By Cynthia Hand
January 4, 2011
HarperTeen, 448 pages
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.
— GoodReads.com description
If you're thinking, "Oh, no, not another angel book," stop it right now.
Okay, so, yeah, it totally is another angel book. And that's definitely what I was thinking too. But shush and listen for a second.
I spent half of the book forgetting there was any supernatural business going on. So much of the book felt like a sweet contemporary romance that it's sure to appeal to the paranormal-wary.
The story was very well-crafted, with breadcrumb hints of future plot points scattered throughout to make it a page-turner from start to finish. And, oh, that finish! I could not stop thinking of this book for a day after I'd read it. There is a sequel on the way, but who can wait that long?
Beyond the romance (which, duh, always comes first), the best part of the book for me was the setting. Nature almost became a second character at a certain point. Cynthia Hand beautifully described the story's Wyoming setting, from the looming forests to the crisp ski slopes. The attention to detail here made the scenes pop in my imagination. Beautiful.
Now, I have to share my mental casting, because it was so clear to me throughout: Brando Eaton as Tucker and Darren Criss as Christian. Thoughts from anyone who's read Unearthly? Can you see it?
If you like this book, you might also like: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, another paranormal book that felt like so much more to me!
PS: Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for my review copy of this book.