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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

UNEARTHLY By Cynthia Hand. Sydney: HarperCollins, 2011

Clara is part-angel. She has known this since she turned fourteen a couple of years ago. Like others of her kind, she expects to learn her “purpose” on earth, a task she must perform. According to visions she has been having, this seems to be saving a boy from a forest fire somewhere in the US state of Wyoming. Clara, her half-angel mother and her younger brother move to the small town where the boy, Christian, lives.

Clara knows she must get close enough to Christian to be on the spot whenever the disaster happens. She’s also learning to use her hidden wings, in case she needs to carry him.

But there are problems. Christian, a sweet boy liked by everyone, has a girlfriend whom he loves. Can Clara help him without interfering with his love life? Does she even want to? And what about her own love life, in the shape of the gorgeous Tucker, her friend’s brother? What happens when she’s carried out her angelic mission?

And how does she survive the Black Wimgs, a group of fallen angels who have plans of their own?

After some years of one vampire tale after another, it seems that angels are taking over the popular teen paranormal romance. In fact, when I told one of my students that I was reading this book for reviewing, she asked, "And is she red-haired?"

"Er, no, she has had to dye it red," I replied.

"Blonde, then."

She was right about that. So it seems that already there are conventions in this form of fiction. On the other hand, another character, who is also a part-angel, is dark.

This is the first angel romance I’ve read, myself, and it’s good readable stuff which the girls should enjoy, even if the main angel character is the girl rather than the boy. What would it be like to try to work out how to use wings? To have to hold back in athletics, dance and such because you’re so good at them that even if no one asks questions you feel you’re being unfair to the competition? And being good at everything doesn't necessarily mean you're good at getting every boy you might want.

I liked the author's description of Wyoming, which made me think it's a place I'd enjoy visiting; she lives not far from there herself, so knows about it. I'd never ski, but found it fascinating to read about in this book; there's a lot more to it than just Girl-Angel and the boys in her life. I suspect the author is a keen skier herself.

The girls will like it for certain; several were eyeing my copy of this book before the holidays began and I had to promise it would go into the library when reviewed before I could get it out of their clutches.

They will be even more pleased to find out that it;s the first of a series.

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