It's always harder to review books I liked, especially when thinking back on it, there are many characteristics of the book that were similar to the ones I didn't like. On the surface Unearthly is like every other YA paranormal book out there: super special protagonist, love triangle with two hot guys, a bitchy popular girl who hates the protagonist, and some supernatural elements thrown in. But there are several elements that differentiate Unearthly from other YA paranormal romances.
For one thing, Clara is a likable Mary Sue. Yes, she's beautiful, unnaturally good at school and athletic activities, and is even strong for an angel, but she's also a good friend and not everything comes easily to her. She has to work at flying and attracting her initial love interest, and her powers do have some consequences. For example, the glory leads to her having to dye her hair an ugly orange color, which other kids make fun of her for.
The main main selling point of this novel is the romance which wasn't typical of other YA paranormal romances. Clara's relationship with Tucker is healthy in that he's actually a good guy and I have no doubt that either of them could live without the other. It also develops in a believable way. Although there's some initial attraction on his part, it's not until they get to know each other that they fall in love.
Even Clara's relationship with Christian is more believable than the romances in other YA novels. While they do have a supernatural connection to each other, it doesn't trump Clara's real love for Tucker or Christian's relationship with Kay. Christian breaks up with Kay because he thinks he's meant to be with someone else, not because he's in love with Clara. Clara pursues Christian initially because she believes she's supposed to save his life. Also, their connection is explained by the mythology although the purpose hasn't been revealed.
The secondary characters in this novel are also likable and interesting. Clara's relationship with her family was also believable. Yes, there was the cliché absent parent, but her mother was actually present for most of the novel and is generally a good parent. She's actually interested in Clara's life.
Clara's friends are also interesting and likable. Lauren proves to be a good friend and she's more than just a lackey. She tells Clara when she's feeling left out and she disapproves of Clara pursuing Christian without being painted as a demon incarnate. What was unbelievable is that Lauren considers Clara her best friend after only knowing her a few months despite having three friends that she's known for years.
Angela might be more favorite character in this novel. She intrigues me because she's ambiguously good. Although she's a good friend to Clara, I find myself wondering if there's something more to her. I question her motives and if she's being completely honest with Clara. I enjoy her spunk and her direct way of communicating.
Also, Kay, the bitchy popular girl, is a brunette (not blonde) and she's somewhat sympathetic. She has a legitimate reason for disliking Clara: Clara and her boyfriend are clearly attracted to each other and Clara's pursuing him.
The mythology makes more sense than it does in a lot of other YA paranormal novels although I fear that it may fall apart as more is revealed in later novels. For now, it appears that the role of angels make sense and their powers aren't completely out of left field. My main issue is the fact that Clara's mother is over 100 years old. It appears that she does age which means she's aging slowly but that begs the question of why Clara and, especially Angela aren't also aging slowly. I hope that this is explained in the sequels.
Lastly, the writing was a bit awkward but not unreadable, and it was much better than some of the other YA novels out there. Cynthia Hand likes to abuse commas but at least it's better than abusing the elongated dash.
Overall, a fun read.