Title: Boundless (Unearthly #3)
Author: Cynthia Hand
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
Age Group: YA
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 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.