Unearthly by Cynthia Hand, a review

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Published 2011 by HarperCollins, 435 pages
Genre: Young adult supernatural

Clara, 16 years old, learns from her mother that she is 1/4 angel. What?? There’s a verse in Genesis to support the mixing of angel and humankind:  “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days–and also afterward–when the angels went to the daughters of men and had children by them.” This book takes the premise that that mixing occurred and still occurs, so there are half-angels like Clara’s mother and Clara’s friend Angela, and 1/4 angels like Clara and her younger brother Jeffrey.

Clara has a hard time believing she’s an angel, until her mother shows Clara her mother’s wings. Clara finds she has them too. Each part-angel, says her mother, has a Purpose which is revealed when he or she is a teenager through visions. It’s very important to do what the visions are telling you to do, to fulfill your Purpose. Otherwise you are disobeying. You may end up as a Dark Wing, the rogue angels with black wings who are absolutely up to no good.

Clara’s visions show her rescuing a boy her age from a forest fire. So her mother moves her little family to Wyoming, the setting for the visions, and Clara locates the boy in her new high school. Clara learns to fly and carry weight while flying, so she can execute the rescue in the vision. She also finds the boy, Christian, attractive. But Christian leaves for the summer, and Clara falls in love with another boy.

Will Clara be able to rescue Christian, as in her vision? Or will various obstacles that come up prevent it? And what of the Dark Wing that seems to be stalking her family? Does she need to fear him?

Some questions raised, especially concerning Clara’s secretive mother, are not answered. This is the beginning of a series, so I expect eventually they will be.

I don’t want to spoil this book for you. It’s very well written and hard to put down, with well-developed characters for the most part and a surprising twist at the end. However, the outcome left me disappointed.  The angels in this book aren’t directed by an intelligent, benevolent God. It’s more of a random universe that Clara lives in.

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