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REVIEW: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

by Cynthia Hand
Jan 4th, 2011
Source: Library

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?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

I absolutely tore through Unearthly. I read the first half of the book late at night (never a good idea) and wanted to continue, but the sun was starting to rise, so I thought sleep was probably a better idea. I resumed reading the minute I had free time the next day and finished the last half of the book in one sitting. Unearthly is ridicuously addicting and
quick to read. You won’t be able to put it down.

This book really was a journey. We follow Clara as she receives her angelic “purpose,” moves to Wyoming in order to complete said purpose, meets the literal guy of her dreams, meets another, different guy, and eventually finds out that her purpose may not be as straightforward as she first thought.

Unearthly is about angels, yes, and the angel mythology is fascinating, but it’s also about family, love, friendship, finding out who you are, and whether or not you can change your destiny–or if you even should.

The main character, Clara, was a winning heroine: relatable, snarky, unsure of herself but still strong. I really feel like I got to know her. I think the writing style really aided this; it was so accessible and just really easy to jump right into the book. I also loved her friends, the love interests, and her brother. They were all well developed.

I loved that Clara’s mother played such an important role in her daughter’s life and in the story. So many young adult protagonists either have no parents at all, parents who are there but mostly absent, or abusive parents. Margaret is neither. She is a fully developed character that has flaws and doesn’t always make the right decisions, but seems to really care about her daughter.

The book does contain a sorta-love triangle, but I think it was handled differently than you would expect. With most young adult books that feature a love triangle, you can tell right away which one the protagonist will “choose”; this is not so with Unearthly. I honestly had no idea which boy Clara would end up with until much later in the book. Also, there was no insta-love! Hurray! And the plot didn’t focus entirely on the romance. In fact, there was little romance at all until later in the book. But once the romance started it was, well, lovely. And there was lots of kissing. Yes, this is an important thing to mention.

The only criticism I could come up with is the story slowed down a bit at the midway point. But it picked up again soon after that, so it didn’t bother me that much

Lastly, it must be said that the cover is gorgeous. I loved that the swirl from the cover was used on the first page of every chapter. I got this book from the library, but I’m considering buying it myself just to have the pretty cover on my bookshelf! Also because what’s inside the book is awesome too, obviously.

Without a doubt, Unearthly is one of the best angel books I’ve had the pleasure to read. I can’t wait for the second book, Hallowed!
Rating: 5/5


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