Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Unearthly (Unearthly #1)
By Cynthia Hand
Publisher:
HarperTeen

To Sum It Up:

As a quarter angel-blood, Clara Gardner has a purpose, the reason why she was put on Earth, to fulfill. She knows that the event is fast approaching because she is increasingly seeing visions of a boy standing in the middle of a raging forest fire. Once her visions give her a better idea of where she needs to be, Clara and her family uproot themselves to Wyoming. It’s there at her new school that Clara finds Christian Prescott, the boy from her visions. Clara’s purpose seems to be clear, but unforeseen circumstances may force her to make a difficult decision that could have serious consequences for her future.

Review:

Oh, how I adored Unearthly! Just when I was becoming paranoid that there was some divine message in the fact that angel book after angel book failed to click with me, Unearthly turned out to be the angel book that I’d been searching for. The lore, the characters, the setting, the writing, and the story were all simply wonderful. Warning: this is going to be a gushy, possibly incoherent review because I want to write about everything that I loved all at once. There will be liberal use of the word “love,” too.

The angel mythology in Unearthly strikes just the right note, taking the usual images associated with angels (wings, superhuman strength, an ethereal glow) and making them completely plausible. I thought the idea of all angels having a purpose was a nice twist on the concept of them as protectors. What really makes Cynthia Hand’s representation of angels stand out, though, is how they lead pretty normal lives considering that they’re otherworldly beings and all. Some of the previous angel books that I’ve read put so much emphasis on the characters’ angelic traits that I felt as though I never got to know the characters for themselves. Unearthly’s Clara is a very relatable protagonist who happens to be able to fly and occasionally glows.

I really liked Clara. She’s smart in the intelligent sense as well as smart in the smart-alecky sense. I loved her wry narration. Despite the advantages that her angel blood provides, such as a knack for sports and languages, she is refreshingly grounded. When Clara’s not worrying about fulfilling her purpose, she’s caught up in the regular teenage business, like fitting in at her new school and not making a fool of herself in front of Christian, the guy she’s supposed to save. You get a full picture of what life is like for Clara; she has this single, momentous mission looming ahead of her, but she’s still a teenager who wants to enjoy a normal teenage life. The fact that Clara is not a normal teenager but rather a superhuman being with a very great responsibility figures prominently throughout the novel.

I never imagined myself, a city girl through and through, falling for a cowboy like Tucker Avery, but it was impossible not to. He’s such a genuine, heart-on-his-sleeve type of guy; I could not help but swoon whenever his name appeared on the page. I loved his straightforward manner, that he said whatever was on his mind. Tucker also excels at sarcasm, which, enjoying snark as much as I do, I found absolutely charming. Dear Cynthia Hand: please do not let anything bad happen to Tucker. I have become too invested in his well-being to bear seeing any harm befall him.

I just loved (there’s that word yet again!) reading Unearthly. It’s a superbly crafted novel that brings angels to realistic life and makes me want to see the majestic beauty of Jackson Hole, Wyoming in person. It’s a novel that is in no hurry to cut to the romance; it builds subtly, making it that much sweeter. Most importantly, though, this is a novel that proved that I could love an angel book.

All in All:

Best. Angel. Book. Ever. A HUGE thanks to Miss J at Miss Book Reviews for recommending this!

20 comments:

  1. I agree 110% with this entire review!! I just read Unearthly, and then shortly after read Hallowed (still waiting for Boundless) and i LOVE this series!! I agree that the angel-ness was just the right ammount. Making it more paranormal than preachy!! :)

    Great review
    -Theresa Jones

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    1. Cynthia Hand's take on angels was just extremely well-done and certainly the best interpretation I've read about. I'm so happy to hear that you love the series, too! And Boundless was AMAZING!

