Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I loved this book! Unearthly is a beautiful new supernatural romance story from a debut author. Clara is part angel, and when she starts having visions of a boy in trouble she prepares to leave her home in California and, supported by her mother, moves across the country to try to bring about the events as she sees them in her vision. It is her "purpose" as an angel to try to save the boy- that's if she can find him and find out who he is. I liked the fact that we are plunged straight into Clara's world. There is no discovery that she is part angel, she just knows that she is and has accepted it. When she eventually meets Christian she then has the difficult task of trying to get him to notice her. Clara knows that if she can just get him to be her friend (and girlfriend?), then it will make her task of trying to save him so much easier.
Despite being a quarter angel, Clara is still the typical teenager with problems fitting in, and she lacks confidence a lot of the time to do the enormous challenge expected of her. Clara is flawed and insecure, but a good person, and the kind of girl that you would want to be friends with. I loved all of the characters in this book- from Clara's angelic mother, her annoying younger brother, and her quirky new best friends at the "invisibles" table in the school cafeteria. But by far my favourite character is Tucker- Clara's new friend Wendy's obnoxious brother. Despite a bad start when Clara almost drives into him, and Tucker making fun of Clara at every chance he gets, they do slowly warm up to each other and become good friends.
Tucker teaches her how to ski and fish and hike, and almost manages to distract her from her task of trying to save Christian. Tucker is hard-working, and rough around the edges, but ultimately very sweet. The playful banter between Clara and Tucker provides some of the best scenes in the book. I love the fact that their relationship is not just instantaneous, but built upon spending time with other and really getting to know about each other. Clara is so often torn between doing what she wants to do, and doing what is expected of her, and throughout reading this I genuinely didn't know what was going to happen. This builds up the tension all the way through this book. Clara is very sweet and well-intentioned, but when she is forced to choose between her duty and her heart she has to make some very difficult choices.
The setting of this novel is also fantastic. I was lucky enough to visit Jackson Hole while travelling a few years ago, and so I can really picture the setting- the forest, the unique pine trees, the mountains and the snake river. I really enjoyed reading the lush descriptions of the place and the people brought vividly to life, and the setting became like an extra character in the book for me. (I always picture Tucker in a cowboy hat in his truck with country music blaring from the radio, driving through the forest past log cabin houses.)
Unearthly is well-written, with a relatable and funny main character and excellent secondary characters, plus an exciting mythology full of good angels, bad angels, and part angels, and a well-paced love story, with a twist at the end. This book is also very fresh and not at all predictable. The drama of this story is nicely wrapped up at the end, (no cliff-hanger, phew!) but still left open for a sequel. Of all the teenage paranormal romance books out there at the moment this is definitely one of the better ones- a real must-read for this year, highly recommended, and I cannot wait for the sequel Hallowed next year.
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