Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)

Pages: 432
Genre: YA Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Australia Release: 01/01/2011
Received from publisher.

Clara has known she was part-angel ever since she turned fourteen two years ago, but only now is her Purpose - the crucial rite of passage for every part-angel - becoming clear to her. Clara′s Purpose leads her family to Wyoming, where, amidst terrifying scenes of a bush inferno, she finds the boy of her visions, Christian. He is everything she could wish for - so why does she also have feelings for her enigmatic classmate Tucker?

Clara discovers that her Purpose is only a small part of a titanic struggle between angels and their destructive counterparts, the Black Wings. And when the fire of her visions erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?

From debut novelist Cynthia Hand comes a riveting tale full of supernatural powers, forbidden romance, and the choice between fulfilling your destiny or following your heart.

The only reason I managed to pick up a copy of this novel was because the publisher sent me a surprise copy of the sequel a few weeks ago. I had seen it a few times while shopping, but didn't really pay much attention to it. There was always some other book I wanted to buy, the cover didn't appeal to me, the angel thing didn't appeal to me and so I didn't buy it. So here I was not a month after shopping and seeing this book in a store that I received a review copy of the sequel. I was debating whether or not to give it away or ask for the first book. After looking more closely at the press release for the sequel and the blurbs from two of my favourite authors Richelle Mead and Melissa Marr I was definitely curious. Now the only thing I regret is not buying a copy earlier and reading 'Unearthly' much sooner...

One thing that I noticed right away about this book was how 'real' the main character seemed. Obviously she wasn't real. She is part angel after all, but she reminded me of a genuinely stressed, sarcastic, lovely, kind teenage girl. The humour in the writing reminded me a lot of the 'Vampire Academy' series. It was very easy to feel the emotions in the book and as a reader I felt that I connected really well with protagonist which is definitely a good thing.

I also really liked the imagery. There were some truly beautiful similes and metaphors used that were really original and honest. I think that descriptions like these can really make a difference in novels. Almost like the difference between black/white and technicolour movies.

Another thing that I really appreciated was that this novel was NOT JUST ANOTHER PARANORMAL ROMANCE. The novel doesn't just revolve around the love interest. The author not only proves that it's not just a paranormal romance, by obviously writing in the girl as the heroine and ensuring that she isn't pathetic, but the main character(Also the narrator) actually refers to 'Cinderella' and 'Hero Complexes' several times in the novel, often ridiculing them.

The main character Clara was not drop dead gorgeous at the beginning either. She was pretty in some ways, but not so pretty in others. She knew this and she was honest with how she felt about it. She also had to change her appearance at one point by dyeing her hair, which didn't suit her very well which shows that what we define as beautiful or ugly is not always based on natural things.

The main character is also a very strong and smart character, so instead of having to keep up with everyone else she had to learn to back off. This was one thing that I think should be exhibited more in novels about immortal characters. There is also a bit of an internal debacle going on with Clara because of her Angelic duty and what it means for her. Does the hero of the story do all the saving? Can somebody save them? Is her duty allowed to cross over into leisure? She considers these things during the novel and it definitely gives readers something to mull over.

I really liked how this author challenged the idea of typical paranormal romance novels by creating a character that questioned her 'fate'. In other novels the main character who is often the damsel quickly accepts that her hero is her soul mate, but Clara is not so sure. She is the hero and she is internally debating whether or not it is right to be with the person you have to save. Is there such thing as Destiny?And for those who've read this book I'm telling you right now that if I could get one I'd be wearing a team Tucker shirt.

One thing that I've definitely realised with this novel is that you have to pay close attention. Clara has a bad habit of recalling past memories, imagining the hypothetical future and having visions without really notifying you first. I guess with the visions it's because she doesn't really know what's going on half the time, but it can be a little confusing. Sometimes I had to go back a page to figure out what was happening.

I also thought that sometimes Clara had a bit of an overreaction to things. I don't know if she really overreacted or if it was because she didn't always fully explain her feelings. I am still trying to figure out if I didn't like that because it seemed fake or whether or not it was part of her character.

I really liked how the author provided a lot of realistic obstacles for the character to face. Things like having two best friends that are jealous of each other or having a friend that doesn't approve of your boyfriend, being talked about at school, not getting along with your mother...etc Are all true to life teenage problems. This helped to balance out the fantasy elements and stop the book from becoming too far fetched.

Overall I really, really liked this book. It is definitely worth a 5/5 Star rating, but I didn't favourite it because I'm still not really sold on the Angel sub genre yet. 'Unearthly' seems like a paranormal romance at first glance, but I recommend those struggling with the story to try and stick with it a bit longer because it does get better.

The next book is 'Hallowed' which I can't wait to read!

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Heather@The Flyleaf Review said...

I'm glad to see that I wasn't the only one who hasn't read Unearthly! I think I haven't picked up for some of the same reasons as you: I'm not that into angel storylines either. But I'm glad you liked it, maybe I need to give it a try, because everyone seems to rave about it, and the sequel. Great review!

stockings australia said...

I can feel that bizarre gothic build-up to a climactic suspense just reading your post. Correct me if I'm wrong but is Clara addicted to vampire novels?

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

I don't think so. lol. The book doesn't really explore her reading habits.