This book had rave reviews on Good Reads so I was very hopeful about this one. This is a brilliant first book for Cynthia Hand. Unearthly is the first of a trilogy. Clara and her brother, Jeffrey, are angel-bloods. They have wings, can heal quickly and project light. Her mother is half angel and over 100 years old. Clara just started to have visions of her purpose. A purpose is the angel’s mission here on earth. Her visions involve a forest fire and a handsome boy. Her family moves to Wyoming so Clara can fulfill her purpose. She must die her hair a horrible color to cover her “glory” which is the light that she radiates. There she meets Christian Prescott, the boy in her visions. She is drawn to him, but not sure if because she is just attracted to him or if it is because of the visions. Tucker is always on the fringe, teasing her and distracting her. As her vision becomes more detailed, her powers grow and she is not sure who she is supposed to save.
Cynthia Hand does a great job building the characters and the setting. We get to explore Wyoming’s beautiful ruggedness throughout the story. Teen girls who love Twilight will love how the romance builds between Tucker and Clara. They will also enjoy the romantic tension between Clara and Christian. Hand has some religious elements, however faint, that make this read more multidimensional. I feel very strongly that you have to have some religion in angel fantasy or the story falls flat. I also enjoyed Angela as a character. She is also an angel-blood with some amazing powers. She befriends Clara and the two of them try to unravel some mysteries of angel lore.
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
Did you think Clara should end up with Christian?
What makes Christian appealing? What makes Tucker appealing? Who would you choose?
If appropriate – talk about how glory connects the angel-bloods to God? Why do you think they were not very religious in a traditional sense?
Clara was the new girl, people made fun of her hair and started rumors about her. Why do you think people do that?
Why was it so easy for her brother Jeffrey to transition to a new school?
Talk about how Clara and Angela’s upbringing was different?
Talk about the Dark Wings and how Clara could feel their sorrow.
What does purpose mean to you? How do you know what yours is?
What do you think is happening to Clara’s mom?
Why do you think Jeffrey’s wings turn dark?
Did you expect Christian to be who he was?
Tucker calls her Carrots. Talk about nicknames and why people have them.