Trudi's Reviews > Unearthly

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
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's review
Feb 14, 12

bookshelves: angels-and-demons, 2012-reads, fantastical-speculative, love-actually, young-adult, series
Read from February 10 to 13, 2012

I enjoyed this book very much (as I am predisposed to find nearly anything to do with angel lore interesting as long as the angels aren't essentially conflicted "sparkly vampires" who just happen to have wings). I want the AWE in awesomeness, I want the spectacle, I want the terrible beauty. This isn't some fetish left over from my Catholic school days either ... this is a kink that started somewhere around the time I saw the film The Prophecy with Christopher Walken which got revved up big time thanks to the television show Supernatural and this guy (don't judge me):

In other words, angels to me are warriors, they will always be warriors: fierce, deadly, dangerous, badass. Cynthia Hand has done something here that I didn't even think was possible: she takes the deadly badassery component and unleashes it on a sleepy little town in Jackson Hole, Wyoming of all places and it rings true! While 85% of the novel is YA romance that deals with high school life and adolescent angst, the other 15% is so convincingly fueled by the awesome spectacle of angel badassery (with a gorgeous mountainous backdrop) I was duly impressed.

Clara is a sweet girl who is just figuring out what it means to be a quarter blood angel (her mom's half and her dad's human), and it's not easy. As if adolescence doesn't suck enough. I liked Clara a lot. She didn't annoy me, even when her emotions were going off the rails and she couldn't help throwing tantrums. I bought into her dilemma and thought the author handled it well. Yes, it's a "teen story" but with a kick of nitroglycerine to give it some balls. The "love story" element is even handled well; Tucker earns his place in the story as more than just "the main squeeze". I love the dialogue Hand gives him, and I was totally buying it.

The other 15% of the story is the nitroglycerine -- there are Black Wings (fallen angels), a war in heaven, a war on earth? and Clara's Mom, more than a century old and with deadly knowledge she cannot share. If these elements had been more than 15% of the story, this book probably would have gotten four stars no problem. Since these elements have been introduced, and introduced so well, I am definitely going to check out Book 2.

I also in good conscience couldn't rate this book any higher because for me it just pales in comparison to my experiences with Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Space Between. These two books reversed the formula and are 85% nitroglycerine. I loved them and cannot recommend them strongly enough.
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Reading Progress

02/10/2012 "I hope this little book can live up under the gargantuan praise ... either way, it will be a nice palate cleanser after Cain's gritty noir."

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