclusion. I’m still worried though about who she ends up with but I’m preparing myself just in case it isn’t who I want (Tucker). You definitely said it best in this review though. I love this series so much for how beautifully written it is.

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m so glad this was helpful in lessening your nerves, Tracy! It’s definitely hard to write a solid conclusion to a trilogy that has such rabid fans, but I think most readers will love this ending. And I know, everyone will worry until they actually finish the book, and then there will much celebrating–or perhaps gnashing of teeth, hah.

  24. K.

    Well, I’m pretty sure you already know but — great review! I think you did just fine in doing this book justice, Wendy. If a reader isn’t convinced after this then they’re obviously a lost cause.

  25. Sarah (saz101)

    Oh, Wendy, WOW.
    Your review is the kind of perfect that makes it hard to know what, exactly, to say.

    I still haven’t read the books (though I own the first two!) but this… I mean, if I ever needed incentive: “I appreciate how full and busy and purposeful Clara’s life is; each activity she undertakes and each relationship she maintains is a formative part of her, but none of them define her as a person or as an angel. I wish more young adult novels took such care to show this balance between life and love in a way that is so organic to the plot.”

    This is so so SO perfect I can’t even… This is what I long for in fiction. A heroine who truly lives, who has PURPOSE, and meaningful relationships that are a part of that.

    And this: “But love is a painful, complex, and ever-evolving thing, and the concerns of mere mortals don’t always apply when it comes to angels… There is so much love in these books in its many different forms, and I feel the glow of it long after I turn the last page.”

    Wendy. This is like poetry. I… can’t even. Just… oh, is it strange to thank you for writing this? And reading the book? And… I love. SO MUCH ♥

    • Wendy Darling

      WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ THESE BOOKS YET? *flabbergasted* What am I going to do with you, Sarah? What? Tell me! Better yet, hurry up and read them!!

      If you like that insight into Clara, btw, I should think you’ll love these books.

      And thank you, dearling. These books are just so beautiful, and I did my best to do them justice.

    • K.

      Sarah, you’re awesome. Yes, I agree with you. Wendy points out all the real and necessary yet often missing things we readers long for in books. Unfortunately, I feel we may be in the minority as writers and publishers are a little too preoccupied satisfying other kinds of readers…

      Oh and what are you doing? Read them already woman!!

    • Sarah (saz101)

      ASDFJDJDFJADF. YOU GUYS. I think K said it, and it’s why I LOVE your reviews. You have this talent for honing in on… well those often glssed-over elements (even glossed over in reviews!) that make up the je ne sais quoe of a book’s magic.

      Eh… uh… OK. Seriously. I have a couple of review books to read, but I’m doing this thing where I read one review book, one OMG OMG OMG SARAH WANTS TO READ THIS book. So… I think Hallowed just catapulted up my list. Also. The Australia cover is to die for. Especially seeing you mentioned Clara’s walk in a redwood forest? *dies*

      Seriously, have I mentioned I love you ladies?

  26. Stephanie Sinclair

    You have me so very excited to start on it right now, Wendy. I too am nervous to finish one of my favorite PNR series. *sigh* I can’t believe it’s coming to an end. Wonderful review as always and I am impressed with your ability not to spoil anything! Looking forward to the interview. :)

  27. Stephanie Sinclair

    You have me so very excited to start on it right now, Wendy. I too am nervous to finish one of my favorite PNR series. *sigh* I can’t believe it’s coming to an end. Wonderful review as always and I am impressed with your ability not to spoil anything! Looking forward to the interview. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I have been checking your GoodReads profile all weekend to see if you’ve started this, hah. It’s funny how many people say they are nervous about this, too! It just shows how much it means to us. *sigh*

      Can’t wait to discuss. HURRY UP, WOMAN.

  28. Jen Ryland/YA Romantics

    Wow — hard to review a whole trilogy with no spoilers — I know, because I just attempted it myself.

