Cynthia Hand has such a way with stories. Her writing is smooth and extremely readable, yet manages to convey darker themes with ease. She is one of few YA writers whose prose I consider to be “mature and refined”, adjectives I don’t throw about lightly or without meaning. Hand writes strongly, but not in a way that overpowers the story or characters.
Characterization, as always, continues to be a high point. Everyone in Boundless felt realistic and grounded in the story, even characters who barely had one or two speaking parts. An author who manages to fully develop every named person in a story is a rarity, and it all goes back to my firm belief that Hand is one of the most accomplished YA authors. She has taken her raw talent and cultivated it into something more, something a step above.
As Clara’s story came to a close, it was hard for me to remember why, in the months after finishing Hallowed, I ever lost my enthusiasm for the series. Clara is a very excellent protagonist. She’s a very realistic, down-to-earth sort of person and in spite of her wings and heritage, she still seems very much like any girl you find walking around campus. The two contributors to the great love triangle, Tucker and Christian, seem like real people also, which made all the difference toward reconciling me to the love triangle at all.
Obviously, the love triangle was the issue most readers were concerned about. Funny, isn’t it, how even when a girl is battling the forces of Satan, we’re most worried about whose engagement ring she’ll wear? It’s actually something that bothers me a bit, how love triangles so often commandeer the plot, how the protagonist and her two love interests are the most memorable things about a series. It shouldn’t be like that; but it is. So what did I think about Tucker/Clara/Christian: The End Days? Not much. Hand finished what she started, Clara chose the guy who was the obvious choice in the end (after terrifying me that she was going to end up with the guy even she admitted was wrong for her).
The end, where Clara makes her romantic choice, was without a doubt the weakest part of the book. It was still good, don’t get me wrong, but it was very…cheesy. The epilogue was something straight out of a Hallmark movie, and even though I caught myself smiling, I still wish Boundless hadn’t turned out quite so…sappy, with all loose ends neatly wrapped. Really not a big issue, but looking back I’m a little miffed.
However, in the long run, Boundless was very excellent. Cynthia Hand reaffirmed her talent, Clara once again proved her worth. Any fan of the series who hasn’t managed to grab this one (I’m rather late to the party) should do so. In spite of the made-for-TV conclusion, I was still impressed with this book, and with the series as a whole.