Unearthly (Unearthly #1)
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.
Clara wasn't all that impressive to me as a main character. In fact, when she was around Christian she seemed creepy, stalkerish and not at all believable, almost making me want to put the book down . When she was with Tucker, however, she was much more engaging. As far as plot goes, I didn't feel like there was a whole lot of mystery there. I had figured out that Christian was most likely "different" not too far into the book and wasn't surprised at all by the ending. I felt like there should have been more interaction between he and Clara while he was away to make the "choice" at the end much more difficult for her but again, it was no surprise to me.
Angela was irritating at best and while my first inclination is to assume she will turn out to be bad based on her parentage, my gut tells me Jeffrey is most likely the one to watch out for. Tucker was the BEST part of this book for me (THE BEST!) and I thoroughly enjoyed his exchanges with Clara! I loved his witty humor, his kindness, humility and the way he could infuriate Clara all at the same time. (I'd probably be more of an outdoorsy type myself if I'd met a Tucker when I was younger.) *wink wink*
Yes, God is mentioned. Yes, there are mentions of heaven, hell, God’s divine purpose, and, of course, angels. There is not however an overdose of it. It was just enough to show it was a book about angels without religion being thrust upon the readers.
I did not fall in love with Clara from the first pages of the book as some fictional characters I have read before. She seemed a little too uptight in the beginning. That how she was meant to feel, I surmise. As I read on and started watching Clara deviate slightly from her all-mighty purpose and start following her heart more and more, she started to grow on me. I watched her awkwardness that I always find so endearing in characters grow into a certainty and strength I wouldn’t have thought she would have been capable of early into the story.
When the love triangle started I groaned. I was so sick of all the “I love you! No… wait… I love you! No, I’m sorry I love…” blah blah blah. Sometimes love triangles to me are just too forced and uncomfortable. This love triangle was not as well developed as I would have thought. It was blatantly clear that Clara cared for one more than the other so her struggle wasn’t as believable as it could have been. At least not to me. Others may have found it completely believable and the stuff of dreams. I am a tough critic.
With any love triangle I have to give my siding of course. My choice is a bit bias I must confess. I am a southern girl and have grown up knowing country boys rather well. So, without a doubt when presented with a pretty boy jock or a down-to-earth country boy, it’s no surprise my heart skipped a beat when Tucker came onto the scene. He is so different from Clara that it is an interesting match. Throughout the book I didn’t know if Clara and Tucker were a good match or if I just found Tucker completely swoon-worthy for myself.
“Unearthly” is a story of a girl with angel-blood coursing through her veins who was taught to always follow her God given purpose that presents itself in visions. While realizing her visions of her purpose in bits and pieces she struggles with doing what is expected of her and what her heart tells her to. It really speaks to reality. Who hasn’t had to struggle with something they are supposed to do or something they feel is right for them personally? It is that connection that makes Clara’s struggle between head and heart so touching. This book gripped me from the very beginning and stuck with me. I hadn’t even reached the middle of the book before I was searching for the next installment feverishly. If you never feel the need to read a book on angels, read this series at least.
Review Posted on: http://www.ladybugliterature.blogspot.com
Another thing I really liked about Unearthly is that Clara’s mom is actually involved. There’s no “wait, and where are the parents?” moments during this book. Clara’s mom is present and involved with Clara’s life and is trying to help her as much as possible in her own secretive way. They have a great relationship and are completely hilarious together in the beginning. Especially when they’re trying to come up with worse names the mean kids can call her other than “Bozo.” Their relationship isn’t all sunshine and rainbows though; they have their fights, but Clara’s mom is always there. I am very curious about what she’s hiding though.
