Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
There seems to be no shortage of available paranormal fiction/romance novels for young adults today.
People of all ages have become familiar with the world of vampires and werewolves, largely due to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. However, there is a definite possibility that the vampire frenzy is fizzling, and that can only mean a new world of fantasy-fiction is ready to emerge and take its place.
In Cynthia Hand’s debut novel, Unearthly, she presents to readers the celestial yet tangible world of angels, seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Clara Gardner.
As an “angel-blood” (part human, part angel,) Clara begins to experience visions, which lead she and her family to a town in Wyoming where Clara tries to unravel exactly what her visions mean while she struggles with typical life as a teenager. However, the more answers she receives, the more questions she has. “Everything was falling into place. And out of place, at the same time.” Soon she must discover the difference between following her heart as a human and following the path that’s been laid out for her as an angel.
As soon as the book opens, readers are made aware of Clara’s “non-human” side, taking away the unnecessary element of identity-building and allowing the story to focus on more crucial aspects, such as what being an “angel-blood” truly entails. Still, there is plenty of mystery involved, even after the book’s conclusion.
Admittedly, I was initially skeptical about Hand’s story, as it seemed all too easy to make parallels with Twilight and other young-adult works. However, the novel grew on me after a few chapters when I realized the story was about more than finding one’s soul mate and staying with them forever; rather, Hand spins a tale about what it feels like to be different from one’s peers, and what it means to live a life that is largely determined by fate and other “forces” that are beyond one’s control.
While the story is obviously fantasy, there’s something more conceivable about Hand’s world of angels compared to other fantasy genres. She manages to take something mythical and classic and weave it into something spiritual and modern.
For this generation of young adults, perhaps angels will become the new vampires.