“Radiant” Cynthia Hand

Rated 2 stars ** Unearthly, book #2.5. 2012. HarperCollins. ebook.

RadiantCarla and Angela are spending the summer in Rome, before they head off to college at Stanford. Carla remembers Angela had hinted once at a relationship with someone in Rome, but is mum about it until she and Carla run into Phen on the train. In alternate voices, Angela tells of how she met Phen, an ambivalent angel, and what led to her falling in love with him while Carla tries her best, rather unsuccessfully, to convince Angela to dump him.

At #2.5 in the series, “Radiant” should be read before “Boundless” even though, ideally, authors shouldn’t make novellas become mandatory reading in a series. I had read “Boundless,” before “Radiant,” and was quite puzzled in various places when Carla referred to meeting Phen over the summer and thought about various things that had happened in Rome. Rome? What happened in Rome?

It felt like I was missing something as I continued reading, and now I know I had been missing the events in “Radiant.” I take the author and the publisher to task for this, as novellas are supposed to be some sort of back story about some of the characters in a book, and should not contain important plot which would be missed in an actual sequel. That is my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.

I wish I could tell Hand’s 14 years old and older readers that it isn’t necessary to read this novella before reading  “Boundless,” but it wouldn’t be true. Even though I see it as a money making marketing ploy to get readers to spend more money, reading it helps clear up some of the deliberate fogginess about what happened in Rome when you’re reading “Boundless.”

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