    Boundless is one of my most anticipated books of 2012. I’m not even an angel fan, but I agree with you that this is probably the most moving and beautifully written YA paranormal series out there.

    I’ll definitely stop by on the 25th — see you then :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I did my damnedest, hah. I’m always worried something will slip through the cracks, but I think this one is pretty safe.

      It’s such a gorgeous series! And yay, thanks for stopping by. :)

  29. Candace

    I’m REALLY excited to read this one! I still need to read the novella, but I have it and Boundless is on it’s way to me, so it’s not much longer. Normally I’m not a big angel person, but I love this series! It’s going to be torture waiting to see who she ends up with. I feel like I’m okay either way, but we’ll see.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, do read the novella before this one if you can, Candace! It’s not strictly necessary, but it does enhance this story significantly.

      I never liked an angel series until this one, either. And it’s still my favorite one. :) Look forward to your review!

  30. Sara @ Forever 17 Books

    I have literally been counting down the days for this release! I may have even checked B&N today JUST IN CASE by some miracle it would be there super early (I can dream, right?). I am super nervous for the ending. I am not even sure what I want to happen for everyone, but I just don’t want to be disappointed. I am a little nervous that you mentioned wanting a little more closure. I fear that will be my thoughts too. But hopefully I will also love it just as much. It truly is an amazing series. Great review! :)

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

    • Wendy Darling

      Sometimes those bookstores put out the books early–you just never know! Maybe they’ll be out this weekend.

      I hope you love it too, Sara. I tried not to give too much away (so hard when all you want to do is DISCUSS), but I look forward to seeing what everyone has to say once people have had a chance to read it. :)

  31. Christina (Christinareadsya)

    AHHHH. It’s wonderful to hear that although the book has its flaws, the series ends strongly. I don’t think I’ve read higher praise for this series from anyone else, and I sincerely hope that I experience the same strong emotions that you did. (Also, I do think she might write another book in the Unearthly world one day. I thought I had read somewhere that she said she might write a book on Clara’s mom.)

    • Wendy Darling

      It’s actually pretty action-packed towards the end, Christina–and it indeed is a very decisive ending.

      You might’ve read our interview with Cynthia from last year re: the extra book (it’s linked in the review at the end). Originally there were supposed to be four books, but that was reworked into three. I asked her about that in the upcoming interview as well, though–you’ll have to wait to see if there’s an update on that. ;)

  32. Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews)

    So pleased you were happy with the conclusion to this series, Wendy. It is one of my favourites and I really can’t wait to see how things works out. I’m Team Christian and have been since day one, but I hope I’ll be happy with whatever choice Clara makes. I can’t wait to read this! :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I’d love to hear what you think of it, Leanna–I hope you’re happy with where the story goes. I have complicated feelings about it, hah, but it doesn’t change the fact my regard for what the author did, or for my overall feeeeelings for the series. :)

  33. Sam

    I have to admit, there isn’t a great deal about the previous books that I can remember, other than how Hallowed ended. I enjoyed them both well enough at the time, but neither managed to create a lasting impression. I’m still looking forward to this though, even if Tucker is the main/only reason for that. ;) I’m curious to see how the love triangle is tied up, more than anything!

    Brilliant review, Wendy! :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh no! How funny, I couldn’t stop thinking about UNEARTHLY after I finished, and HALLOWED was just sublime to me. I look forward to your review when you get around to reading it, Sam.

  34. Aa'Ishah

    Eep! I cannot wait to get my hands on this one. I love the sound your favourite moments from this book, and I really want to see as well how this love triangle is resolved. Glad you loved this despite the few issues. Fab review, Wendy! :)

    Aa’Ishah @ Reading Under the Stars

    • Wendy Darling

      It was really hard not to have this review be 10 pages long and describe those moments in greater detail, Aa’Ishah! I easily could have gone on forever talking about all the things I loved.

      And I’m really curious to see how everyone will react to this conclusion, too! I know how many readers will react, but I don’t know about others, hah. Hope you enjoy. :)