Happy New Year, everyone!
In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees . . . .
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny? – Goodreads
UPDATE on April 24, 2011: I’m giving this that extra star. Since I had only read the ARC of this months ago, I had the urge to actually read my hard copy this weekend and I ended up loving the story more on this re-read. I enjoyed picking up on clues along the way and the characters (TUCKER) were as loveable as ever. Can I have Hallowed now?!
What a great way to start 2011! Having only read one book involving angels – one which was…not good, in my opinion – I wasn’t sure what to expect from this. As it turned out, I was very easily swept into the story!
Right away, Clara proved to be an extremely likable protagonist. She was the right amount of smart, funny, insecure, confident; she was well-rounded without making me want to roll my eyes with annoying little quirks. The summary is misleading because by the time the story begins, Clara has known for a few years about being an angel. Though she hasn’t quite mastered all of her abilities, her purpose has arrived in the the form of a vision involving a fire and a boy. After narrowing down some of the details, her family, consisting of her mother and younger brother, packs up and heads to Jackson Hole, Wyoming in hopes that Clara will fulfill her duty. Jackson Hole isn’t a location I was aware of and Wyoming itself isn’t a state I think of often, but Cynthia Hand paints such a vivid picture that it’s easy to fall in love with it through the pages.
Once in Wyoming, Clara meets the boy from her vision, Christian, but things aren’t falling into place as she would like them to. Christian is good looking and nice enough, but he has a girlfriend and she still hasn’t completely grasped what her purpose is. Not to mention, she still can’t fly…
While I did enjoy the minor characters, I felt that they were easily forgettable — especially once they all separated for the summer. I have my suspicions about a few of them, and I’m curious to see if I’m right, but I can’t say that they added much to the story in this one.
My favorite part of the book? The love story of course. It was refreshing to not have yet another predestined love story take over. Instead, we see two characters slowly grow together, making for a very satisfying read. I’m sure that the love triangle will become a major player in the next books, but I trust that Hand will continue to make her characters flow naturally.
There are quite a few surprises along the way, especially towards the end which nicely sets up the continuation of the series. I definitely plan to do a re-read to find any clues we might have received. There is still a lot of lingering mystery surrounding Clara’s mom and The Black Wings as well. I can’t wait to find out more about that because the pieces we received here were both creepy and intriguing. All in all, this was a fantastic debut and I look forward to where Hand takes us next!