Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly - Cynthia Hand
“I didn’t ever think you were a freak. I think . . . I thought you were magic or something. I thought that you were too perfect to be real.”


Some of my friends say that the toughest reviews to write are the ones for books they loved. Another group of friends says it's the ones they hated. For me, it's the one in the middle. Books that are neither bad nor great, but the once that, once you've finished them, leaves you feeling nothing, more or less. Unearthly is one of those books.

Clara, we learn, is part angel. Because of this she has apurpose in life. She learns what it is by visions, each a fragment of what she's supposed to do. For years she's seen herself in a forest fire, heading toward a young man facing away from her. Then she learns where her vision takes place. A town in Wyoming. As expected, Clara, her mother, and her brother moves there so she can fulfill her purpose. Soon she meets the guy from her visions, Christian, a student at the high school Clara has enrolled at. But meeting him doesn't make her purpose any clearer.

Unearthly is, for a great part of the book, like any contemporary YA romance. Girl moves to new town, tries to fit in and make friends, finds herself crushing on a guy (who of course has a girlfriend that must be a bitch, or something close to it). It's mindlessly dull. Add that Clara is essentially perfect in every singe way. Her most common complaint is that, when her mother dyed her hair to cover up the glowing it does at times, it turns out a bad shade of orange. Such hardship. Everything Clara tries, she excels at (which is a treat shared by all part-angels.) This in particular makes it a difficulty to connect to her character. That and the fact that her voice isn't quite as engaging as you'd wish for.

Still, there's nothing necessarily wrong with any of this. The story moves, albeit a bit slow, along. We learn a little more about what it means to be part-angel. Again, though, it's not quite enough. The world building doesn't measure up, and what little there is, the reader is supposed to swallow up whole without questioning the details. Mostly, it's based on Christian myths/stories about angels.

In the end, Unearthly is a little too tame. Clara's tame personality isn't engaging enough and the plot never reaches a powerful climax. Still, there is absolutely nothing wrong or bad about Unearthly. It's a perfectly fine YA paranormal book. Maybe it's just me, getting older and wanting my paranormal/fantasy gritter and with a darker touch to it.