Title: Unearthly (#1)
Author: Cynthia Hand
Published: January 4, 2011
Series: Trilogy - 'Hallowed' (published January 17, 2012) and 'Boundless' follow
Amazon Summary: When Clara Gardner learns she’s part angel, her entire life changes. She now has a purpose, a specific task she was put on this earth to accomplish, except she doesn’t know what it is. Her visions of a raging forest fire and a mysterious boy lead her to a new high school in a new town but provide no clear instruction. 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 the boy in her vision and the boy in her life, 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?
I ended up reading 'Unearthly' in one sitting - skipping right over dinner. At first I wasn't sure I was going to like it; the beginning moved quickly (one moment Carla has her vision and the next she and her family have moved to a new state to fulfill her purpose), and the angel front was a little too blunt and direct for my taste.
Even though I thought it was interesting that young angels got visions about their purpose on earth, a mission they were meant to complete, there wasn't particularly a new and refreshing take on them otherwise.
I think the mystery revolving the boy Carla sees in her vision (and appears to be meant to save) could've built up for much longer. Carla finds him almost immediately, and so simply, and the whole thing just feels less exciting. Although, the vision remains an enigma throughout the book and will still have you wondering what it is that's going to happen.
Readers will have different opinions on the high school parts of 'Unearthly.' Carla being an angel (well, half) and having this vision she's trying to figure out is never forgotten but there is a good chunk of just being a teenager and I actually found those parts very charming and enjoyable.
The classroom scenes were so funny and I loved Carla's friends, they were just really great and well-written, the kind of characters you'd like as your own friends because they were that awesome.
Carla was a likable, enjoyable protagonist and narrator. I have to say the whole deal with the orange hair was a little distracting (I know, it's silly. But really, all I thought about was this weird girl with dye-damaged orange hair.)
Hand did a good job of including Carla's mom and brother in the storyline, especially Jeffrey who wasn't a necessary character but who would've been missed if he'd been removed.
A love triangle was not expected, but wait.. it was sort of a non-love triangle love triangle, done with taste
I was totally caught off guard by Tucker. Hand really succeeded with a believable "hate turned love relationship." I made a total one-eighty - finding him rude and obnoxious to funny and charming. I did in fact like Christian and his subtle ways, as well, but he was held at a distance where you didn't really know where you had him. Tucker had such charisma, he had me smiling like an idiot.
I was intrigued by the concept of the Black Wings (totally adored the idea that Black Wings oozed this painful sorrow about them) but the one big encounter with a Black Wing left me unsatisfied, and frankly, a little weirded out. I'd hoped there'd be more exposure to them, something I'm sure will be presented more in the second installment.
As 'Unearthly' got to its climax and everything that'd been built up regarding Carla's purpose started to unfold I found myself in an awfully tense state. There's most definitely a pleasing, interesting twist and I'm curious to see how Hand takes it from here.