Saturday, January 19, 2013


by Cynthia Hand
Read: January 16, 2013
Published: January 22, 2013 by HarperCollins
Source: A gift from the publisher*
Category: YA Paranormal Romance, Angels 
Series: Unearthly series book 3

NOTE: Boundless is the third book in a series. See my spoiler free thoughts on Unearthly and Hallowed HERE. I encourage you to hold off reading below until you've read the first two books. This review is spoiler-free for Boundless

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. (From Goodreads)

Discussing books is my favorite. Add a love triangle, and I have even more to say. 
One of the marks of a great series to me is how much it makes me think, ask questions and want to discuss it with others. The Unearthly series is every one of those things, so much so that I bought several copies of the first book for Christmas to give to my friends. Thankfully, Boundless is no less discussable than Unearthly and Hallowed were. Unfortunately, most of my conversations about Boundless have centered around my disappointment about the love triangle. I will tell you all about why I'm feeling that way (without spoilers), but first I want to mention several elements of the series that I've LOVED from beginning to end. 

What came first, the chicken or the egg? 
Underlying this entire series is a free will/destiny debate that has fascinated me since I read the first book Unearthly. I've especially loved the way that the idea of the angel-bloods' Purpose has become a catalyst for that debate. In Boundless, Clara and her friends continue to wonder whether they drive their Purpose or it drives them. Do their visions alter their actions and that makes their visions come true? Or do their visions show the path they would have chosen anyway? Like the first two books, this one doesn't give a straightforward answer to the question, and that makes the series more complex. It is also one of the reasons that I love it so much.  
Family is important to Clara, a rare treat in this genre.
One of my favorite aspects of this entire series is Clara’s relationships with her mother, father and brother. Despite the fact that Clara's family is gone when Boundless begins, she maintains a dynamic connection to each of them. She misses her mother, worries about Jeffery, and is still trying to figure out how to relate to her father.  I was really glad to see that in the wake of her own problems, Clara does not forget about their influence in her life. Some of the strongest moments in this book take place between Clara and various family members.

Clara also has female friends, another rarity. 
Despite Clara's time consuming love situation, she has always been able to maintain solid girl-friendships. One of her closest and most complicated friend relationship is with Angela, who has always been somewhat of a mystery and wild card. Even after reading her perspective in the novella Radiant, I was unsure about her. In Boundless we finally get to see Angela stripped down to her most vulnerable and true, and I found Clara's dedication to Angela to be particularly moving in this story. 

Angel-bloods are real people too.
Despite its paranormal themes, many elements about the Unearthly series make it almost seem like a contemporary story. That is no more true than in Boundless, when we get to see Clara transition from high school to college. Clara navigates classes, new friends and contemplates future career choices. But Clara isn't a regular human girl. In addition to her homework, she is training for a battle between good and evil, and desperately trying to discern her Purpose in all of it. I've consistently appreciated the fact that this series has been written in a way that makes it relatable and also extraordinary. 

This is when I talk a lot about the love triangle, without telling you WHO.  
Although I don’t care for love triangles, this is one that I’ve always thought was an exception. Throughout the first two books of the series, the love story developed naturally and realistically. And despite the paranormal-angel theme, it was both contemporary and relatable. I've also felt like it consistently maintained respect for all characters involved. Unfortunately, those elements seemed to go away in the final book, leaving me disappointed and confused.

Despite the fact that I had a ‘team’ preference when Hallowed ended, I have always trusted Clara’s decisions and how she’s previously handled her relationships with Christian and Tucker. Although she’s made mistakes, I've thought that she's faced them with a honesty and maturity rarely seen in YA fiction. That is to say, I felt certain that I would BELIEVE in whatever decision she made at the end of the series. But Clara and I never seemed to arrive on the same page in Boundless, and I became increasingly frustrated with her.

