Author: Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly #1
Book Depository | Audible | Goodreads
In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .
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. [Goodreads]
I've been reading a whole lot of YA recently, most of which seems familiar and uninteresting. Unearthly is leaps ahead of the pack simply because Clara, our heroine, is insanely likeable and easy to relate to. She's not perfect, but she's not so imperfect, either; she falls squarely in the middle somewhere along with the rest of us readers, and that's what I relate to the most. She's that girl who is unsure of where she is in life or what she's doing, but she's trying her best with it all.
As for the love triangle that's become so prevalent in YA fiction lately, I found it was done pretty well here. Both boys (Christian and Tucker) aren't as filled in as they should be, but there's still enough about them to see why Clara falls for both. The book summary, which tries to market the romance as good boy vs bad boy, doesn't do the triangle justice. Christian is the sort of boy all of us fell for in school once upon a time. Tucker is the boy we probably had as a friend and never thought of as romantic potential. Each has their own merits and faults, arriving at certain thoughts/plot points in what seems like a natural fashion.
That's what makes Unearthly so successful, in my eyes: it's all so natural, despite the decidedly fantastical power Clara has. I also appreciated that for being an angel, the book doesn't come down heavily on one side of religion or another. It simply shows us the world through Clara's eyes.