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A Reader of Fictions: Angel of the Morning - Pretenders

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Angel of the Morning - Pretenders

Unearthly
Unearthly, Book 1

Author: Cynthia Hand
Genre: young adult, fantasy
Pages: 448 (I read this on my Kindle, but it really didn't feel that long)
ARC Acquired From: HarperTeen via Net Galley

Brief Summary:
Clara has known she was special (really special, not the your-parents-say-you're-special-but-you're-not kind of special) since she was 14, when her mom revealed to her that they are both part angel. Her mother is a Dimidius, half-angel, while she is but one-quarter angel. These descendants of angels refer to themselves as angel-bloods, not by the biblical term of Nephilim. What does this mean realistically? Clara has wings, extra athleticism, glory (super shiny commune with God state) and, oh yeah, her purpose. The first book in this new series focuses on her purpose. Every angel-blood receives one somewhere between their sixteenth and twentieth years; they learn what they are meant to do through visions. On the basis of hers, her family moves from California to Wyoming. Of course, nothing's going to come easy, considering how vague the visions are, but at least they involve a hottie.

Review:
Despite having read and been disappointed by a number of these paranormal series books, I still get really excited for every single one. Unearthly was no exception, except in the sense that this one proved not to be disappointing. Although this may not be a book I actually add to my personal library, I did love almost every minute of reading it and figuratively cannot wait for the next in the series.

Angel books can be really awful, even in the context of how bad some of the teen paranormal romances can be. When you bring in the whole pesky religion business, which is somewhat unavoidable with the whole angel thing, a story can go from fun to preachy in less time than it takes to cross yourself. Hand does a good job with this delicate subject: she does not ignore the issue, but nor does she dwell on it. The book feels like fantasy not like an allegory or disguised lecture on the one true god. Maybe she's got an agenda with her angel story, but I don't think so.

One of the things I appreciate about Unearthly, which falls into the realm of spoilers is that, even though there is a super perfect guy, she does not go for him. The boy in her purpose, Christian (for serious, she went there) is the super sexy guy with no faults who is dating the hot bitchy girl. She describes initial encounters with him thus: "And so far in the span of two weeks, the stars align exactly three times and he ends up in the desk next to mine. I smile and say hello. He smiles back and says hi. For a moment, an undeniable force seems to draw us together like magnets. But then he opens his notebook or checks his cell phone under his desk, signifying that our Nice weather we're having chitchat is over." It begins in a barf-worthy place, but then goes to a more realistic, this-magic-emotion-is-all-in-her-head-place. In another story, Personal Demons for example, he would feel drawn to her and she to him and no obstacle could possibly stand in the way of their monumental and immediate love. I really appreciate that Hand did not go that route, at least not yet. Just because the guy is a dreamboat and perceived as perfect (or even is perfect) that does not mean that he is perfect for the heroine.

The other thing I loved a whole lot were the pop culture references weaved in. The one that sold me was the nickname given to the main character by the guy that was not Christian. That is a reference (and hopefully an intentional one) to Anne of Green Gables, which made me, from first use of the nickname, root for that guy wholeheartedly. Her chapter titles are also frequently references, such as "My Purpose-Driven Life" (I burst out laughing reading that one). The song from the post's title is also referenced. For me, pop culture references = win, both because I love pop culture and because it's good not to take oneself or one's story too seriously.

Paranormal YA fans, find yourselves a copy of this one as soon as it's published and get a-reading!

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