Please don’t read too much into my comments so far, because I’m not talking about WHO Clara picks, but HOW she went about making her decision. While the previous two books managed to avoid most of the common Love Triangle Traps, Boundless got stuck in them. It also felt like much of the growing up Clara did in the first two books went away in the last one. In Boundless Clara waffled back and forth constantly. She did not have much (if any) honest internal dialogue to sort through how she was feeling or behaving towards both guys, and in some cases came across as selfish and unsympathetic. The one thing that her constant indecision accomplishes is that it keeps the reader guessing until the very end. But in so doing, the book sacrificed many of the reasons that I enjoyed this triangle in the first place.

I don't want you to panic about what I'm saying. Most people don’t react as viscerally as I do to love triangles, and the story does end in a way that I think the majority of readers will be happy about. I was just unsatisfied by how the author got to the conclusion, and more than a little unsettled about the resolution for the One Not Chosen. I am curious to see what other readers think about that, or if they read the end in the same way at all.

I tried to be as candid about my feelings here without giving away the answers. As someone who talks a lot about triangles in general and this one in particular, I felt that I owed it to myself and my readers to be honest and clear about my reaction to the final book. But though I am disappointed about one aspect of this story, it is excellent over all. I still think Cynthia Hand is a fantastic author and that this is a great series. 

Of course I have a lot more to say about this book and the love triangle that is a SPOILER. If you have read Boundless and are curious about my specific (and sometimes emotional) thoughts, read the Discussion under Wendy Darling’s Goodreads review of Boundless. (The actual book discussion begins at message 198). Going back to my very first point about this series, I’d love to talk about Boundless with you. I’m very curious about others’ reactions to the conclusion of this series

Love Triangle Factor: DANGER! Very High
Cliffhanger Scale: Series conclusion

Two fantastic reviews of Boundless   
Wendy Darling's review @ The Midnight Garden - I love all of this review, but especially take note of Wendy's list of favorite moments in the book.
Jen's review @ The Starry-Eyed Revue - I love that Jen talks about Clara being relatable, friend material. 

 *Received in exchange for an honest review. THANK YOU THANK YOU HarperCollins! 


  1. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this book. Is it Tuesday yet?? :-)

    1. I can't wait for you to read it either, Carrie! Only a few short days.

  2. This is such a thorough, fair, and honest review, Lauren. Even if we hadn't already discussed this in such epic length (hee), your appreciation for the series as well as your disappointment in some parts of the book really come through. It's going to be so interesting to see everyone's reactions to the book!

    Thanks so much for linking to me, as well as for the amazing discussion. It's always good to have like-minded friends to go through these things with, and I'm glad we bonded over this book!

    1. Thanks so much, Wendy. That means a lot! Fair and honest were exactly what I was going for. I probably always go overboard when explaining my negative reactions, because it is never my intention to be mean.

      I'm also so thankful that we could discuss this book - and that we had likeminded opinions! I have so many friends in the middle of the series, and I didn't want them to know how disappointed I was about the triangle before they had a chance to read it (or at least catch up to this point in the series). It's been tough to to hold in those feelings. I hope we have more book discussions to come!

  3. I wasn't a huge fan of Unearthly AT ALL and have been feeling so strange because I'm not on the bandwagon for this series and the whole blogosphere is going crazy with the release of this book. It is a real shame, though, that the love triangle in this was resolved in such an unsatisfactory manner. I know a lot of people who didn't like love triangles actually liked this one because of how realistic it was kept, but it seems like this one just fell back on typical tropes. :/ Well, I definitely won't be continuing the series, that's for sure. Wonderful review, Lauren!(:

    1. Yes, as someone who didn't love the first book, and doesn't care for many love triangles in general, I think this conclusion would very much bother you. HOWEVER, I would love to have discussed it with you, if you'd continued with it!

      I definitely find that the third book can make or break the triangle for me! The author wants to keep the reader guessing, and also needs to please both teams, who are heavily invested in their person. Unfortunately, both of those decisions backfired on this book. But overall, I still really do love this series.

  4. I always liked how the angel bloods felt human too, and that a lot of Unearthly and Hallowed feel contemporary.

    It sucks that how the triangle goes about resolving itself is disappointing -- but that stated, I am actually still really excited for Boundless, just because I want to know how it all plays out and ends, ya know? Plus, I love that feeling of having finished a series, it's practically a huge accomplishment.