Now, back to the beyond gorgeous teenage boy. He’s suppose to be all business for Clara, but of course she tries to mix in a little bit of pleasure. Is that such a good idea? I didn’t think so, especially when there’s a perfectly nice boy who’s obviously genuinely interested in her. And she’s obviously genuinely interested in him. Gotta love love triangles! Although we don’t get to see much of her relationship developing with Christian (beyond gorgeous teenage boy), but it is there. We do get a whole lot of Clara and Tucker though. I loved how they did normal things, and just hung out, no pressure. It felt like they had a real connection, rather than the one with Christian, which is something else entirely.
I love Clara’s friends! This doesn’t seem to happen to often for me. I always tend to find at least one friend utterly irritating or flat, but not here. Wendy is a sweetheart and befriends Clara right away. Clara might not be able to be 100% honest with her, but I think they have a solid friendship. Plus she’s party responsible for pushing Clara and Tucker together, so yay Wendy! Then there’s Angela, whom I adore. She’s quirky and smart, and a little mysterious. I definitely need to learn more about her! Clara has a brother who I felt was just kind of…there, until about 3/4 through the book when I went “huh, I wonder what’s up with that?” Looking forward to finding out the answer to that, too.
The last 40ish pages, wow. Intense. I have no clue where this story is going, but I need to find out ASAP!
Surprisingly, Unearthly was actually a very good book.The first thing that stood out to me was Hand’s writing; it was crisp and clean and effective. I was honestly expecting something less mature, less precise.
The main characters were excellent. Hand obviously worked hard to make the people in this book realistic, even though Clara isn’t a “normal” girl. Clara’s family was interesting and supportive, her friends Wendy and Angela were neither perfect nor terrible. One of the love interests was a likeable, down-to-earth guy, while the other I’m still a bit iffy on.
I also thought the actual “angel” aspect was handled well. It’s a tough topic, because angels, by necessity, bring a Christian element into a story intended for secular audiences. In order to “secularize” the Biblical concept of angels and angel-bloods, Hand somewhat had to tone things down. Granted, my views of Christianity and religion are different than most of Unearthly’s intended audience, so I imagine that Hand wished to avoid offending her readers. As it was, I was impressed by the way this author approached the subject.
From what I’ve read, some readers didn’t like the way this book wasn’t very action-intesive. Mostly, it was a build-up to the major conflict that’s going to take center stage in the second book. I didn’t actually mind that this book was mostly exposition, as it gave Hand a lot of time to develop characters, setting, and motivation, something that is greatly under-done in YA fiction.
From what I’ve read on the back of book covers, paranormal romance generally takes place in a high school setting. Now, I haven’t read many high school books, but if the high schools in those books are represented in the same way that Hand represented Jackson Hole High, we’re going to have an issue.To begin with, I did some research on Jackson Hole High—that’s the nice thing about picking a real school; I can fact-check you. While there is a class in aerodynamics, there is no British History class (which was a center-point of the story). Pictures of the exterior and interior show the school to be like a “typical” high school, not at all the ski resort/art museum Hand describes. Obviously, more research would have been good.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again: high school is not like Mean Girls. I’m not saying it’s rainbows and unicorns—everyone’s experience is different. But there’s not one “head popular girl” who rules the roost, and there’s not a “popular clique,” at least, not to the extent that media would have us believe. Popular people do talk to the “Invisibles,” and they do get along on occasion (revolutionary thought, right?)
That was my big complaint with this book. Sometimes when I read these books, I wonder if these authors actually remember what high school was like. Maybe they’ve been watching too much Glee?
I’m not saying high school isn’t a bad, unfair world. I’m just saying that you don’t need to blow things way out of proportion in order to portray that.
(Also: this has turned into quite a rant, and I’m sorry. But it’s aggravating when an otherwise good book fails where only a simple fix is needed.)
For my first foray into the world of “angel romance,” I was pleasantly surprised by Unearthly. The story is captivating and the characters well-rounded. Will I go out and actively seek more angel romance? No, not necessarily. But I’m glad I tried it.
