Unearthly by Cynthia Hand.
Page Count: 435.
Publication Date: January 4, 2011.
Published by: HarperTeen.
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.
What started out a little slow for me developed into an enjoyable, well-crafted novel that showed how two very different worlds can come together in one person and how much of a struggle that can be. I am not normally an angel fan, but I was impressed with the way Cynthia Hand put this story together and showed the very human side of the main character, Clara, while also giving significant weight to the angel world. It was an excellent balance and I think that is what really drew me into the story.
I grew to really like the cast of characters in Unearthly. Clara I didn't find exceptional, but her narrative voice is easy and friendly to read and worked well overall. I was very happy to see that Clara's family (mother and brother) plays such an important role in Clara's life and in the story because so often in YA, family, parents especially, are absent. Her mother's significance to the plot and to who Clara is as a person was clear and actually provided some repercussions to Clara's actions, which is another thing that is often amiss in YA. I also very much enjoyed Clara's friends, Wendy and Angela, and the contrast they provided to the story.
When it came to world-building, I think the "human" world aspect of it was very well done. I've never been to Wyoming but I felt like I could see it in front of me. As for the angel part, while there isn't a lot revealed in Unearthly, it gives enough for me not to question everything that goes on in regards to the angels. Because of the first person narration, readers learn as Clara does. I did find myself frustrated with Clara's mother right alongside Clara herself because the lack of angel information was really on her and without any good reason provided. However, I do think that will come into play later on, so if there is a good reason for it, it's understandable. I also feel like being kept in the dark about a lot of things isn't as frustrating when the main character is dealing with it as well.
I know everyone is tired of love triangles, but I think there are instances in which they really work, Unearthly being one of them. The triangles are always stronger when each choice represents something more than just a person. Of course, the connection the main character, in this case Clara, has with each boy is important, but I also think they each stand for something more for her. With Christian, Clara sees him as part of her destiny as he keeps appearing in her visions. He is attractive and seems to be a good guy, but he represents the angel part of Clara's life. Tucker, on the other hand, represents the human side of Clara, which she grows to really appreciate, and he provides a much more emotional relationship and connection. I, personally, am Team Tucker, at least after reading the first in the series.
Overall, I was impressed by Unearthly. It was a much better angel book than I was expecting; providing information along the way, maintaining a very human aspect, while still being creative.