Book Review: Boundless by Cynthia Hand
PROS:really well done love triangle; adorable relationship banter; fascinating angelic world building; perfect character and story closure
CONS:I REALLY want more books, and this does feel like a solid, no-takebacks kind of ending
Boundless is a soaring finale that is absolutely worthy of the fantastic books that came before it.
Well, the end is here at last. (Kind of—we still have the CW TV series to look forward to, so I’m not too torn up). Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly books are by far my favorite angel paranormal YA series. Several factors go into this—Hand’s spare, no nonsense, emotionally charged, yet humorous writing; Clara’s voice and personality, through which this unique world of Angelbloods and angels is presented; and romance that makes your heart sing and your toes curl. Boundless is a soaring finale that is absolutely worthy of the fantastic books that came before it (and that is saying a LOT).
WHY I LOVED BOUNDLESS
Clara Secures Her Spot in My Heroine Hall of Fame
Clara has always seemed like a normal, down-to-earth girl, despite her unearthly angelic powers. I’ve enjoyed seeing her grow into her abilities in the last two books, and am pleased to see her develop more in this installment, both as a normal college student at Stanford—trying to decide what she wants to be when she grows up, navigating her love life and trying to be a good friend; and as an Angelblood—dealing with dangerous Black Wings, wielding new angelic powers and trying to fulfill her purpose. I love that she continues to try to lead a normal life even as serious shizz hits the fan, but she is ready and willing to step up to her angelic destiny, no matter how terrifying it may be.
Fascinating Angelic World Gets Even More Interesting
One of the reasons this book is fresh despite how popular angel YA lit has become is that the world is so skillfully fleshed out. I buy into visions and purpose and glory as whole-heartedly as Clara and her family and friends. Her knowledge is quite limited at the start of the series, and she has to discover so much about her angelic side on her own. In both Unearthly and Hallowed, Clara’s understanding of her life is rocked by some new revelation of how the worlds of Earth, Heaven and Hell collide, and there are even more discoveries for Clara, Christian and Angela in Boundless. We get some terrifying insight into hell, as well as new powers to wield and even more Black Wing enemies to fear. Lingering series questions about purpose, fate and free will are addressed in a satisfactory way by the end of the book.
Love Triangle Resolution
Ah, one of the greatest romantic dilemmas of our time : Tucker or Christian? I honestly can’t remember caring so much about a YA love triangle since Katniss-Peeta-Gale. Or maybe Rose-Dimitri-Adrian. It’s unusual for a love triangle to work this well at this stage in our collective YA romantic reading life—they are overdone to the point of abuse. The Unearthly series definitely does LT’s right—perhaps even giving them a good name again.
I’ve become so invested in these relationships because the love and friendship between both Clara and Tucker and Clara and Christian feels SO real, so deep and meaningful and well-developed. Hand’s heart is in the right place with this LT too—it’s not about jacked up sexy paranormal gods fighting over a girl in some sort of magical testerone-off. In the beginning, a love triangle seemed like a non-issue—Clara loves Tucker, their relationship is so sweet and natural and real and human, while Christian initially treats Clara like an afterthought, almost a duty. Clara and Christian each resist their angelic purpose bringing them together romantically in the beginning. But as the series progresses, they become best friends with genuine love and attraction between them, and Christian makes quite the romantic comeback, even for a Tucker & Carrots 4 Lifer like me.
It’s fate vs. free will, if fate is your incredibly sweet and sexy best friend, and free will is the possible cowboy love of your life. There was never not going to be a somewhat bittersweet resolution to this story.
As a loud and proud Team Tucker gal, disclosing whether I was elated or disgruntled with the way the love triangle was handled would be a major spoiler. I will say that both relationships get plenty of real estate in this book, and while there is back and forth and uncertainty that will likely cause both teams angst, there is, I hope, a peaceful resolution for all parties.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but every single character who has had some impact on me emotionally throughout this series makes an appearance in the finale; some impacting the plot in major ways, some just providing a sense of closure and emotional support to Clara. Again, not spoiling anything about the hows or the whys, but I finally got the additional Samjeeza action I’ve been craving (though I still want more of Sam’s back story, but I’m appeased for now).
Non Spoilery Awesomeness
Clara is a Vampire Academy fan!! Yes, she owns a “dog-eared” copy of the book (is there any other kind of VA copy?), and she also mentions reading an undisclosed trendy post-apocalyptic book. I maintain that this series is realistic, self-aware paranormal YA, if such a thing is possible. In the past, we’ve seen Clara compare herself to Edward Cullen, worrying she is skeezing out on Tucker by flying over to his house, and we’ve heard her very spot-on thoughts on love triangles in romance books.
Clara feels like the blogger girl next door, who just, you know, sort of happens to be an angel, and I love her even more for it.
Overall, I am so sad to see the end of one of my absolute favorite paranormal series, but I am satisfied with how the series ended, and hopeful that I will get much more Unearthly story time on the CW. Ahem, CW, can you speed this shizz up already?