Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: Unspoken
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Pages: 3886 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon; Barnes and Noble; Book Depository


Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the- Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?


Review:


Don't you just love it when a book surprises you? My last experience with a Sarah Rees Brennan novel left me unimpressed, but Unspoken really pulled out all the stops and made me fall in love. Her improvement was so strong that I even went out and bought the other two Demon's Lexicon books!

A Gothic novel may not seem like it would be hard to write, but creating the right atmosphere and keeping the descriptions and adjective choices dreary can be difficult. Brennan keeps it dark and mysterious while not letting it delve further into melodrama than it should; self-awareness of depressing names like Sorry-in-the-Vale and the Sorrier River add a touch of humor.  And speaking of humor...

The banter between characters is hilarious, but I worried for a few moments because it seemed to have a Cassandra Clare-ish flare to it and I... dislike her, to put it kindly. Then I figured out what the difference was: the witty one-liners are a piece of the whole or a bonus, not the main event. Where they are overused in Clare's novels to compensate for poor characterization and keep readers coming back, they are spread out well and used as characterization the way they should be. Realizing this left me free to enjoy gems such as this:

What's going on with you? Jared asked out of the blue.

[...]

Beginning a new era of journalistic history, Kami told him, sending her cheer through their connection. Also, to be perfectly honest, Angela and I were slapping our asses.

As one does, said Jared. (ARC 10-11)
 Kami was a fantastic lead full of the kind of life and natural eccentricities I see in people every day, and I can't help but feel a soft spot for a fellow journalist, though my time as a journalist has come and gone. Jared was just as great of a lead even if I will happily admit to a desire to kick him until he bleeds for something he does at the very end of the book. One of Unspoken's shining beacons is the complexity of Kami and Jared's mental connection and how the complexities of their separate personalities make it even richer. That didn't surprise me after seeing what she did with brothers Nick and Alan in The Demon's Lexicon.

There were a few stumbles along the way as other books gained my interest and the mysteries of Kami and Jared's mental link, along with all the secrets Sorry-in-the-Vale has to offer, didn't seem to be getting anywhere, but it is a decently paced novel. The last hundred pages bring an intense climactic scene and set the stage for the next book in the trilogy. What will Kami and Jared do? Can they win? -shakes Kindle- Why did I read this a year-and-a-half before the sequel comes out?!

Maybe I should be taking a star off for the ending. Though I support Kami's choice for her characterization because it shows she isn't infallible and perfect, it's Jared's reaction and the sort-of cliffhanger that really get my goat. I get why Jared reacts the way he does after seeing how he reacted to the idea of it whenever it was brought up. Does that make me want to kick him any less? Absolutely not. I enjoyed myself so much that I'll let it keep that last star and become one of my rare five-star reads.

5 stars!


What am I reading next?: Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen