Author: Cynthia Hand
Publication Date: January 4, 2011
Series: Unearthly #1
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
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?
I love Clara. I don't really know what to say about her to explain all of the reasons why I love her. She is very realistic. She is pretty but isn't vain about it. Until she gets a bad dye job and then she's totally insecure. I love that! How many of us walk around thinking that we're not vain like some people, until we get a terrible haircut or have to walk around wearing something completely dorky? Then we become as concerned with how we look as the worst of them. It shakes our confidence. It makes us insecure. It's little things like that which made me fall in love with Clara because she is alive on the pages like she's my long lost sister. She has flaws. But she is also determined and she holds herself accountable when she makes mistakes.
The supporting characters are awesome. Clara's mother is one of the best parental figures I've read in YA. She's supportive and protective and involved in Clara's life. The interaction between Clara and her brother are brilliant and true. I love it that Clara doesn't have to hide her wings around her family and that they're all in it together no matter what. Her classmates are well-written, and they all act appropriately teenage. Wendy and Tucker are my favorites! But I won't go into too much of my opinions of Clara's friends (of which I have many) because I don't think I can do it without spoiling some stuff.
I also like it that Clara is the angel rather than the clueless, naive human chick who's also weak and vulnerable and stupid. She isn't some depressingly average, idiotic waif of a girl who is being wooed by something dark and sinister. Neither is she a fallen being doomed to walk the earth forever in tragedy. She has a purpose. She was born with this purpose in life and must discover what that purpose is and carry it out. This angel book had a plot! Not that the others don't - I just feel like this one is stronger. The reader knows from the beginning that Clara has something she must accomplish and that the story will be leading up to that.
So yes, this is definitely the best angel book I've read. The end is satisfying but still leaves me anticipating the sequel. A lot. I loved it and I can't wait for the next one. :)
A couple of asides: 1) I'm totally team Tucker, and 2) This is one of the most gorgeous books I have ever seen. It is absolutely beautiful and if you don't have a finished physical copy, you should get one. The shiny will blow your mind. Even without the dust jacket it is shiny and awesome. Pictures can't come close to representing the glitzy sparkle that is this book.