Cels Reviews: Cynthia Hand's "Unearthly"
Imagine in the last two years your life has been completely and utterly turned upside down. Not only do you find out that your mum is in fact over a hundred years old and half angel—wings and all, but you’re also about to be tasked with your “Purpose”, your whole reason for being, and you haven’t even mastered the whole flying thing yet.
Welcome to 16-year-old Clara Gardner’s world. Given clues to her Purpose through a series of often confusing visions (all featuring the same forest fire and same mysterious boy) Clara, her mum and younger brother, Jeff, leave California for Wyoming to fulfil her destiny. But along with starting at a new school and trying to fit in, Clara realises there is a lot more to this angel business than she first thought, and some of it can be deadly. Plus there is that pesky Purpose; but when you’re meant to save one boy and you’re head over heels with another in danger, just who do you choose?
Unearthly is one of the best books I’ve read all year, it’s just simply beautiful. You can’t help but fall in love with the main players, especially Clara. Not only is it a tale of destiny and first time love, it’s also the story of one girl trying to desperately make sense of the curve balls life keeps throwing at her. And it is a realistic look at the changes approaching adulthood can make to family relationships—especially between a mother and daughter. It’s the type of coming-of-age story that leaves you feeling all warm and glowing, yet still retains that ring of honesty.
It’s not all mushy though, don’t worry. There is plenty of action and uncovering of hidden truths to keep the pulse racing: the revelation of “evil” angels; Clara’s discovery that her mum is telling her all the facts; the day-to-day struggle of keeping such a huge secret. The plot is finely woven and entrancing; Clara’s world will draw you in completely. It’s vividly rich and the setting almost becomes another character. My only complaint is that the pages just turned way too fast, it is just that addictive. The ending does leave you with emotions raging and a desperate need to know what’s next. Thankfully there is a sequel, Hallowed, due for release in January 2012 so the wait is not too long. So whether or not angels are your cup of tea, Unearthly is still worth checking out.
Published Jan 4, 2011 by Harper Collins
Paperback, 435 pages
Author info can be found here