Monday 10 June 2013

Review -- Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan


Title: Unspoken
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Series: Lynburn Legacies (1)
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Adults
Release Date: 11 September 2012
Date Read: May 2013
Rating: ★★★☆

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?

Kami has had an imaginary friend her whole life- Jared. He exists in her mind- having conversations with her, the one she turns to when she's had a bad day, her best friend. Imagine her surprise when Jared arrives to her tiny little town of Sorry-in-the-Vale and he's real. Their close proximity means that their emotions, thoughts, secrets are more open to each other more than ever before. Their friendship, so carefree and innocent before, has now turned into their worst nightmare. They know every detail in their lives, every event, every secret, every fear.

"The idea of it's kind of romantic," Holly said. "But it wouldn't be, would it?"

But how do they know whether or not they're going to turn against each other and spill their secrets. I love that Brennan took a different direction with her characters and their 'special bond' than most YA novels. Jared believes their connection is a gift. Kami, on the other hand, can't stop thinking about the fact that she's never alone. Jared will always be with her, in the corner of her mind. She can't even be sure whether the thoughts and emotions in her mind are her own, or just a projection of Jared's. The lines of their own individuality is slowly, but surely blurring together and they don't know how to stop it.

That being said, I love Kami and Jared's relationship. I love it when they're together but I love them as individuals, too. Kami is cheeky, smart, independent, strong, determined and she can flip a guy twice her size over her head. There is no line she won't cross to find the truth, and for justice to be served- a true journalist. She once held a petition to get one of the teachers in her school fired, which then resulted in said teacher to chase her around the school with a hockey stick. Girl has balls. Jared is the resident bad boy, and even though I have soft spots for bad boys, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't like Jared. He's witty, caring, fiercely loyal but at times, he was quite dependent on Kami. He's never had other friends so he never wanted to lose her. He worked so hard to try and satisfy and make Kami happy. But again, kudos to Brennan for acknowledging the fact that you can't find happiness in making other people happy. Seriously, Kami and Jared's relationship development was one of the funnest rides ever.

One thing that usually happens in YA novels is when the heroine finds herself a man, her friends literally doesn't come back for chapters and if they do, it's usually just for a minor appearance and off they go again, doing author-knows-what. But Angela and Holly are Kami's best friends and they were all kinds of awesome. They're the two most beautiful girls in school, one dubbed as a slut, Holly, and the other more of a prude since she turns down every guy, Angela. Angela hates everyone and everything, unless it's a couch or a bed and she can sleep on it. Holly is new to their group of friends but she is welcomed all the same. She doesn't feel sorry for herself, being called a slut just because she grew boobs at 11. I was surprised that she was so upfront about using her assets and not feeling guilty about having them at all. As she should. It was refreshingly different from all the pity parties these character tropes have in other YA novels.

Brennan's writing style is so different. I don't think I've read something quite like it, to be honest, in a while, at least. There's a fairytale-like quality to her storytelling, which of course, fits the novel perfectly. I would like more world-building in terms of the magical aspects and legends of the story. But apart from that, I loved it. It was witty, clever, whimsical and vivid, all the things it needed to be.

Unspoken is hugely character-driven. Looking back, it could've all gone horribly wrong so easily. But it didn't. I'm massively late for reading this just now but at the same time, I'm grateful because it means not having to wait quite so long for the sequel. And trust me, I need that sequel because the ending is just not ok.

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