Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 9:00 AM
Title: Unearthly 
Author: Cynthia Hand
Published: January 1, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Series: Unearthly #1
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Pages: 435
Source: Purchased
Rating: 2 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“So often we only do what we think is expected of us, when we are capable of so much more.”
― Cynthia Hand, Unearthly

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)
My Thoughts
At first, I was hesitant to read Unearthly, concerned it would be just another Hush Hush. But all of the five star reviews and high praise for this book convinced me to take a risk. When you take a risk, there is always a chance the book will not live up to your expectations. Unfortunately, this was the case with Unearthly. Though it pains me to criticize any published work, I must be honest with my followers. And here's my honest opinion: Unearthly brought nothing new to the young adult genre.

Unearthly paled in comparison to Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Angelfall. In fact, I would call it the angel equivalent of Twilight. Just as I despised Bella, I found Clara unappealing as a protagonist. She was vain and often self-absorbed, forgetting that other people had issues as well. Sometimes, she was even downright b*tchy. She stressed way too much importance on her appearance, and I could not sympathize with her "problems," when they were trivial in comparison to her purpose. I understand that she's a teenager, but how many times do we have to hear about her hair problems? Or about having no date to prom? Or about how hot Christian is?

And there lies another annoyance of mine! Because Christian is a walking, talking Ken doll. His appearance, which we hear about all too often, is flawless. You know the type - the stereotypical love interest whose golden locks blow in a gentle breeze as girls drool over him. And it's not just his exterior. Christian could do no wrong. He is perfect in every way and entirely unrealistic.

Then, there's Tucker. He was one of the few characters I actually appreciated because he was a wildcard. He did have some complexity, some unpredictability until...until he didn't. Like every other cardboard cutout in this book, Tucker fell into a mold that has been used countless times before. Boy pretends to not like girl. Boy insults girl. Suddenly, boy worships the ground girl walks upon.

And the progression in Unearthly was entirely off. The first half of the book dragged, and I found it a struggle to read at such a slow pace. The second half was much more bearable, as it actually had more to do with angels and had more of an actual plot. But then Clara goes from first kiss to head over heels in love with little time in between. I felt my head spinning from the fast pace. I needed way more development between these two lovebirds. I also wanted less high school drama and more angels.

Alright, the guilt is killing me. I feel horrible for speaking so harshly, and I will admit that this book has a couple of positives. I am so grateful that, for once, the protagonist is the supernatural being, and not the love interest. This is the other side of the coin. Clara is exploring her heritage and her powers instead of coming to terms with some vampire or werewolf boyfriend's identity. She is also discovering her history and what it means to be part angel. I also loved how a parent was actually present in Unearthly. Clara and her mom's relationship is explored in detail, as her mother is a half angel and can relate to Clara's struggles.

I already own Hallowed so I will be reading the sequel, but I am in no rush. I can only hope I enjoy it more than Unearthly. I was greatly disappointed in the first book of the Unearthly series, and there is definitely room for improvement.


  1. Aw, sorry you were disappointed by it! I really liked this book, but the problems you mentioned are ones that I caught in the sequel. My reading tastes had probably changed a lot between reading both books, so that may be why I didn't notice them so much in the first book.

    I adore Tucker. He was definitely my favourite part of the book. Christian needs to get lost.

    Great review, Courtney :)

    1. Thank you Amber! I'm glad you liked the book even if I didn't! And uh-oh. If you saw these problems in the sequel, then I'm not looking forward to reading it. And I agree about Christian.

  2. hahahaha I love this! On a more serious note, I appreciate your honesty in how the story didn't work out for you. I think sometimes it's hard to admit that if something's been super popular and acclaimed. I honestly don't think that the Unearthly trilogy is something that I'd like myself, and I found myself agreeing with what you said and how that would probably have annoyed me as well. There can only be so many good angel novels, I think.

    1. Well, for this series, I was the guinea pig. You take the next risk. :P

  3. If a character is named in the same sentence with "Bella" I want to run away.. But I've planned to use this one for a reading character, so I will give it a try anyway. I kind of like Angels, but I haven't found one I ended up loving. Seeing the raving reviews, I was hoping that this was the one. I also despise the whole "too-perfect-pretty" boys in books. So unrealistic and totally not my type. Boys with flaws are much more attractive (although it depends on the flaws :p)

    Thank you so much for warning me and I'm definitely going to look for the two other books you've mentioned. I've been planning to read Daughter of smoke and bone for a while now.


    1. *reading character = reading challenge.

    2. I really hope you like it Mel (even if I didn't). Also, if you're looking for a great angel read, you should definitely look for those books. I'm also a fan of Cassandra Clare's series. They're a guilty pleasure of mine. Thanks for stopping by! :D


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