by Cynthia Hand
Read: August 2011
Published: January 4, 2011 by HarperTeen
Source: Library book (later purchase)
Category: YA Paranormal Romance, Angels
Series: BOOK 1
by Cynthia Hand
Published: January 17, 2012 by HarperTeen
Source: Library book (future purchase)Category: YA Paranormal Romance, Angels
Series: BOOK 2
Book Description for 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. (From Goodreads)
Clara Gardner is part angel and every angel blood is born with a purpose on earth that they must fulfill. Although she's not told exactly what he purpose is, she gets glimpses of it from a reoccurring vision. What she sees leads her to move with her family, which consists of her mom and brother (also part angels), from California to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. But nothing is ever as easy - or clear - as it seems. As she works to discover her purpose, she also questions how much freedom she has to choose. Can she follow her purpose blindly? What if her heart takes her in another direction?
These books are extremely discussable. They feature some large life themes, including a very interesting free will vs. destiny (predestination) debate that carries through the series. I actually found the way this question is approached in this series to be very relatable. Part of that is the two guys that enter Clara's life - the one from her visions and the other one who is not part of The Plan. Yes, this series contains a love triangle, but it is one that I actually like.
There is no broody bad boy or insta-love in this series, and the love story develops slowly. While I read these books I kept wondering who is the better choice for Clara, not just who is the best guy. And I think in life, that is a very real question that we all ask ourselves about our relationships. This is also one of the few series where after two books, I'm not exactly sure what is going to happen with her love interests, although I do have hopes.
Despite the paranormal element and talk of purposes, the Unearthly series has a very contemporary feel to it. I connected to a lot of Clara's struggles and decisions in this story. She's trying to figure out what she's supposed to be doing with her life - and who she wants to be. Some of that has to do with the guys she meets. But some of that doesn't. These questions about identity also morph the series into having a New Adult vibe, especially in the second book as Clara nears the end of high school. Clara's family is also a big part of her journey through this series, and I love their relationships with each other.
Cynthia Hand takes the standard paranormal romance themes - supernatural beings, love triangles, high school etc. - and creates something new and exciting out of them. Clara even comments directly on some of these often recycled themes. I also love that Clara already knows she's part angel when Unearthly begins, saving the reader chapters of waiting for her to figure it all out. The first book does start of a bit slowly, but I was completely hooked by the end, and I think that Hallowed was even better. I have really enjoyed watching Clara grow up throughout this series - it has been an emotional journey so far, and I cannot wait to see her shine in the final book Boundless.
Boundless, the conclusion to the series, comes out January 22, 2012, so it's the perfect time to start reading these books. A novella called Radiant that takes place between books two and three has also just been released.