Heidi's Reviews > Unearthly

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
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's review
Dec 31, 2011

really liked it
Read from September 01 to 03, 2011

Four stars: A wonderful debut book! I highly recommend this one!

This was my first book about angels and what a pleasant surprise it was! As intriguing as the whole angel aspect was, I admit I was more enamored with the setting, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It is the absolute best part of this novel. Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons, are an excellent backdrop, to this beautiful story about a young lady, plagued by visions of a forest fire and a handsome, young stranger. Clara is not your average girl. She is part angel and she is trying to determine her purpose on this earth. Her journey of self discovery and growth leads to a great love and a fateful decision. Will she choose her destined path or follow her heart?

What I Liked:
*Clara, our heroine, she is quarter angel blood. Even though she is part angel, the rest is human. As a sixteen year old, she suffers all the normal angst of any teenage girl. That is what I admired about her; she is beautiful and ethereal but she sees herself as gawky, with big eyes and horrible hair. She has all the insecurities of a typical teenager. The story follows her exploration and revelation of who she is and her purpose. I loved the fact that Clara learns to listen to heart.
*Tucker, the affable cowboy, with the rusty pickup truck and sharp wit. He is fun, sweet and charming. A handsome guy, that every girl would love to introduce to her parents. He is a gentleman, with excellent manners. I delighted in his antagonistic behavior towards Clara. I also enjoyed his character development.
*The angel concept was unique and interesting. I liked the idea that angels live among us as normal humans. I was fascinated by the color of their wings. The whiter the wings, the more pure and good the angel. I also liked the introduction of good and bad angels, white and dark wings.
*I was charmed with how the romance unfolds in the book. In the beginning you are led to believe that Clara will fall in love with one boy, but then another comes along and snatches her heart. I liked how there were subtle hints along the way and then when the relationship blossoms, it is so sweet and pure. One of my favorite parts was the summer days of young love, involving row boats on the lake, rafting, swimming, jumping in the river, huckleberry picking, hiking and fishing; it was just perfect!
*The setting; absolutely my favorite part of the novel. Ok, I admit it, I grew up in Idaho Falls, so to have the story take place in Jackson Hole was awesome. I reveled in all of the descriptions of the magnificent scenery, especially because I knew every destination in the book, having had the pleasure to visit all of them. The vivid pictures that Ms. Hand paints made me nostalgic and homesick. This book makes you want to visit Jackson Hole.

And The Not So Much:
*Several characters lacked development and depth. Christian, he is such an essential part of the story but I felt that I barely glimpsed the extent of his character. I definitely want to know him better. Clara's mother Meg, her character begins the story as a loving, supportive mother. She is there to guide Clara as she discovers her purpose. Then she becomes distant and mysterious. She refuses to answer Clara's questions, she disappears and becomes aloof. This was a big disappointment to me because I thought she was fascinating and I wanted to know her secrets. I am hoping that in future books she will take us into her confidence. Jeffrey, Clara's younger brother, I really wanted more of him in the story. Especially at the end when he shows his wings. What is going with him? I hope we learn more about him in the next book. Then finally, Angela, she is supposedly one of Clara's best friends but something was so off with her. I did not like her, I felt she was hiding something insidious.
* I was slightly confused about the angel's wing color. It changed color dependent upon the angel's actions, if they made a poor decision, their wings darkened. I wondered does the color remain this way or can they lighten again? I wanted further clarification on this topic.
*The story is a little slow. The book focuses on Clara's repeated vision of her purpose; you see this theme repeated over and over throughout the book, it gets somewhat repetitive. The majority of the book follows Clara, attending school and engaging in typical teenage activities. Not a lot happens, luckily the writing is smooth and the story is interesting enough to keep your attention, until you get to the dramatic climax and then it is an electrifying finish. Well worth the wait!
*This is a nit picky point, but I enjoyed the wonderful descriptions and I was so excited when Clara was going to visit Yellowstone, I couldn't wait to read all the details. I was so disappointed when the story completely glosses over Yellowstone and all we get is a mention of a lost Korean tourist. I think the reader misses out on the beauty and wonder of Yellowstone. I hope that Ms. Hand will take us on a tour of Yellowstone in her next book, as well as a stop at the General Store in Swan Valley for a square ice cream cone.

Unearthly, is a charming book; I highly recommend it. I was blown away by the climatic ending and Clara's final choice. I also loved the slow unfurling of the teenage romance. It was innocent and tender. The scenic backdrop of the Tetons made me so happy. I loved fly fishing, and huckleberry picking and the breathtaking beauty of the sunrise over the Tetons. A great debut novel. I am eager for the release of the second book, Hallowed, on January 17, 2012. I hope we are treated to a tour of Jackson Hole in the fall.

Favorite Quotations:
"The full moon overhead spills a dreamy silver light onto the forest. Crickets chirp. A cool, pine-scented breeze rustles the leaves. A perfect night."

"The sky's bathed in a mix of gray and pale yellow, with a tangle of bright pink clouds hanging right above where the Tetons jut into the sky, pure purple mountain majesty, standing like kings on the edge of the horizon."
Posted on my blog: http://rainydayramblings.typepad.com/
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Reading Progress

20.0% "so far this is really good. I wish I had angel wings!"
80.0% "This book is making me so homesick..."
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CerejaCult CerejaCult This was sweet :)

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