Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Review: UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand

Title: Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly #1

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? 

Why I read it: I wanted to read an entire trilogy on vacation, and this was the one that caught my eye!

Thoughts: I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would.

I knew I would probably enjoy it at least somewhat; I just wasn't sure how much. Part of that uncertainty came from the fact that this is a paranormal romance. These were all the rage back in the post-Twilight days; there was even an entire section of YA devoted to them in Barnes & Noble for a while. They come in all different varieties of paranormal: vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, aliens, etc. And honestly, I've mostly avoided the genre. Don't get me wrong; I live for romance in a book. I'm ten times less likely to read a book if there's no romance at all, no chance for swoons. But I have to have a plot, as well, and my number one fear of reading paranormal romances nowadays is "too much romance, not enough plot."

Also, the last time I tried to read an angel book with a girl in a pretty dress on the cover, it was not a fun time. (Bonus points if you know what book I'm talking about.)

So I went into this series with a bit of trepidation. Luckily, my fears were banished by the end of the first book.

The book begins with Clara receiving her purpose, though she doesn't yet know all of it, or what any of it means. Clara's purpose uproots her family from California and deposits them in Jackson, Wyoming, where her visions are telling her she's meant to be. From there, it's a journey to find out what her true purpose is, how she's supposed to fulfill it, and how to balance her angelic side with her normal, everyday life.

Clara is a fantastic protagonist. When we first meet Clara, it's only been a few months since she learned of her angelic heritage, so she's still figuring things out along with the reader. But despite the fact that Clara has supernatural powers and a purpose she's fated to fulfill, she's still a very normal teenage girl who worries about what her hair looks like and what her classmates think of her. And I loved that.

Clara's mother is also an angel-blood, and while she teaches Clara a lot about what that means, she also keeps a great many secrets from her. But I still loved Clara's relationship with her mom, and the way they can never stay mad at each other because they've always basically been best friends. Clara's little brother, Jeffrey, is also navigating his life as an angel-blood, and it's fascinating to read about the three of them together.

Now let's move on to Christian and Tucker, our love interests. Yes, there is a love triangle. But you should know by now that I actually like love triangles when done properly, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Christian is the mysterious boy in Clara's vision, so she knows he factors into her future somehow. But Tucker is the boy who throws a wrench into everything, and makes Clara more confused than ever.

I will say that I was a Tucker fan from the moment we met him. Clara and Tucker's relationship at first is slightly combative and sarcastic, and we all know I love relationships that grow from antagonism. But Christian does have his merits, and it was easy to see why Clara had feelings for both of them. They are both decidedly swoon-worthy.

I love the mystery of Clara's vision, and seeing the hints peppered throughout the book as to what will happen. The twists and reveals that happen are perfectly plotted and foreshadowed, and I definitely guessed at least one of them, but I was taken by surprise by the others. When Clara's visions finally come true, it's a rollercoaster ride from there to the end, including the introduction of a very intriguing antagonist.

The other thing I really liked about this book was the mythology of the angel-bloods. It's very original, like nothing I've ever read before. I loved learning about angel-bloods and their powers, and about the different kinds of angels and and angel-bloods. Every new piece of information felt like a piece of a puzzle, a small part of the bigger picture.

My only problem with this book is that it was a little slow in parts. The pacing is mostly fine, but there just isn't quite enough action to go around in a book this size. There's a very slow build from the beginning of the book to the climax, and then it's intense until the end. But it didn't lessen my enjoyment for this book by much.

If you, like me, are wary of the paranormal romance genre, I recommend you giving this book a chance. The plot and mythology are just as interesting as the love interests, though the romance does provide plenty of swoony moments.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Tell me: have YOU read this book yet? What was your opinion? Let me know in the comments below!

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