In Unearthly, Clara has just discovered that she’s an angel. With that comes the task of trying to learn how to fly, keep her ‘glory’ under wraps, and figure out her purpose in life. Oh, and how to be a normal sixteen year old.
One night, Clara sees a vision of a boy in a burning forest and she knows that she has to save him. What she doesn’t know is where the vision takes place and when. When she finally glimpses the license plate of the boy’s truck, her mom moves her and her brother to Wyoming where the boy lives.
At Jackson Hole High School, Clara finally meets Christian, the boy from her visions. Right away, she’s drawn to him, just as she expected. But Christian isn’t exactly how Clara imagined and she can’t quite understand how her vision will come to be. At the same time, she starts falling in love with Tucker Avery and becomes at risk of losing her ‘purpose’.
After reading the description of this story, you’d think it would be like every other story in the YA PNR (paranormal romance) genre, another number along with Twilight, Hush Hush, and the Fallen series. You’d think that Clara would move to Wyoming and fall head first into insta-love with the hot, broody male and forget everything around her. But that’s not what happens.
In some ways, Unearthly reminds me of Everneath. Hand, like Ashton, is well aware of the cliches in the genre and sort of leads you towards them. But then steers you in another direction completely.
Clara’s story is a different one. For one thing, she’s already discovered her powers, when the story starts. This added an interesting dynamic to the narrative, as I constantly kept reading, trying to figure out the story of how, when, and why this happened. Hand dished it out, but slowly, in tiny teaspoons. Clara’s parents are also not of the disappearing variety. Well, her dad lives in New York, but her mom is a constant source of support and knowledge for Clara. It was so great to finally read about a healthy parent-teen relationship in a YA book. Yes, Clara and her mom do have their problems, but their relationship is presented as a healthy one.
Turning to the romance now, as I already mentioned, it was so refreshing to see Clara and Christian’s relationship develop and grow. Fortunately, there are no outpourings of undying devotion in the third chapter and for that I was grateful. Clara does become a bit obsessed, but its prefaced in such a way that it makes sense. Clara has a purpose on earth and Christian is part of that purpose. But what Clara didn’t anticipate is Tucker Avery.
Tucker was such a sweet, real character, that I could feel myself falling in love with him very quickly. Like all the relationships in this story, Tucker’s and Clara’s evolves and changes from mutual dislike to indifference to mutual attraction. Despite the fact that this is a paranormal story, there was a lot of ‘real’ in the story. The time that Tucker and Clara spend together is sweet and shows us how real and uncomplicated their relationship is. As it grows into something more, you can see how Clara struggles with lying to Tucker so much.
The ending was also a surprise. I hadn’t exactly expected events to turn out the way they did, which was a pleasant surprise.
Some of the things that I didn’t like were the beginning and ending. But only tiny parts of it. Clara and her family move to Wyoming very early on in the narrative, but the time that she lives in California is glossed over. I wish there had been a smidgen more detail included in these beginning scenes, since things seem a bit bland and generic until they move to Wyoming and the ‘real’ story begins.
Thankfully, Hand doesn’t torture her readers with a cliffhanger ending. The immediate problem is resolved but there are a thousand and one questions raised right after it. None of them are answered; I’m sure they’ll all be addressed in the sequel, but I sort of wish I knew more by the time I closed the book. Again, I’m sure this is done on purpose, to make you anticipate the sequel more, and so this is a small concern, and not really a whopping one.
Unearthly isn’t a fast-paced action story. It focuses on relationships and character development. Some people aren’t fans of this, but I really enjoyed watching Clara grow and evolve, as well as her relationships. I’m actually dying to read the sequel Hallowed, which I just received from the library today, so I’m off to do that!
So for that: 4/5.
Thanks for reading,
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