Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

E-ARC copy received for review from NetGalley and HarperTeen with thanks!
Unearthly is published January 4th in the US.

"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 it 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 deciet, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?"

Where to start...Oh. Freaking. Hell. I adored this book from beginning to end! There are times when you can start a book and from page one you know you’re on to a winner. Something that just sings to you, the character’s voice, the setting, whatever it is, just ‘clicks’ and you know you’re in for a great read, something that will be a lasting favourite. That was this book for me. I started it, loved chapter one and could barely put it down.

Clara is a 16 year old who two years previous found out that her mother is half angel. Making her a quarter angel. It took some adjusting, but she did. Now she’s starting to get visions, her ‘purpose’. They show a boy in the middle of a forest fire and Clara knows she has to save him. Going on the clues in her visions, she ends up moving, along with her mom and younger brother, from California to a small town in Wyoming. There she meets a boy, the boy, the one from her visions. But nothing is simple.

Clara has to fight to fit in at a new school, hide her ever growing angel powers, and figure out how to get close to the boy from the vision so she can do what she must when the time is right. Problems arise quickly as Clara begins to realise her mother has kept a lot about angels secret from her, because apparently she needs to find out for herself. The more Clara discovers though, the more danger she realises she faces. Fighting with her mom, hunting for her place in this new town, struggling to get close to the boy. None of it should have been so hard. Also, there was never meant to be another boy.

As I already said, I loved this book. It’s beautiful, smart, funny in just the right places and heart wrenching at times as well. I was hooked from page one where we enter Clara’s vision. The description of the scene drew me in so easily I felt like I was right there, and yet there is no overload of description at any point. It’s simple but powerful.

The characters are very well drawn, well rounded and easy to love. Even before we get to know some of them better, you get a great sense of them from how Clara sees them, and occasionally from comment from someone else. I love Clara. She’s the perfect blend of vulnerable, strong and awkward. Her struggling to fit in at a new school is something I find very easy to relate to, and the way she felt and dealt with it felt very real. I love the chemistry between the characters, whether its friendship or romantic based, they all have this spark between them that makes them come alive. Makes the more common conversations seem like more. You can really feel the depth and strength of certain relationships, and the uneasy edge to others.

The setting itself, the small town in the mountains, the small town school where everyone’s known each other since kindergarten, is almost as alive as the characters. Cynthia’s descriptions keep everything alive, but again, without overload. Very few books manage to make me feel so involved as this did in every aspect.

The story holds up just as well as the characters. I liked the twists alongside recognizable mythology. I like how there are different levels of angel and how the powers differ depending on what level they are. I liked that things were not straight forward or what I first thought. Some things were, but some I never saw coming. Towards the end in particular I kept trying to figure out what was going on and I just couldn’t. I held my breath through the last several chapters as the tension grew almost too much at times. My heart ached for Clara as she faced some big obstacles and incredibly hard decisions, and yes there were a few tears involved as well.

There was nothing about this book I didn’t love. And I adored one of the two guys in this. He’s just...perfect really. I just hope I am, for once, on the right side of this and he gets the girl in the end! I’ve got a few little theories about what could happen next, and some thoughts on one character in particular and the role they could play in the next book, but nothing I feel close to sure of. The ending was fantastic. It revealed some big things, but also left a lot of questions. Not the kind that frustrate, but the kind that made me wish I had book 2 sat beside me already! It’s going to be a very, very long wait for it. Stunning debut, fantastic book, and easily one of my favourite reads of the year. An absolute Must Have!!

Rating: 10/10


Jessica said...

Great review Cem! I liked this one as well. Had a surprising ending too! My review will go up later this month!

Avery said...

Yay! I am so looking forward to this book and I am glad that it is getting good reviews! That always makes it nice...

BTW Cem, I just finished "Mockingbird", and I gotta agree with you... It may have been a waste of money. :/

Clover said...

I keep hearing wonderful, wonderful things about this one. I requested it on netgalley but haven't recieved any response as yet :(