‘Unearthly’ by Cynthia Hand
In case you missed my spaz moment, I finished Unearthly on Friday. I really wanted to pound the keyboard right then and there but it was late and I needed sleep after a full day of being sucked into Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Then came some drunken debauchery over the weekend at a friend’s bachelorette party so it was probably best I stayed away from the internet. (Well, light on the debauchery but heavy on the drunken part. Haha!) So today’s Monday, my plate is clear, and I’m ready to share my thoughts with you, my Loves. As a refresher, here’s a little snippet from Cynthia Hand’s website:
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.
So I really loved Unearthly by Cynthia Hand! It’s been compared to the Fallen Series (which I thought was meh) and the Hush, Hush Series (still my favorite, even after reading this) so if you enjoyed those, you might want to check it out. Anyway, I was totally hoping Ms. Hand would be able to take the Nephilim theme in a new direction that I’d hadn’t experienced; which can be hard since I’ve read a LOT of Fallen/Angel/Nephilim books; but she delivered. In this series, “angel bloods” are given a task or Purpose that they must fulfill. The timing of the Purpose and delivery method vary from person to person. For Clara, it came in the form of visions (sometimes at highly inopportune moments like driving and in the middle of class presentations). Snippets that she had to piece together and figure out. The ‘why’ has to be taken on faith though. As if getting through the teen years weren’t hard enough…..
Our main character is Clara. She’s is a 1/4 angel, her mother being 1/2, but that doesn’t stop Clara from having some pretty cool angel powers in her own right. She’s fairly agile which makes sports exceptionally easy for her and she also pretty smart. Before learning about her genetic past, she always just thought she was lucky to be able to pick things up so quickly. She’s also very down to earth and that made her a wonderfully believable character. Clara doesn’t see herself as gorgeous – she hates that’s she’s so tall and has knobby knees and crazy, unruly hair that sometimes glows. She also feels exceptionally awkward around boys (read: Christian Prescott) – unless they annoy her like Tucker Avery. Like most 16 year olds, Clara second guesses herself too. Especially when it comes to figuring out her purpose and whether or not she’ll be able to accomplish it. I enjoy a self-confidant female lead but I don’t care for them to be too into themselves or whiny. Cynthia Hand walked a nice line with balancing Clara out.
Of course, no self respecting YA series wouldn’t be complete without the fellas. Enter Christian and Tucker. Two absolutely different guys. Christian Prescott is the resident hottie at Jackson Hole High. He’s kind, smart, good looking, the complete package. He’s also got a girlfriend which complicates things for Clara. You see, Christian is her mission. Or to be more specific, she’s supposed to save him from a wildfire. In Clara’s vision, they seem to know each other and she’s convinced that they are in a relationship. In a way, Clara is already half in love and obsessed with Christian before ever actually meeting him. This makes for some uncomfortable and embarrassing moments. The word “stalker” comes to mind.
Tucker Avery, on the other hand, immediately rubs Clara the wrong way. Come on, the guy dubbed her ‘Carrots’ for Pete’s sake. While liked by everyone and not too bad looking himself, Tucker’s your quintessential cowboy next door. Need a tow out of snow bank, he’s your guy. Need someone to teach you fly fishing, call up Tuck. Unfortunately for Clara, Tucker is the one that keeps showing up to save her when all she wants to do is concentrate on Christian. He even keeps her company while everyone heads out of town for summer break. How can she be with Christian in her vision when she’s developing feelings for Tucker?
Finally, a kick-ass heroine needs a partner in crime and Clara finds one in Angela Zerbino. Angela is also Nephilim but she doesn’t have it as easy as Clara. Angela’s mother was raped by a Dark Wing (a.k.a. a Fallen Angel) and so Angela has no one to help her learn about her abilities. No one to talk to when her wings first appear or why an Angel would even bother going after her mother like that. She becomes engrossed in Angel information, trying to learn as much as she can about her heritage and this proves very beneficial for Clara because Clara’s mother has some major aversion to answering her questions when it comes to other Angels. Clara helps Angela by filling in some gaps in the more practical aspects of being Nephilim.
While this is a series, the main story line does wrap up in this one book. That’s another plus for me – when book series operate more like television shows. I don’t mind that the overarching plot is still continuing but I like when the matter at hand is at least settled. I hate getting to the last page and there’s still story to be told. I feel cheated. Don’t get me wrong, this can’t be read as a stand alone book. However, it does leave you both satisfied and at the same time, wanting to know more about this world Ms. Hand has created.
Okay, so now that I’ve spent all this time gushing, I suppose I should get to what I didn’t think worked:
- Let’s start with Wendy Avery. I liked her as a character but I felt that she was just a plot device used to introduce Clara to Tucker. Once Angela showed up, Wendy didn’t play much of a part except to emphasize the two worlds (human and Nephilim) that Clara is straddling. By the end, Wendy had basically faded into the background.
- I also didn’t care for Clara’s mother. She was a good mother on the whole and I’m still curious about her (like who were those two male Alpha-Angels?), but the lack of information sharing got to be annoying. I know and agree that there are some things a body just has to learn through experience but a Mom can help a kid out. Especially when it could put said kid in danger. A little tickle in my brain says that Clara is her mother’s Purpose.
- Christian, while swoon-worthy, paled in comparison to Tucker. That could’ve been on purpose but if he’s supposed to be the main reason for Clara’s move from California, I would’ve expected more page time and more feels. I also lost some love for him when even though I wasn’t completely right, I figured out what was special about Christian halfway through the book. Maybe it’s because this is my favorite genre and I’ve read too many books like this one. I don’t know. But I wasn’t all that surprised at the big reveal.
- Lastly, I wasn’t a huge fan of how the story started out. The reader comes in to Clara already knowing she’s part Angel. She’s already (mostly) dealt with how she feels about that fact too. I, as the reader, was left playing catch-up. Almost like coming in 15 minutes late to a movie. I missed the set-up, the background. To be fair, it was sprinkled in throughout the story in the form of flashbacks and the book was already hefty enough (435 pages!) but still, it wasn’t my favorite beginning.
Ultimately, I gave Unearthly 4-stars on my Goodreads page. It’s definitely a promising start and I’m excited to pick the next book in the series, Hallowed.
Have you read Unearthly? Did you like it? What about Hallowed or Boundless, the next two in the series?
Reviews 4 Star Review Angels Contemporary Cynthia Hand Fallen Angels Fantasy Fiction Love Triangle Nephilim Romance Series YA
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