Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Review: Unearthly - Cynthia Hand

Published: January 4th 2011, HarperTeen
Series?: Yes, the second book (untitled at the moment) is due out in 2012
Acquired: Sent for review via Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads): 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.

My review: Unearthly already seems like it’s going to be one of the biggest books of 2011. Reviews of it are everywhere and I haven’t seen a bad review of it yet. Although I have said before I’m beginning to tire of unoriginal paranormal romances, I really did enjoy Unearthly. It swept me off my feet and shook up the genre. Finally!

I knew from the outset that Clara was going to be a fun narrator. She’s great – funny, a little na├»ve and really relatable, even though she just happens to be part angel. She’s beginning to has visions of her purpose (the job she was put on this earth to do) and, after managing to determine where her purpose is going to take place, she moves across the country to a new town and a new school, along with her part angel mother and disgruntled younger brother.

Once Clara’s family make the move to Wyoming the pace of the novel really does pick up. We meet Christian (the boy from her visions), the mysterious Angela and Clara’s new best friend Wendy. Oh, and Wendy’s sarcastic twin brother, Tucker.

Clara’s friendships definitely help to make Unearthly a brilliant read. Her relationship with Wendy is one of her only ‘normal’ human friendships and it was nice to see her be able to relax and act like a regular teenage girl every so often. Tucker is great and I couldn’t help but warm to him, despite his constant digs at Clara. While Christian is portrayed as the gorgeous hero that we’re so used to seeing, he did actually have a distinct personality.

Unearthly is so much more than ‘part angel girl loves human boy’. We see Clara’s family dynamic, we learn about the world and culture of the angels and, despite everything otherworldly that’s happening to her, we still get to see Clara go through everyday teenage struggles, which helps to make this book so much more accessible.

I do think Unearthly had a few pacing problems, as the speed rose and fell quite sharply. At times it did feel as though Unearthly is two separate books. The first half has a completely different tone from the second half and I have to say I really fell in love with this book in the second half.

The last fifty pages or so were absolutely hectic but in a brilliant way and I loved the writer’s use of short, snappy sentences and frantic dialogue to bring the novel to a close. I’m really pleased there’s going to be a second book in the series, as I think there’s a lot more to explore and find out about Clara, Tucker and the rest of the characters.

First line: ‘In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees.’

Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5
Total: 16/20 (B+)

Author’s blog
Goodreads page

Alternative covers:


  1. Isn't the alternate cover so much better? I'm glad you liked it, personally I thought Unearthly was a delight :)

  2. I loved this one and want that red dress!

  3. I want it I want it - by the way did I say I want it. Great review :D Now I want it even more LOL

  4. This book looks great! I can't wait to read it!

  5. Oh my god, I'd not seen that cover with the gorgeous red dress. Love that way more than the boring blue tinge on everything. I admit, I've had this one off of netgalley and haven't gotten around to reading it. I really should, I haven't seen a bad review either. But something is holding me back..

  6. I bought Unearthy as a last minute thing, I was going on holiday and already had a book but decided I wanted another because I knew I'd finish them, and it really surprised me, I loved it.

  7. The storyline pulled me in from the very first paragraph and kept me engross till the very end just praying it wouldn't end. There were parts that were predictable while others just caught me by surprise but yet it totally fit the story and I can now see how I missed the subtle clues letting me know what was coming.

  8. does anyone know where i could get a dress like that!!


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