Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

I’ve given up reading YA paranormal romance because I’ve discovered that it’s not something that I enjoy. However, Unearthly received positive feedback from many reader friends last year so I thought it would be a good idea to give it a try. Readalong buddies Holly and Janice agreed to pick up Unearthly as our next read. Can I just say that I love that our readalongs have become a regular thing? Thanks again to my book BFF Celina for my copy of Unearthly.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

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 placeย—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 makeย—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 was a pretty easy read for me. I was surprised by how fast I went through it and I apologized to my readalong buddies that I wasn’t able to pace myself to read it in chunks for our discussion. It’s just that I kept wanting to find out more about the angel-bloods and Clara’s purpose (basically her mission in life as an angel-blood). However, I’m sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy reading Unearthly as much as I expected. I don’t know if it’s because my expectations were raised based on all the glowing reviews that I’ve seen or it’s really just a case of YA paranormal romance not being a good fit for me. The things that put me off the genre were present in Unearthly – girl chasing after a hot guy who seems perfect (even if it’s supposedly tied to her life’s purpose), love triangles, the story focusing more on the romance than on the worldbuilding. Clara is a smart girl and I wanted to tell her that she can find out more about her purpose, without having to go crazy over a good-looking guy who is already in a relationship with someone else. I wanted to whack her in the head with something. By the time a more reasonable love interest came along, I was too annoyed to find the romance swoon-worthy.

Did I regret reading Unearthly? No, I’m more frustrated than anything else that I don’t have the gene present in other readers who loved this. Like I said, Unearthly was easy to fall into. It’s just that I wanted the story to have a more solid foundation – maybe a concrete history of angel-bloods or deeper friendships between Clara and her new buddies. It felt like the mythology was a bit flimsy and I wanted something other than the romance to hold on to. If paranormal YA is your kind of thing or if you find the premise intriguing, then I have a feeling you’ll love this more than I did. I’m still curious about the sequel (and I already borrowed a copy) because I want to know more about Clara’s purpose – maybe her mom will reveal more details about her past. But I’m definitely not getting my hopes up. I have a feeling I’d find Hallowed easy to read but I don’t think it will end up in my list of favorites. Unearthly reminded me a bit of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, which I thought was amazing but didn’t work for other readers. So you never really know unless you give the book a try. Heads up, this post from Heidi of Bunbury in the Stacks shows pictures featuring the setting of the book – it might give you a better idea of how everything looks like.

Other reviews:
Janicu’s Book Blog
Bunbury in the Stacks
One More Page
The Readventurer

17 thoughts on “Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

  1. I am totally with you on paranormal romance in YA, I really just think it’s not for me because I almost always end up thinking I shouldn’t have bothered reading a book or not liking the characters or the plot points. I’m glad you gave this a go and were able to enjoy it!

    • Looks like we have similar thoughts about YA paranormal romance! I think I’m more willing to try adult paranormal romance because I’ve gotten tired of the similarities that I’ve seen in its YA counterparts. Yeah, I don’t regret reading this but I just wanted to say that I didn’t love it.

  2. I wouldn’t feel too bad about not loving this one, I think it has a lot of aspects to it that just won’t work for everyone. Love triangles and obsessive crushes are deal breakers for a lot of people. I liked the second romance, but yeah if I wasn’t into it I’m not sure the angel mysteries would have been enough to hold onto my interest either.

    • Yeah, I guess I was just expecting more from the book than the usual love triangle and obsessive crush found in paranormal YA. I think most readers fell in love with it because of the second romance. I saw that one coming and didn’t find it surprising or swoon-worthy. Maybe our next readalong pick will be better? ๐Ÿ˜›

  3. I really liked this when I read it but I think that was, in part, because it was before I read too much YA PNR. I try not to read too much of it because it has become too much of the same. (as has dystopia/post-apoc but I don’t think I’ll ever give those up:)) I like Smoke & Bone better than this and even though I’ve had Hallowed for ages, I’ve never gotten around to it. I’m not too surprised when people didn’t love it but really, aren’t you glad you finally finished it? This and a few other books (Anna & The French Kiss, Divergent, etc.) are books that people stare you down for not reading. So good on you:)

    • Flann, that’s a nice way of putting it! I guess I was curious about this mostly because everyone else has read it and I wanted to see if it would change my opinion about paranormal YA. So yes, I guess it’s good that I’ve read it because now I know what everyone’s talking about.

      I remember reading several paranormal YA novels before starting the blog and discovered that I’m really not a fan of that subgenre. I’m not a big fan of dystopian books, either. ๐Ÿ˜› But I’m always willing to try certain titles if they come highly recommended.

    • Maggie, I know! At least I found a nail polish color to match its cover. I haven’t read Angelfall yet but it’s on my wishlist since I’ve heard good things about it from blogger and Goodreads friends. I’ll keep it in mind the next time I want to read PNR. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Thanks for the links, Chachic! I totally feel you on this one. I enjoyed it significantly more, but I feel like it was a good fit for me at the time, and I wasn’t so burned out on YA Paranormal romance at the time. I think your expectations failed both because the genre isn’t perfect for you, and the hype. I agree that Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a much stronger book, and I can’t wait for the next installment of that series!

    • Thanks for uploading those pictures! Like I said, it’s always nice to get an idea of what the places in the books that we read look like. I agree with what you said, I might have liked it better if I wasn’t so burned out with paranormal YA. I’m reading the sequel now and it’s okay so far, I don’t think I’ll love it either but I think it’s very easy to get into.

  5. I thought it was just okay. I’ve moved out of the YA and YA mature to meatier stories lol.
    I’m reading this author, Alexandria Infante`, her book came out last year; Teaching between Midnight and Dawn (Arieanna’s Legend), and I totally loooove the characters. I also like the fact that she’s a latina author, cuz we don’t see many of us in this field. Her characters have depth, you feel them, and even though its a paranormal you can totally feel the love between the two main characters.
    She also has a chapter of Teach Me the Night in the back of this book, so you kinda know some of what’s gonna happen in book two that i think is awesome.
    I would totally recommend her to you Chachic as one of this authors to watch for. I’m so loving her stuff. She has a website where you can read sample chapters from her books, and I liked that too ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks for the recommendation! I think adult urban fantasy works better for me than paranormal YA – I love the Kate Daniels series and I keep meaning to read more in that genre.

  6. Pingback: Shoot That Book: Hallowed | Chachic's Book Nook

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