Tuesday, January 18, 2011

UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand

Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Number of Pages: 435
How I Got It: Bought the Hardcover

Goodreads Summary:  
     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.

This is a really interesting paranormal because it reads more like a contemporary. It was hard to put down and moved forward with an urgency to Clara's angel purpose and figuring out the good angels vs. Black Wings showdown that I could tell was coming, and had a take on the angel back story that was really interesting. I also really liked that Clara knew from the start that she was an angel-blood and was figuring out how to deal with it while trying to remain a normal high school girl. Along with this, this story had a true sense of a contemporary with a high school girl stuck between following her purpose to what she's told should do or following her heart to what she wants to do. Of course, those paths tie directly in with the two boys that she is dealing with - Christan (the boy from her purpose vision) and Tucker (her best friend's twin brother). I did definitely have a preference for one through the whole story, even before I knew he could be a real possibility for her, and when something finally developed, I enjoyed those parts of the story - in fact I think they were my favorites.

The story also deals a lot with family dynamics between Clara and her mother as another piece of the typical coming-of-age decision-making process Clara is going through - following the path her mother wants, or striking out on her own. Of course, with the angel background, it also portrays beliefs and fate and faith as thought-provoking conversations. This book, ultimately, is about decisions and choices and why we choose what we do and the impact that can have on others and ourselves. Early in the story, Clara's English teacher is talking about how people really get to know each other and wonders if it based on the actions we take - that nicely sets up the strong undercurrent of choices for the entire book. It also deals with the typical adolescent views on finding one's place in the world and having that change based on situations one encounters.

Another piece of this book that I really liked was the setting. The move to Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a big one for Clara and her family, and the descriptions of the setting and the way the author makes good use of the scenery available by the story taking place there adds greatly to the overall feelings of the story for the reader. I had a good time getting to know Clara and Tucker, but I was left feeling like there were things I was missing from other characters in Clara's life. I wanted to know a little more about some of the characters and what was going on with them - I have some lingering doubts about the intentions of some of them. I was left with a little bit of a sense of a let down by some of the pieces that I felt like I should have known more about, but didn't get in this book. Overall, I liked the book, and read it quickly, but as much as it wraps things up, it still ends with a lot of loose or unsure ends in my mind, and now there will be a long wait until the next book to find out where things go.

The second book in the series will be coming out next year & I'll definitely be looking for it.

Book 2 of 12 for DAC 2011

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