Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review - Unearthly, by Cynthia Hand

Title: Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand
Released: Jan 2011
Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 341
Rating: 4/5
Source: NetGalley
Purchase: Amazon

Summary from Goodreads
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 don't know why, but I'm having such a difficult time writing a review for this book! I mean, it was really good, but I just can't seem to put my thoughts into words without giving anything away.

The only books I've read that touch on the subject of angels are Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series. Other than that, my experience with paranormal beings has been with vampires, wolves, shadowhunters, wizards & any other creature in the Harry Potter series. So, what were my thoughts on reading a book about a part-angel, part-teenage human girl? It was refreshing. This story was not dark like so many others in its genre. Sure there were dark moments, but overall, it had such a light, happy feel to it.

I loved the main character, Clara. While first getting to know her, I worried she was going to be another whiny, awkward, swooning girl. At times she showed hints of this (what teenage girl hasn't?), but as I got to know her, I realized that while not perfect, she was strong, independent, self-sufficient, competitive, & easy to relate to. She was awesome!

While this book can be categorized as paranormal fantasy, & the overall premise of the story had to do with Clara & her angel purpose on Earth, I was amazed by Hand's ability to make it so realistic. So much of the focus was on the characters & what it's like to be a teenager - trying to get a boy's attention, making friends, fitting in, & being teased by the Gilbert Blythe of Jackson Hole, WY (when said boy called her "Carrots," I'm pretty sure I started rooting for him right then & there!). At the same time, Hand threw in magical qualities: flying, visions, glowing, hair having an almost life-like mind of its own. This book felt more like magical realism than paranormal fantasy, & I loved that about it. It made it easier to escape in the story & feel as though it could really happen.

Another thing I appreciated about Hand's story was the fact that she didn't make the romance aspect of it ridiculous. It felt natural & was very well-developed. It wasn't about fantasy, obsession, love at first sight, & lust (well, maybe a little), but rather, they were equals & grew close through actually spending time together & getting to know each other. And while the swoon-worthy boys were comical at times in their stereotypes, I enjoyed them. Tucker especially made my list of literary crushes, while I imagine Christian isn't far behind!

I am so excited for the next book in this series to come out! Unearthly left us with some unanswered questions, & I can't wait to see where this story goes! I wish I could just relive the story all over again - if this were a movie, I would have pushed "replay" as soon as I finished watching it, just so I could experience it all over again.
"So often we only do what we think is expected of us, when we are capable of so much more." ~ Cynthia Hand, Unearthly


Tevya said...

Love your review! I just reviewed Unearthly on Reading Lark, and I could not agree more with evyerthing you've said. I fell for Tuck, too. ;)

I'm a new follower. :)

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful review! Thanks for sharing, I am looking forward to reading this book.