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I'm immortally interested in cultural/literary deconstructions, feminism, anti-racism, South Korea, Supernatural, Sherlock Holmes, Hayao Miyazaki, Diana Wynne Jones, food (including but not limited to maple butter, tomatoes, and toast), fairy tales, parentheses, paper airplanes, films and books.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


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.*

The hype behind this book was incredible. First off, not only did one my favorite Goodreads reviewer give it five stars but the overall review ratings for Unearthly were almost five stars. I had to give in, and I'm partly glad I did.

Unearthly - this may have been said before - is the anti-Twilight. It features a girl who's smack dab in the middle of her journey as an angel, her big move having a purpose with selfish consequences, the main love interest who's actually just nice, a potential one who could be Gilbert Blythe's twin (if he wasn't already someone else's) and - gasp! - a family anyone can relate to. If this had been released a few years ago, I might have fainted at the thought of such instantaneousness progression.

One thing I loved about this book was the fact that Clara might be a quarter-angel but she never seems to feel that way. There are never those awkward moments where she's feeling the angelness and it makes her seem holier-than-thou and all Virgin-Maryish. It's actually at those angelic moments that Clara seems to feel the most awkward. It's a refreshing change from all the paranormal heroines who seem to find out about their powers and gain complete mastery over them in the space of an entire week.

I really did enjoy Unearthly. I especially loved Tucker and Angela. Tucker with all his gruff affection because he spent half a year teasing a girl he didn't know how to like. Angela because I'm having this inkling she's going to do something bad and that is all pure win in my book as are Goth angels. Christian ... I like the broody. Unfortunately, other than his looks, I really can't remember anything else about him. That makes me disappointed because I remember being seriously excited that he was showing interest in Clara and sad at the quick way her infatuation with him faded away.

This brings me to one of the main reasons why I only enjoyed the first and last half of the book: the stalking.

OK, so Christian was Clara's purpose, I get that. But the vibes I was getting from the way she was always around him reminded me of the reason why I hated Twilight and the rest of its predecessors. It was creepy. I couldn't get over the fact that she was literally following him around, watching him all the time, hanging around his favorite haunts, disliking his girlfriend and even going so far as to adopting some of his habits just because she needed to get near him. Read this book and tell me that Clara wasn't seriously crushing on this boy, purpose or no. That made it even more uncomfortable to read. It felt like Hand had created this purpose solely to get them together which would have seriously pissed me off had it not been for Tucker's existence. I honestly had to put the book down to process the fact that everyone, Angela included, wanted Kay out of the picture just so Clara could find her purpose. For once, the "mean girl" had a reason for being mean! The girl was trying to steal her boyfriend so blatantly of course she had every right to defend him (although spreading rumors was a little nasty I suppose). Couldn't Clara have done her purpose even with Kay in the picture? Hand-holding, cheek stroking or no?

There were only two other things that bothered me about the book: the wings and the upcoming sequel.

Maybe this is my fault. I was coming into this book with two impression: the wings and the upcoming sequel. I thought that these angels wouldn't have wings. They are crucial to the plot line, yes, but I find that it could have been so much more without them. (SPOILER) When I read that Black Wings (I shuddered at the name - I mean, Hand came up with Dimidus and Quarterius! Why, Black Wings? Why?), I nearly bawled. The way Hand described how they could be sensed was just so incredibly powerful that it hit me at all the right spots and more. The fact that Black Wings felt massive, externalizing guilt because of what they did was so spot on with angelology that I wanted to send Hand an email touting my internal author-crush. Then along came Sam. Sigh. Something about that scene made me uncomfortable as well. It seemed like Hand wanted him to be a villain and a sympathetic character at the same time and it just didn't click. (Although I am in bliss at the fact that Clara's MOM saved her!) (END OF SPOILER)

My other crushed impression was that this would be a stand-alone novel. Of course it wouldn't. Although it makes a little bit of sense considering that Hand has clearly put thought into the mythology of her world that one novel wouldn't be enough, I still honest-to-God thought that it was going to be a stand-alone and I was just so excited. Well, we can't have and eat too, can we? (This does not mean I will not be checking in to the sequel, I'll just be less excited. Sad face.)

Unearthly is still an excellent book and worthy of the hype. Hand's mythology is so intricate and thought-out that it makes you want to read more just for the sake of learning it. Not to mention, she kept her mythology close to the original source (No sparkly, gentlemanly creatures here!) but Hand deftly dealt with the subject of God so well that no one could possibly have any objections. Teen fluff or not, Unearthly is worth checking out for Tucker's wisecracks and the mythology alone.

All in all=☆☆☆☆

*Summary taken from Goodreads.


  1. +JMJ+

    This review of Unearthly reminds me of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick--which I didn't like very much. When guys stalk girls (e.g. Twilight), that's one level of creepiness; but when girls stalk guys, that is a deathblow to dignity. At least Clara has an excuse, because Christian is her vocation . . . but this is too bald a tapping of teen girls' desire to stalk their crushes with impunity for me to think it does anything more for the story than wish fulfillment.

    I don't think I'll be reading this book any time soon (or at all!), but thanks for helping me decide that with your review. =)

  2. You're welcome! I'm glad you found it helpful. Though *shudder* I wouldn't say that Unearthly should be put anywhere near Hush, Hush.

    Let's just say that if it wasn't for all the information on angels in the first half and Clara's pre-Christian behavior, I would say skip the whole first half of the book. And, yes, I'm kind of scared too that teens are going to get the thought that stalking their crushes is a good thing. It's not. Really.