"It's like you're...something else."
Simply put, I loved Unearthly. It is the perfect blend of a wonderful young heroine, two believable love interests (an area where so many other writers stumble), great supporting characters, action, fantasy, and romance. OK, enough raving for the moment.
In Unearthly, sixteen year-old Clara is Quartarius - the daughter of a half-angel mother and a human father. All angels have a life Purpose, and Clara's is to rescue an unknown teenage boy from a forest fire. Clara knows only the location, so she, her mother, and younger brother move from California to Jackson Hole, Wyoming so Clara can meet the boy and fulfill her Purpose. She soon meets Christian, high school stud and the boy from her visions. The attraction is instantaneous and, fortunately for Clara, apparently mutual. Just one minor stumbling block - Christian's girlfriend.
Clara struggles to fulfill her angelic obligations while experiencing all the travails and thrills of a normal teenage girl. She has a very close bond with her mother, and she frequently questions her mother about their shared angel biology. Her mother, Margaret, is forthcoming with some information, but she is keeping some secrets which frustrates Clara to no end.
About those love interests... So often, YA writers throw in a love triangle that really is not a triangle at all - it's very clear who the heroine is meant to be with. In Unearthly, we get a true love triangle, with two very different boys who appeal to Clara for very different reasons. It's easy to imagine her with either of them, which is a clear demonstration of Cynthia Hand's writing skill. Throughout the story, I wavered in my own choice for Clara, just as she did.
This book is not just about teenage romance. It's got wonderful angel lore, several tension-filled scenes, and some major surprises, the last of which truly shocked and thrilled me. Clara is faced with a final choice, both of which potentially involved devastating consequences. These scenes were so real and so powerful, and I felt so strongly for Clara as she made her fateful decision.
I love when I discover a series late - it means I can snap up the sequels without waiting, and I can't wait to see how the rest of this series plays out.