Monday, March 7, 2011

Unearthly: angel story paranormal fans can get behind

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.

Book Review:
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

5 out of 5 stars angel story we paranormal fans can get behind. Today's angel stories are riddled with weak heroines, obsessive "love interests", and shoddy mythology (Fallen and Halo, anyone?). With its strong characters, swoon-worthy guys, and unique angel lore, Unearthly is now my gold-star standard for angel books.

I grew up on a ranch near where this story takes place, so reading Unearthly felt like coming home. Cynthia Hand creates a vivid setting and characters that spoke to me. She perfectly captures the western charm of Wyoming and Idaho (Tucker, anyone?) and I couldn't put this stunning debut down.

Unearthly really shines in its characterization. Cynthia creates a strong, likeable heroine through Clara's voice and actions. Instead of being the well-worn whimpering heroine who needs everyone to save her, Clara is smart and resourceful, yet relatable and believable. Too many authors try to make their heroine appear strong by making her cold or distant or unfeminine, but Clara is warm and kind and isn't afraid to wear a dress. She faces challenges and struggles but doesn't let them overcome her. (None of that "I'm going to DIIIIIIIE" because of boy troubles for our heroine.) From Clara's friends to her mom, Cynthia Hand creates engaging, believable characters that I care about.

Tucker. You had me from "Carrots." It was Anne and Gilbert all over again, and I loved it. Cynthia weaves some delicious romantic tension between Clara and Tucker that had me coming back chapter after chapter (I may or may not have let my kids play at the park for hours so I could stay on my bench and keep reading). Instead of the ridiculous "I loved you because I saw you from across the hall" that's way too prevalent in today's young adult books, Cynthia lets the attraction simmer and build, with a lot of "pulling the hair" antics and teasing along the way that had me smiling. It felt real and believable, and I LOVED IT.

Unearthly is an enchanting tale oozing with unputdownable qualities. It delivers on the promises made by that gorgeous cover with its believable, likeable characters; intriguing mythology that reveals just enough to be satisfying but holds back some answers for a sequel; and one of the most team-deserving guys to grace the pages of young adult literature in a long time.

I am seriously clamoring for a sequel.

1 comment:

  1. Loved this review! I'm glad to find another book that isnt' love at first sight. ANd I grew up along the Utah Wyoming border, so I love books that incorportate the beauty and feel of the West.