Unearthly - Cynthia Hand Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Review: It's been a long time since a book has completely floored me. Unearthly managed to do just that, and then some. This book begins with a gorgeous cover and ends with one hell of a cliffhanger. Simply put, I LOVED this book!!

The first thing that impressed me about Unearthly after the cover, that is was the simple yet amazing writing style. I love Hand's writing, I can't believe how smoothly the story flows from one scene to another. I like how her writing manages to be effortlessly easy to read and complex at the same time. I love the way she didn't dump anything on the reader but took the time to build the story and develop her characters. I also love how she shows scenes from the everyday life of Clara even if they aren't terribly important to the plot, when most authors simply sum up weeks in little more than a paragraph.

The characters were all wonderful, and definitely the main delight of the story. It's not apparent which guy's going to be the one who sweeps the heroine off her wings at the end, which is quite rare in most love triangles where it's painfully obvious that one guy was thrown into the story simply to keep the book interesting and not much beyond that.

Another original thing about Unearthly is that neither of the heroes is totally and irrevocably besotten with the heroine at first sight. Which was a really hard pill to swallow at times, like at prom, when it's obvious that Christian does have feelings for Kay but only because of how unexpected it was. I was assuming that beautiful angel + Prince Charming + rough cowboy = the typical yet fun love triangle, but there was nothing "typical" about the fact that neither of the heroes seems really into the heroine at all till more than halfway through the book. Again, sometimes this was hard to read about because Clara is such an amazing and real heroine and she didn't get as much love as she deserved IMO, but I think little quirks like this are what made me love and enjoy the book even more.

Most of the first books in a series tend to focus more on building the setting rather than building the story, and tend to be quick and short reads. In Unearthly, Hand builds the setting slowly, letting the readers absorb everything first before dumping a heap of information on them. So many things happened in this book that about halfway through, I was thinking it wouldn't have done too bad as a standalone novel.

The ending is what decided my 5-star rating for this book. After all the visions, I thought the ending would be rather predictable. Boy, was I wrong. All the pieces are there, but they fit together in the most unpredictable and surprising way. I'm glad Clara made the choices that she did, both romantically speaking and otherwise, even if it means she'll get into trouble with the Powers That Be. I'm also really glad that I didn't read this book as soon as it was released, because there's no way I would have been able to stand an entire year without knowing what happens next.

Favorite Quotes:

"What do you see in a guy like Christian Prescott?" he asked me that night when he dropped me off from prom. And what he was really saying then, what would have come through loud and clear if I hadn't been so blind was, why don't you see me?

"I like risking my life. Keeps things in perspective."

"What did the fish say when it hit a concrete wall?" he asked me. We're sitting on the bank of a stream and he's tying a fly onto my fishing rod, wearing a cowboy hat and red lumberjack-style flannel shirt over a gray tee. So adorable.
"What?" I say, he grins. Unbelievable of how gorgeous he is. And that he's mine. He loves me and I love him.
"Dam!" he says.

"I think he seriously believes that deflowering an angel could mean an eternity in fiery hell."

"As a serf, poor Christian has already been killed several times in our class. Aside from dying of the Black Plague on the first day, he's starved to death, had his hands cut off for stealing a loaf of bread, and been run down by his master's horse just for kicks. He's like Christian the fifth now."