And by golly, the descriptions! I, for one, hate the country and will proudly proclaim myself a city girl. The descriptions of Jackson Hole had me wanting to pack up and go enjoy the beauty of it all on the spot though. I have a feeling the next time I find myself in somewhere like Montana or the like I'll take a second look at my surroundings instead of moaning and groaning for a city.
To sum up, this book was fantastic. I was flipping pages like no other hungry for what was to come. It also kept me guessing a bit, surprising me with thing I didn't see coming. My one negative thing was synopsis made it seem as if Clara was somewhat of a bad-girl which I didn't get from her. That wasn't part of the actual book though, so it doesn't factor in much.
The premise caught my attention from page one. An angel with a purpose - yes! I was instantly intrigued, eager to learn more about Clara's purpose and how she might accomplish it. My excitement grew through the first few chapters while Clara and her mom deciphered clues from her visions to uncover the location where Clara would ultimately serve her purpose as an angel-blood (nephilim).
Once reaching this fateful destination however, the pacing of the novel started to stagnate slightly. Clara enrols in school, and quickly meets the subject of her visions and purpose - Christian Prescott. Seeing how her brother Jeremy foresaw her reaction (of fainting) to meeting Christian, I was able to laugh off her weakness and assumed, being now prepared, she would react better in future interactions. Unfortunately, Clara suffers from the same unnamed epidemic that afflicts many YA heroines, who's symptoms include weak knees, the inability to form coherent sentences, stalkerish tendencies and a general inability to function as a normal human being. Each time she meets Christian, Clara remarks often on catching herself staring at him and feeling dizzy in his presence - all because of how good-looking he is. We're subjected to countless re-tellings of the fall of his hair, the chisel of his cheekbones and the definition of shoulders - and are left feeling like Clara is completely unable to function because his beauty leaves her dumbstruck (thus leaving me feeling like she needs a good shake!)
Once Christian leaves for the summer, Clara returns to a functioning member of society, and begins training for her purpose - only to be completely derailed by golden-haired, blue-eyed, bronzed skin Tucker Avery. This led to my favourite part of Unearthly, and the reason I will be continuing with this series - the development of Clara and Tucker's relationship. Where I felt the tension between Clara and Christina was forced, the chemistry between Clara and Tucker was written with ease. It was easy to see the progression of playful banter and teasing turn into hidden compliments and the blushing beginnings of a crush. I was envious of their summer together, and completely taken by cowboy Tucker and his gentlemanly ways. The only thing that got in my way of enjoying this section was the nagging voice in the back of my head asking what had happened to Clara's all-important purpose, how suddenly Clara decided she was in love with Tucker, what had happened to her mother and the constant reminder to stay focused, and why had Christian been so easily forgotten?
Speaking of Clara's mother, I could not stand the woman! I hate being left in the dark without a valid reason, and I hate when there's conflict that could very easily have been avoided had certain conversations taken place. I'm going to assume that the reasons for her secrecy will be revealed in the next two books, but I really don't like feeling like she was intentionally vague just to create suspension - and since she was never able to give Clara a good reason for being so secretive, that's what I'm forced to conclude.
I enjoyed the ending, although I wasn't surprised by the twist, as I felt like it sufficiently tied up loose ends. We're still left with an inkling suspicion that Clara's purpose might not be completely fulfilled, and the twist opens up new doors for the rest of the series, but everything that had to be resolved was and I was left feeling satisfied. So while I didn't love Unearthly, I am walking away with a new-found hope for angels as credible content for a YA paranormal series.
Clara tells this story, though. A quarter angel, her mother uproots her and her brother from their home in California to move to the mountains of Wyoming all because Clara's visions have indicated that that's where her purpose lies. Each angel is born into a purpose, and they must do everything in their power to complete it to the best of their abilities.
What follows is a familiar new-girl-in-a-small-high-school story with the addition of some angel wings, visions of a fast approaching if slightly vague destiny, and a perfectly perfect love triangle. Not an annoying love triangle, which is how many of them seem, but perfectly perfect. In every way.