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  2. that is a pretty gushy review but it just shows me how much you loved it! I also really liked Clara as a main protagonist, and Tucker! me TOO! I am not too fond of the other guy in this love triangle though. I can't wait to pick up hallowed

    great review!
    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

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    1. Hooray for Tucker! The weird thing is, although I certainly don't love Christian, I could never find a reason to hate him, either, especially as the series went on. I loved both Hallowed and Boundless- hope you do, too!

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  3. I have to say, Angels aren't really my thing that much. I've read a couple of Angel books, but I have tended to avoid them in general. However, this book I have been eying for a couple of weeks now.

    I love your gushy review and the fact that MC is actually relatable is certainly selling me the book.

    Great review. I can't wait to pick this one up now! :)

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    1. I've had the worst luck with angel books and didn't know what to expect from this, but to my pleasant surprise, it completely clicked with me. I hope you decided to give it a try!

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  4. I need to read this series! Great review!

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    1. It's one of my all-time favorites! I'm still in a bit of denial that it's all over now. :(

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  5. Unearthly is a really good take an angels, I loved the mythology. I liked that Clara was such a normal girl, and I agree with you, I never thought I would fall for a cowboy, but Tucker was just irresistible. I still have to read the sequel, and I can't wait.
    Great review :)

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    1. I loved Clara's sense of humor; I found it very similar to my own, and that was a big part of why I connected with her. And Tucker- *swoon.* I don't think I'll ever look at carrots again without thinking of him!

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  6. Hey Lee,

    I'm trying to decide if this book is for me. Is it fair to compare it to the series Fallen in terms of the way Angels are described or is it better then that particular series? I'm not the biggest Fallen fan, but the only other angel relate book I've read is Daughter of Smoke and Bone and any mention of angels in Mortal Instruments.

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    1. I haven't read the Fallen series, so unfortunately, I'm not able to compare Unearthly with it. It's different from Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Mortal Instruments, both of which I have read, in that it focuses solely on angels. You have both the good kind and the bad kind (called Black Wings), and the Black Wings' role becomes increasingly prominent as the series goes on. I'd say that the emphasis of the first book is more on Clara's struggle to balance being a normal teenager with fulfilling her angelic purpose. Naturally, the two are often at odds with one another.

      I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!

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  7. I'd agree with Liza that so far only the Laini Taylor take on angels has tickled my fancy, but your write up has me thinking Unearthly is well worth a try. Great review, Lee!

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    1. After several disappointing angel reads, I was skeptical going into this, but I loved it. I do hope you decide to give this a try, Katja!

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  8. All my doubts are slowly dissolving into nothing... :) In general, I hate most Paranormal Romances and Angel books in particular, but I've heard nothing but good things about this trilogy and now this awesome review...I feel like heading out and buying the books right away :D

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    1. I've had a rocky relationship with angel books myself and was relieved to find out that this one was so unlike the others that I'd read. I think it's going to be hard for me to find another angel series to top Unearthly.

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  9. I will admit that this is the first angel book I've ever read, so I really lucked out with how awesome it was. Because boy oh boy is this book great! I was so impressed with it, and I loved how different it seems from a lot of other angels books (Hush, Hush, Halo, etc.) I agree with all of this, Lee!

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    1. Wow! You were incredibly lucky, Renae! I went through a string of angel books that failed to click with me, including Hush, Hush, before reading Unearthly. I read about 30 pages of Halo before deciding it wasn't going to work out, either. My track record with angel books was so lousy, I was a little worried that the next one I tried was going to burn when I touched it or something. Fortunately, that didn't happen, lol.

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  10. You should come and visit Nashville and we'll see if w can find you a cowboy LOL


    What I loved about this book is the conflict in the love triangle. One is the one she wants to be with while the other is the one she's supposed to be with. I have to catch up and see who ends up with whom. Happy to see you enjoyed this book, Lee!

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    1. My very own cowboy? That sounds like a fantastic reason to visit Nashville, lol.

      You definitely need to catch up, Braine! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the rest of the series.

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