Cynthia Hand has brought a fresh new voice to the world of angel literature. Her writing is beautiful, perfectly descriptive without being overwrought. Falling into Unearthly is like being sucked into one of Clara's visions: so real and vivid that readers will feel like they're living the story in the moment with the lovable heroine. Clara's mental voice seems utterly authentic as a teenage girl. Even though she is dealing with the supernatural, she still has the same trials and tribulations, fears and doubts that would be familiar to any teen. Unlike many contemporary heroines, Clara is not perfect and popular and beloved by everyone she meets. Her experience as the new kid at a cliquey high school brings her down to earth despite her heavenly heritage. However, in the face of her challenges both human and divine, Clara displays an admirable quiet strength and a lack of overdone angst which make her narration a pleasure to read. She is strong and stubborn, but still accessible on an emotional level. This, combined with her sass and snark and skill, will make readers fall in love with Clara's story from the very first page.
The author also displays an entertaining awareness of some of the cliches in young adult literature, and works many laugh-out-loud quips into the otherwise intense narrative. Even Clara's crush on high school heartthrob Christian Prescott, and the surprising teen love that develops later in the story, seem authentic and adorable, not the love-at-first-sight fantasy that is written into many YA novels. The final pages of this stunning debut are full of tearful and heart-pounding twists and turns that will leave readers stunned and breathless. The sense of mystery, and even foreboding, that set the tone of the novel from the first page is maintained until the very end, which is clearly left open for a sequel. I would have liked to see a more satisfying explanation for many of the events, but I loved this story so much that I will gladly return for the next installment of Clara's journey. The plot keeps a brisk pace, the characters are all engaging, and the romance is sweet -- making Unearthly one of the best and most captivating angel novels I've read in a long time.
Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher for an honest review. This did not affect my review in any way.
This novel hits shelves today! Click here to purchase Unearthly by Cynthia Hand.
This novel is part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.