Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

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Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: Great premise, relatable characters and some interesting moral dilemmas in a fast paced tale of angels that will have you turning the pages until late in the night. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: May 2011
Publisher: Egmont
ISBN: 978-1405259644

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Clara wants what ordinary teenagers want: friends, good school grades, a boyfriend. Only Clara isn't an ordinary teenager – she's part angel. She's fluent in all languages, naturally gifted academically and in sports. All the good stuff comes with a price, but even that's not so bad. Clara has a Purpose, an angelic calling, to save a mysterious boy from a forest fire, revealed to her in a series of visions that can strike any time of day or night.

Okay, so the visions are annoying, and she's not exactly sure about how she's going to save him - for a part angel, she's not that great at flying – but she has time to figure that out. Time to get to know her mystery boy, Christian. He's everything Clara's ever dreamed of. Her obsession with her Purpose soon becomes just obsession as she waits for the season of forest fires to come round.

Then Christian leaves the state to visit family, leaving Clara suddenly bereft. Without Christian to stalk, to study, and without her best friend Wendy to distract her, Clara finds herself spending time with Wendy's irritating brother Tyler.

Only the more she gets to know Tyler, the more she grows to like him. Like him in the distracting, taking time and attention away from her Purpose sense. As the fire season approaches, and her vision get clearer, Clara starts to realise that Christian isn't the only one who might be in danger, but how can she chose between her calling and her heart?

There aren't enough good teen books out there where the girl is the supernatural one. It's a format that has numerous advantages, not least the fact that it eliminates the need for the tiresome 'discovery of the supernatural' dance. The action and interest are immediate, the characters instantly intriguing.

The premise of Purposes is a great one. It allows Hand to include all that mystery and intrigue of the paranormal genre in a fresh and interesting way. We get little bits and pieces about the mythology of Clara's world, uncovering it as she does through her Purpose. Her helplessness and feelings of inevitability about it all make her relatable and likeable, unlike many paranormal characters who lack those distinctly human qualities.

There were a few fairly stereotypical plot devices – the loved/hated love triangle, the geeky friend who is an encyclopaedia of interesting things that help Clara with her purpose, not to mention the good old 'starting a new high school' trope – but again, Hand manages to work them in a way that comes across fresh and new. The moral dilemma of Clara going against her Purpose, her mission from God, to pursue her interest in the other boy, the fact that she moved clear across the country to find Christian in the new high school: it all adds up to a very interesting book that had me turning the pages long after I told myself I was going to put it down and get on with other things, like sleeping.

Overall, a great premise, with a twist in the tale that leaves the story wide open for a sequel that could easily be even more interesting.

My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy.

Fans of the Teen paranormal genre will find more strong characters and interesting plots in Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series and Lili St Crow's Strange Angels series.

Buy Unearthly by Cynthia Hand at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Unearthly by Cynthia Hand at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Unearthly by Cynthia Hand at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Unearthly by Cynthia Hand at Amazon.com.


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