Unearthly by Cynthia Hand, published by Egmont on 2nd May 2011
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?
I'm afraid that I'm going to gush terribly in this review because I really and truly loved this book. I was sad to finish it and am literally going to be on tenterhooks until the second book in the trilogy, Hallowed, is published. I have no idea how I'm going to cope with the long wait!
'Unearthly' was everything I look for in a book and more. It was instantly captivating and made me forget everything and everyone around me when I was reading it. The story flowed beautifully, I adored the characters and it kept me fascinated and intrigued throughout. The plot, although based around the angel mythology which is heavily prevalent in the YA market at the moment, was still original and different and the premise appealed to me from the start. The writing fairly flowed off the page and the characters came to life before my eyes.
I adored the love triangle-esque aspect of the story too. Clara, the main character, finds that she's pulled in different directions and is torn between gorgeous and seemingly perfect Christian Prescott and rough and ready Tucker Avery, who she starts off having somewhat of a love-hate relationship with, before she finally gets to know the real Tucker. I loved both boys but I have to say that Tucker was my favourite. Without wanting to spoil anything for those who haven't read the book yet, I adored the way in which his character was written and the fact that there's a lot more to Tucker than you originally see. He's pretty old-fashioned at times, but in an appealing way and he's certainly full of surprises. I'm looking forward to seeing how the relationship between Clara and the two boys eventually develops.
Clara is a wonderful protagonist and immensely likeable. I enjoyed seeing the close relationship she has with her mother and brother, along with her interactions with the many secondary characters she meets throughout the book. I liked the fact that she may be part-angel but she doesn't have all the answers and although many things come easily to her, she still has to struggle with her abilities at times. This made her very real and allowed me to identify with her and her experiences.
If I had to make any criticism (and believe me, it's extremely hard to find anything wrong with this book), it would probably be that I found the ending a little bit of an anti-climax, but saying that, I still thought it was executed well and laid all the foundations for what should be a phenomenal trilogy.
'Unearthly' is one of the best angel books I've ever read. It's utterly compulsive reading and a stellar opening. Cynthia Hand, I commend you!!