Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly (Unearthly, Book #1)
by Cynthia Hand
Release Date: January 4, 2011
2011 HarperTeen
Hardcover Edition; 448 Pages
ISBN: 978-0061996160
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

4 / 5 Stars

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?

My Thoughts
I am always skeptical when reading books about angels as there are many times I have been disappointed in the past and as a result, I have tended to shy away from these types of novels.  When asked to try this one, I figured it's been a while, so why not give it a shot.  To my surprise, I really enjoyed this one, despite some drawbacks, and am looking forward to the sequel when it is released next year.

One of the things I really liked about this book is the characters.  I love it when teenage characters aren't always full of angst and tend to be rebellious and annoyed about everything.  Clara and Jeffrey appear to be well-adjusted teenagers, generally happy with life, and have a relatively great relationship with their mom.  There are the usual family squabbles and the usual arguments that come with being a normal teen, but that's to be expected.  I rather enjoyed it when Clara tried to outsmart her mother and ended up grounded, or when Jeffrey did something at school he wasn't supposed to and had to stay in his room.  It was quite refreshing.  Of course Clara did try to sneak out of her room when in trouble, only to get in more trouble.  Love it!! 

Clara is a rather intriguing character.  Throughout the book, although growing in her power as an angel, she still felt vulnerable and natural.  She was always really good at everything she did, so when she had trouble learning how to fly, I liked that as it made her appear more human, with normal human foibles and weaknesses.  She could also be rather clumsy at times and was often tongue-tied around people she really admired.    All of the characters had to work out things in their lives, some more challenging than others, but I enjoyed how the author allowed other characters to shine through and often put Clara in her place, reminding her she wasn't the center of the world and others had issues they had to deal with as well. 

While the romance was interesting, I'm glad it didn't overwhelm the novel.  So often, the entire plot becomes the romance between the two main characters and that turns me right off the novel.  I found both Christian and Tucker to be rather intriguing and I'm curious to discover what will happen with them in Clara's life and how it will alll pan out in the future.  It's rather nice to have a main character who really dwells on the choices she has made and the impact her choices will have on the future and the future of those around her and feels guilty when she chooses selfishly.  Clara has a conscience and understands that her choices are important, not just to herself, but to everyone.

One of the things that did concern me was the ending.  It felt like the novel was intended to be a stand-alone and somewhere along the way, ideas were changed and now is intended to be a series.  Something just didn't sit right and I feel like I missed something important along the way.  I didn't feel like there was any climax to what was happening and therefore, no real resolution; I was just left hanging, waiting to read the next book.  There were a lot of things that were not explained, so hopefully, the sequel will explain a few more things to my satisfaction.  That being said, I still enjoyed the book very much.

Unearthly was a good start to what I believe is now intended to be a trilogy.  While I enjoyed the novel very much, I wasn't crazy about the ending as I felt like things were not really resolved, nor did I feel like there was any climax; the story just seemed to end, and I was left wondering what I really missed.  Despite this, I will definitely pick up book two when it is released next year.

Take a look at the trailer:


  1. Maybe I'll look into reading this. I really liked your review.