by Cynthia Hand
Release Date: January 2011
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.
As with most YA books I read these days, I try to start each book with lower expectations than I actually have. Why? Because many of them are hyped to such a degree that to start reading with high expectations in mind is bound to result in disappointment.
I’d heard that Unearthly was “Halo the way it should have been written”, but since I hadn’t read Halo, I didn’t go in with any real basis of comparison. Mind you, I read Angelfire first, but the two books are so vastly different that I don’t feel a comparison between those two is fair.
So I had to judge the book on its own merits.
And I wasn’t disappointed!
The story started a little slow for my tastes, and I wasn’t sure whether I could get into the story. The heroine seemed a little bit too perfect, and I had a bit of trouble buying the premise—mostly because the author chose not to reveal key details until later in the story. I think if I’d had more explanation about the world-building up front, I might have enjoyed the first half more, but this ‘late-reveal’ method of story crafting seems to be popular these days. Unfortunately, it just bugs the heck out of me.
That said, the story picked up eventually, and managed to be a decent read, despite the clichéd “supernatural teenager at high school” premise. The way the angel-bloods recognized each other, and the abilities they had, were quite creative. Aside from the cheesy bits.
Beyond that, I was most impressed with how respectful the author was when writing about spiritual matters. She didn’t take the angels and turn them into something over-the-top anti-God (as some of these more recent books seem to do), but rather crafted a lovely explanation of the difference between angels on earth, angels in heaven, and their roles in relation to God’s purposes.
My favorite part of the entire book was the explanation of something called ‘glory’—which I’ll leave up to you to discover.
Overall, I have to admit that I didn’t particularly like the ending. I know the author was setting up for a sequel, but it felt like a bit of a cop-out, seeing as how the events of the ending were alluded to throughout the book… but I’m hoping that will get resolved in book two.
Verdict? Worth the read!
About the Author
Cynthia Hand divides her time between Southern California, where she lives with her husband and son, and southeast Idaho near the Teton mountains. She teaches creative writing at Pepperdine University.