Friday, January 14, 2011

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Title: Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly #1
Published: January 4, 2011 by HarperTeen
(435 pages, hardcover)
Summary: 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.
My thoughts: Okay, you're going to have to excuse my overzealousness about Tucker Avery in this review. The boy just had me slayed from the first tip of his cowboy hat. *Swoons* To the actual review: I've had a bad experience with angel books lately; they all seem to kind of fall flat and unoriginal. However, Unearthly was a great read. It was captivating, original, hot, sweet, and angelic in all the right ways. Hand's writing sounds just like a teenage girl, and her characters were so well fleshed out! Clara is easily likable; she's determined, nice, and someone you would want to be friends with. Her mom got on my nerves a little, at points, but she was well-developed and I'll be looking forward to seeing more of her background and history in the next installments. I loved Jeffrey, Clara's little brother, and I was super intrigued by the way Hand wrapped up the story. And Tucker. Seriously, I love this boy; I'll refrain from actually passing out now. But anyways, I liked Christian too. The story line was filled with unexpected twists and turns and I was surprised by how deep the story got.
The cover is a little misleading: Clara has not really 'just' learned that she's an angel; she's known for almost three years. Yay, for not springing the angel news randomly in the middle of the novel! Clara is completely likable and relatable; sure, she has wings and some kick-ass powers, but she's just a normal teenage girl under her celestial exterior. I loved that Hand didn't make a huge deal of the theology in the book; it didn't get overwhelming at any points. Basically, you get all of the information you need when you need it. Plus, the writing was really easy to read, and kind of relaxed-paced. Nothing seemed rushed, and the brief lapses of time that we don't get to read about in detail were perfectly executed.
Angela was one of my favorite characters; she was also my least favorite character. Don't ask how that makes sense. It doesn't. But as much as I loved Clara having a friend she could relate too, she got annoying near the end. For the sake of spoilers, I'll just say that I'm with Clara on the whole issue of what her destiny is and what her choice is. I'm a romantic, and I can't help but think that Clara should get to choose who Clara ends up with. Angela was on the other side of the argument, and that made me like her a lot less. Wendy, on the other hand, was sweet and I loved her group of 'Invisibles'. I just wished that she could've been more in the loop.
Christian Prescott was a nice character; I'll admit to rooting for him and Clara to get together for the first 50 pages of the book. But then in stepped Tucker Avery; I won't ruin anything. But all I can saw about Clara's relationships is awwwwww! Okay, I've gotten that out of my system. (Sorry for the insanity that is this review; I blame Tucker for my crazily overactive imagination.)  Tucker is a cowboy and a gentleman and he has the bluest eyes ever and he was a bit of a smart-ass. Enough said. Hand is a great writer when it comes to knee-weakening romance for sure. I kept smiling through all of the romantic scenes. And the nonromantic parts were just as well-written and nicely executed. I was biting my nails at the suspenseful parts and holding back tears at the emotional parts.
The twists and turns in this book were surprising and well-done. I loved not knowing how everything was going to turn out. And the way Hand describes Wyoming and the scenery had me wanting to pack a bag and fly there tonight! It sounded so beautiful and magical and now i know I have to go see those mountains at some point in my life in order to die happy. The whole angel thing wasn't overbearing, and I liked the originality of how their world works. There are still a lot of questions left unanswered, and because of Clara's choice, a whole new set of problems. It'll be exciting to see what happens with Clara and Christian and Tucker.  I can't wait for the sequel and I'd recommend Unearthly to any fans of slightly paranormal, mostly romance YA novels.
Covering the Cover: I like the purple color, and how it's simple and intriguing. The girl seems a little too old to be Clara, but other than that, I really like the cover for this one. It sets the mood for the novel nicely. 
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Overall Rating: 5 stars


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