For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.
I don’t know, you guys. I didn’t like this one quite as much as I liked Unearthly, though I did like aspects of it. I realized I’m Team Christian when last book all I cared about was Tucker, Tucker, Tucker. I feel like this book is more about Clara realizing her relationship with Tucker isn’t enough rather than dealing with the consequences of ignoring her purpose. This one felt more like paranormal romance to me rather than just straight paranormal fiction. I hate love triangles, and though Hand doesn’t quite OD on it the wayTwilight does, it’s still a love triangle. I didn’t like Clara as much in this one either. Was she this selfish and clueless in the first book? I don’t remember. So my initial feelings weren’t so good on this one, but I liked some things about it too.
I liked that Christian didn’t try to sabotage Clara’s relationship with Tucker. I liked everything Clara’s mom did in this one. I liked meeting Maggie’s friends. I started noticing that maybe Tucker couldn’t handle Clara’s angel blood, like maybe it was too much for him. I don’t think boys with cowboy hat collections and subscriptions to rodeo magazines are cute, generally. Tucker’s so nice, but Clara’s glory makes him physically ill. He can’t take it, in my opinion. I felt almost betrayed by myself when I realized how I felt about Tucker versus Christian. I want things to work out for Tucker and Clara, but they won’t. Not unless Hand introduces some kind of deus ex machina that makes Tucker semi-immortal too. Because he isn’t. He’s mortal, and as Clara’s mom makes clear, he will die someday, someday much sooner than Clara. I felt this sense of foreboding every time Clara and Tucker were together, because it’s obvious something bad is going to happen.
You know what bugged me about this one? How Hand tried to make fun of YA cliches like destiny and love triangles. It didn’t work, in my opinion. Just saying something derisive about what you’re doing doesn’t change the fact that you’re doing it. You still employed one of the most tired aspects of YA. It’s still a love triangle, even if Christian is mostly suffering silently. Tucker still makes noises at Christian like they’re wolves fighting over meat. Christian isn’t doing so well at leaving Clara and Tucker alone either, despite not doing anything overt. It’s silly, I’m sorry. I don’t think I knew one single girl in high school who had two dudes gunning for her. I’m so tired of this trope, so so tired. I hope book three has zero romance, but it won’t. I know it won’t. Sigh. I also don’t really believe Clara’s assertion that Christian only likes her because God told him to. I think Christian likes Clara because they’re very much alike, and she’s someone he can tell all his secrets to. It does sometimes feel like Clara’s choice has been taken away, but…I really like Christian, and so does Clara. This is another time when I felt like Hand was breaking the fourth wall a little, like she’s addressing our concerns about the Clara-Christian-Tucker dynamic through Clara. I didn’t like it. It took me out of the story and I imagined Hand sitting at her laptop, wondering how to tie up all the questions presented by her readers.
So, in case you didn’t realize it, the first two thirds of this book were sort of a rollcoaster for me. Then everything changed. Christian, Clara’s dad, Jeffrey, it all came together and was awesome. I got to the end and found I couldn’t wait for the next one. I want more for Clara, I want Stanford and Christian and happiness for her, and I hope she gets that. I’m worried about the love triangle aspect, but I’m hoping for maybe some independence for Clara. Maybe she doesn’t have to end up with someone. That would be my ideal, but I died when Christian was talking to her at the cemetery. That was beautiful. Perfect. I hope to see more of that in book three.