Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Unearthly #1
Pages: 435
Genre: Paranormal
Release Date: January 4, 2011
How Received: Netgalley

SummaryIn 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:
Unearthly is my first angel novel, and I have to say that I picked a really good angel novel to come into.

Most of the book involves Clara’s day to day life, and her questions of the angel blood that resides within her. I loved that Unearthly blended in the normal with the paranormal so seamlessly. It added much more realism to the story overall. I, for one, was able to enjoy the scenes in school and in the cafeteria.

Clara was such an amazing character. She has one of the few first person perspectives that doesn’t make me want to rip my hair out. Not only is she logical and sound in most of her decisions, but she’s loyal to her friends and family, and she learns how to form her own opinions on things. She’s a believable teenager – she makes mistakes a couple of times, but she learns through them, and she has her own insecurities and doubts. She stood up to her fears, miniscule and big things alike, and constantly rose up to meet the taunts Tucker threw at her. Her character development was so exponential, and I found myself really enjoying reading about her.

The romance... Oh boy, the romance. The only other romance that had me feeling so sweet, giggly, and excited was Violet and Jay’s romance form The Body Finder. Coming from me, that is such huge praise. Clara and Tucker start off indifferent to each other. They mostly stay out of each others’ way. But then Tucker starts being “mean” to her, laying on the sarcasm very hard – typical grade school, poking-you-in-the-back boyish fashion. But Tucker himself wasn’t mean. He’s charming, witty, sarcastic, kind, loyal, and very gentlemanly. It was so easy to spot Tucker’s attraction to her, even though Clara couldn’t. Their romance developed over the course of the summer. It was sweet, it was languid, and it was amazing. I found myself falling in love with Tucker.

The writing in Unearthly was superb. I’m not even sure how to describe it as. It was easy to follow, very fluid, and had a conversational tone to it. It had a plethora of description, but that didn’t take away from the pacing of the plot. I’d turn a couple of pages and realize how much just actually transpired. The pacing was great – hardly anything lulled, and it kept my attention and before I knew it, I was finished!

That ending at the end seriously made me want more... now. It isn’t that cliffhangery, but there are a lot of questions posed and a blank slate in front of Clara now, so I’m curious to see where the next book goes with that! I’m eager to see what Clara does now, and to learn more about the angels Cynthia’s concocted for us.

Cover MusingsG-o-r-g-e-o-u-s. ‘Nuff said.

Memorable Quotes:
I also recorded my experiments, like the time I cut my forearm with a knife just to see if I would bleed (which I did, a lot) and carefully noted how long it took to heal (about twenty four hours, from when I made the cut to when the little pink line completely disappeared), the time I spoke Swahili to a man in the San Francisco airport (imagine the surprise for both of us), or how I could do twenty-five grand jet├ęs back and foth across the floor of the ballet studio without getting winded. (pg. 16)
I stare at her in dismay. Mom has tried to teach me to fly exactly two times, and both were complete disasters. In fact, I’ve essentially given up on the idea of flight altogether and accepted that I’m going to be an angel-blood who stays earthbound, a flightless bird, like an ostrich maybe, or, in this weather, a penguin. (pg. 25)
I hope there aren’t any, oh I don’t know, forest fires before he gets back. But there can’t be, can there? The fire can’t take place unless he’s there, right? Is it possible to miss my purpose because my subject won’t cooperate? (pg. 158)
He shakes his head. “Your eyebrows. They’re, like, dark gold.”
“You’re staring at my eyebrows now?”
“I’m looking at you. Why are you always trying to hide how pretty you are?” (pg. 182)
“What do you see in a guy like Christian Prescott?” he asked me that night when he dropped me off from prom. And what he was really saying then, what would have come through loud and clear if I hadn’t been so blind was, Why don’t you see me? (pg. 183)
I sit up. Maybe I should have figured this out a long time ago. I shouldn’t have needed to read his heart in order to see it. But when I felt all that love rising up in him, I didn’t know I was inside his head. I didn’t notice that the feelings weren’t mine. And why is that?
Easy.
It’s all me, the human part, the angel part. I love [him]. (pg. 200)
“Not red,” I say with a shrug.
“I always felt like there was something off about your hair.”
“So you thought you’d torture me by calling me Carrots?”
“I still thought I’d never seen anyone as beautiful as you.” He drops his head and rubs the back of his neck, embarrassed. He’s blushing. (pg. 205)
I love how he sometimes gets embarrassed by all the mushy stuff between us and then his voice gets all gruff and he tickles me or kisses me to shut us both up. Boy, do we ever kiss. We make out like champions. (pg. 206)
What can I say? Sorry, I know it seemed like I was crazy about you before, but that was before. I have a boyfriend now? You snooze you lose? (pg. 214)
Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: I had a hard time reviewing Unearthly because truly, how can I even begin to convey how amazing this book is? I don’t think I can; I don’t think I did. For a while, the “my thoughts” section only had “OMG THIS BOOK WAS SO AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”. No joke. But I figured none of you would appreciate such a short review, so I tried to get my act together. :P The characters in this book were great – I’d love having Clara, Angela, or Wendy as my friends – and the romance totally made me swoon. Almost as much as Violet and Jay’s romance in The Body Finder (again, that is HIGH praise, coming from me). It was addicting and just oh so good! I’m kind of upset that we have to wait so long for the second book. =(

Rating: 5/5

*This review was submitted in the 2011 Debut Author Challenge!
**I received a digital copy of Unearthly from the publisher via Netgalley. Thank you HarperTeen and Netgalley!