Book Review: Unearthly

by: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: January 4, 2011
Buy it at Amazon
Genre: Young Adult
Suitable for ages 12 and up
Source: ARC from HarperCollins

From Goodreads...

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.
Read more on Goodreads HERE.
Read more on Cynthia Hand's website HERE

I first heard of Unearthly when we spotlighted the book as our very first Waiting on Wednesday here at Reading Lark. Andrea and I were just getting our blog organized and deciding on which memes we wanted to feature. We knew we wanted to do Waiting on Wednesday, and I offered to do the first week. However, I was unsure of which book to spotlight. I wanted to pick a book that would be released fairly early on in the new year so that it wouldn’t be too long of a wait. Andrea sent me a link for Unearthly saying, “This one looks good.” As I read over the goodreads description of the book, several thoughts were running through my mind. Yes, it did look good. However, angels seem to be the new vampire. Is this going to be just another angel book? I loved Hush, Hush and Fallen, and I read J. R. Ward’s Covet and Crave. The word nephilim gets thrown around a lot in the newer paranormal YA books. Where can we go from here? Still, it did look good. When I was granted an electronic ARC of Unearthly from HarperTeen, I was excited to read it, and I was hopeful that it would have a new spin on nephilim and angels. So I downloaded Unearthly to my new Nook, with some excitement at using my Nook for only the 2nd time, and I eagerly began my Unearthly journey.

As I began to read Unearthly it struck me how comfortable the reading was. The characters were realistic and loveable, the descriptions vivid, and the story interesting. It didn’t start out as an “I can’t put this down, I must carve out time to read” story at first, but the deeper I got into the story, the more invested I became. In some ways it reminded me a lot of the other YA books that I’ve grown to love over the last two years. The heroine, while beautiful, is a little awkward and unaccepted in her new school. Her brother, Jeffrey, is the funny jock. She’s being raised by a single parent. She’s also the new girl at school, where she meets a few friends who she becomes close to and of course, two hunky boys to drool over. But that’s where the similarities ended.

First of all, Clara’s mom is amazing. Maggie is just as loveable of a character as Clara is. She is involved in her daughter’s life, she’s caring, attentive, and while she doesn’t always make the best decisions, Clara’s and Jeffrey’s well being is always in the forefront of her mind. The other thing that surprised me is that I was falling for the wrong boy! This has never happened to me before. I’ve always crushed on the boy that the heroine was supposed to end up with. Why did I feel like Christian wasn’t the guy for Clara? I desperately wanted her to come to her senses and see how amazing Tucker was. And the more I read, the more I fell for Tucker.

Secondly, Clara knows that she is an angel, and she knows the direction that her life is supposed to take. This isn’t a self discovery story, although Clara does grow and learn to make her own way. While the characters and their relationships are what kept me reading, I did become more and more vested in the story itself. Would Clara fulfill her purpose in time? Would she make the right decisions? The closer it got to the end of the story, the more anxious I became. There was no way this could be the end of the book! Finally, I couldn’t put the book down. I had to know what was going to happen next.

And this is where Cynthia Hand threw in a few twists of her own. While there is some resolution, Unearthly left me begging for more. I turned off my Nook and thought, “Please, please let this be the beginning of a series, because I am in no way through with Clara, Christian, and Tucker!” And what about Jeffery? Things ended very suspiciously with him. Do we find out what his purpose is? What role does he play in Clara’s purpose? What is going on with the futures of Clara, Christian, and Tucker? Did I fall for the right boy? (Although in this case, I don’t think there is a “wrong” boy.) I immediately turned to Cynthia Hand’s website to investigate. Lucky for me, Unearthly is indeed the beginning of a series.

I gave Unearthly 4 stars, an “I love it!” book. Cynthia Hand’s writing style is casual and easy to read, as well as vivid and captivating. She brought in some great new elements to angel mythology. While I didn’t become completely consumed by the story until closer to the end, I absolutely loved it. I would definitely recommend Unearthly to fans of YA paranormal romance. I can’t wait for the next book from this debut author!

*Thank you HarperCollins for my electronic ARC!*


  1. What a wonderful review. I've been looking forward to reading this one too. Glad to hear that it's not just another angel story!

  2. @acasualreader - Thanks! It's not just another angel story. I hope you like it as much as I did!

  3. Great review, Tev! I can't wait to read this one.

  4. Great review! I love the way you describe the reading as "comfortable" -- that's exactly how I felt too! I loved the characters (especially Tucker =)) You're right -- angels are the new vampire, but I'm so glad Cynthia did the genre justice instead of just writing another run-of-the-mill angel story.

  5. @Casey - Thanks for your comments. I agree - she did the genre justice. I can't wait to have more of Tucker! LOL

  6. Oh! I hope to read this soon. Nice review.

  7. Great review. I really loved this book. Tucker is my dream boyfriend for my daughter :)


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