    1. So true, April. Although PNR books take place in the human world, few of them feel so connected to it. I absolutely loved how contemporary and relatable is this series.

      I definitely understand wanting to KNOW, and finish a series. I LOVE that feeling of accomplishment, as well. Also, perhaps you won't feel the same way about the resolution as I did. But I'll be looking for your thoughts on it. I'm very curious to see what everyone else thinks!

  5. Not reading this (averting eyes!) until after I read Boundless too! But I finished Radiant last night and REALLY liked it too! Love getting Angela's POV, I've been curious about her!

    1. Smart not to read this until you're done with the series! I can't believe you've flown through it so fast. That makes me incredibly happy. I can't believe that so many people I know are reading these books now! I am so excited to discuss these books. I definitely think HOW we read them made a big difference. But, I agree that we have some philosophical differences about the characters, which makes them more fun to discuss!

  6. As you know, I just flew through Unearthly and Hallowed. I really liked how the love triangle didn't fall back on the typical stereotypes and generalizations that usually accompany them, so I'm sad that the third book sort of disappoints in this area. I am still, however, excited to read Boundless just because I love finishing a series!

    I will definitely be back to discuss my thoughts once I've read Boundless. I have a feeling I'll need it once I'm done!

    1. I'm really hoping that all of you who have read the series in one big chunk, see something that I missed in the end. I think it will definitely change your reading experience. Hopefully, for the better! But it's so fun that so many people are reading - and loving - these books right now.

      I would love to discuss this series with you!

  7. Yay -- getting this tomorrow. And I'm a little sad to read your review. I've always thought of this as one of the good love triangles. I'm not going to read the GR thread until I read the book!

    1. I cannot wait for you to read this book so that we can talk about it, Jen! I'm very interested to find out all the opinions of my friends who are reading the series. You definitely DON'T want to read the discussion before you've finished the book. HUGE SPOILERS.

  8. I've read this once, the other day on my phone. I skipped it again (I don't want to make myself any more nervous than I already am, which is a ton) to come back and just remind you that I'm high up on the wait list at my library and that I'll read it as soon as it comes in, and then we can discuss.

    I WILL say that I'm VERY worried that this book will disturb how much I've loved the first two books, which is a TON. So...IDK. I'm kind of scared about it because of all of the mixed reviews I'm not reading, but seeing on twitter. Eek!

    1. You liked this one the best of all, so YAY for that. I'm glad we have some of the same opinions about the end though. I don't know how you could read this and NOT be crushed for the Other Guy!

  9. YES YES YES about the love triangle conclusion. I was happy with who she chose (though I think I could have been either way depending on how it went down) but I was NOT HAPPY about how it all went down. Like that the one person kind of just gets thrown out and doesn't even get to be a part of their lives?? That person deserved way more than that! Ahhh I have so much more I want to say. WHY can't we all just live nearby so we can grab coffee and discuss!! I truly LOVE this series and this book was fantastic..until that very end for me. I keep hoping maybe she'll have a novella from that character's perspective just so I can think of him being happy and not cast off lol.

    1. EXACTLY, Jamie! I felt the SAME. I'm still sad about the fate of the One Not Chosen. I don't know if I'll ever get over it :(. But I'm glad Clara is happy with her choice. I am genuinely glad for her - despite thinking she was a tad heartless at the end.

      And YES. I wish I could see all my blogging friends in person. You guys connect to a side of me that many people don't. But I'm so glad for the connection of the internet at least. Maybe I'll see you at BEA!

  10. I don't think I've ever read a review for this last installment that has thoroughly put my feelings into words as well as yours has. I lot of things - especially the ending - were just not done right. Clara, who I loved in the first two books, just became like any other YA heroine who juggles two boys without any remorse. In all honesty, in comparison with the other two books, I really didn't like this one. It just didn't end up in the way I had expected it to, especially after reading Hallowed.


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