Unearthly - Cynthia Hand This review is also featured on Tasty Books!A typical conversation I have with my friends/family:Me (Reading something): UGH I HATE THIS SHIT SO MUCH.Friend/Family member: Then why don't you stop reading it?Me: Because ... what if it spontaneously becomes awesome or something? I know, it never really happens, but WHAT IF.And it's true. It hardly happens. It's very rare that I start off hating a book, and then end up really liking it. I can only think of a handful of times it has happened. ... Well, Unearthly was one of those rare books.I did not really expect to like this book. I probably wouldn't have picked it up, except I couldn't find much at the library that I wanted to read––plus, I had seen some glowing reviews of it. So I said to myself, Ah what the heck. It's summer. I can stand to read something fluffy, even if it isn't that good.When I opened this book, I quickly realized it was a book about angels. And that made me nervous. Most YA books I've read about angels have been train wrecks––Hush, Hush, Fallen, Halo ... You get the idea. Not only that, but the front page had a blurb from Alexandra Adornetto herself. So I'm like:Oh God, what have I gotten myself into this time?And as I started this book, I strongly disliked it. The beginning was very rough for me, which is part of why I knocked off a star. It really felt like the beginning to every other paranormal romance out there:- Protagonist (Clara) is supernatural––part angel, to be specific.- She has a prophetic dream about a hawt guy in a burning forest. Oh noez! She decides it is her destiny to save him (because the idea is that every angel has a special "purpose" that they have to carry out).- Clara and her family totally abandon their home and move to where this hawt guy (Christian) is, so that Clara can save him when the time comes. (Clara figured out where he lived based on the license plate on a car she sees in the recurring vision of him.)So, seems like a really clichéd and predictable beginning. I'm like, Oh boy. Now I guess Clara is going to start stalking Christian and obsessing over him (and/or vice versa). And then she'll save him from a fire, and they're going to fall in insta-love and be making out with each other every five seconds. And I'll be like:Not to mention, Clara was a total pain in the ass for the first fourth of the book or so. I mean, she was just such an asshole. See my first few statuses, and you can see how I felt about her. She spent a lot of time talking about how she was naturally beautiful due to her angel blood––and then she kept criticizing other girls' looks. For example:"They seem friendly enough. Definitely not pretty people, all wearing T-shirts and jeans, braids and ponytails, not a lot of makeup. But nice. Normal."At first I felt like:I really did not like her. I thought she was another Mary-Sue-ish bitchface.Yet, somehow about halfway through this book I found myself like this:So, now you're probably wondering why I liked this book so much. And, well, I'm still trying to put my thoughts together and explain.Basically––yes, this book has the setup of pretty much every other paranormal romance out there. But instead of making it crappy and predictable, Cynthia Hand actually made it work. Not only that, but the book actually had twists I did not expect at all. WHAT'S THIS? A PARANORMAL ROMANCE THAT'S NOT UTTERLY PREDICTABLE?You're probably thinking:But, it's true. Here, lemme explain why this book was actually pretty great.Clara is not a whiney, boy-obsessed idiot.She may have started off annoying, but by the end of the book I respected Clara. I'm still not crazy about her, but she had some admirable traits. As I said, I expected her to become entirely infatuated with Christian, and talk and think about nothing but him, and cry over him constantly, etc. But no! Clara actually spent time with friends like a normal teenager––instead of spending all her time stalking a boy (or being stalked by a boy). And her friends were not just cardboard dummies, either. (Well, Wendy kind of was. But Angela ... I loved Angela. She was supa cool.)But what was most important was, Clara realized that she had to fulfill her "purpose" no matter what, and that was her main focus. She realized that, even if Christian did not like her in a romantic way, it was still her duty to save his ass from that fire––and she was going to do it, dammit. And she didn't just sit around waiting for it to happen, either. She actually practiced her flying, practiced lifting heavy duffel bags (because she knew she'd have to lift Christian out of the fire and all). So, go Clara! Woohoo!The romance was actually well-developed.WARNING, this is a minor spoiler. So if you don't want any spoilers at all, maybe you should skip this section.Anyway, believe it or not, Clara did not actually fall in love with Christian. WHUUUUT. Nope, none of that insta-love, soul-mate crap. She fell in love with Tucker––a guy who she actually got to know and developed feelings for over an extended period of time. *GASP!*I mean, she did still seem interested in Christian. And I imagine she'll get to know him better and he may end up being a conflict ... But still, I liked that she didn't totally lust after him, and when he asked her out she didn't dump Tucker or anything stupid like that. So, YES. THANK YOU, CYNTHIA HAND. This is paranormal romance done correctly!Clara's mom is a frickin' badass.You're probably like ... lolwut?But seriously, when was the last time you saw a really awesome mom in a YA book? A lot of YA books suffer from "Disappearing Parent Syndrome" in which the parents are painfully absent or clueless during the whole story. Either that, or the parents are really awful and constantly arguing with their angsty teen child.And sure, Clara and her mom have some arguments. But over all, they have more of a Gilmore Girls-esque relationship. (Clara even said so herself.) And that was something refreshing. As a teenage girl who thinks my mom is awesome, it was nice to read a book in which the mother and daughter were actually friends––and in which the mom actually played a significant role in both her daughter's life and in the story. GO CLARA'S MOM.The ending blew my mind.Once I started getting to the end of this book, I had no idea how Ms. Hand was going to finish it. There was a lot leading up to this forest fire incident, so I feared there was going to be some really predictable and/or anti-climatic ending.But no. Clara ended up having to make a really tough decision between what she wanted for herself, and what her greater purpose was. Like, my stomach actually hurt a bit when I tried to imagine myself in her place. It was like, DAMN CLARA, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?And then suddenly, this HUGE plot twist came out of nowhere. I mean, I did not see it coming AT ALL. Normally I hate really big plot twists like that, but in this case ... I actually really liked it. I thought it added quite a bit of intrigue to the story, and I'm eager to see what happens with it in the next book.GAHHH CHRISTIAN IS ALSO AN ANGEL-BLOOD. WHAAAAAAT.So, yeah. This book was a pretty crazy journey for me. I started off loathing it, yet by the end I was like:I really can't wait to read Hallowed.