Book Reviews

[review] Unspoken – Sarah Rees Brennan

10866624Release Date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 370
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased copy

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?

Tell Me More: I’d never read a Sarah Rees Brennan book before Unspoken, and refreshingly enough, I had no idea what to expect. What I got was a story that surprised me at every turn, sharp humour and fantastic, memorable characters.

Kami Glass is the kind of heroine that I fully expected to end up disliking. Her tenacity and stubbornness could have easily grated on my nerves, but I remember finishing the first chapter with the indelible sense that she’d already won me over from page one. She asks the questions no one else even thinks of, and she follows through on all of her hunches with nary a passing thought for possible consequences.

One thing you might notice from recent positive reviews is my discussion of voice. Kami’s voice is sharp as a blade, with a wit that seems almost effortless. The closest comparison I can make is to Matilda–she is precocious and stubborn, and very very smart. Kami might be drawn to mysteries, but she isn’t drawn into them so far that she forgets who she is. The connections that begin to form between her and the Lynburn brothers are only another layer to her personality, and they don’t overtake her completely. Her sense of self is so strong that I couldn’t help but believe in her.

Another of Unspoken’s many strengths is its mythology. The magic that Brennan builds into the story fits perfectly with its setting, enhancing it and enchanting readers enough to keep them turning the pages. Kami’s town is easy to imagine, with all of its quirks and strange bits, and unlike other fictional towns in paranormal stories, it was clear that this is a place with history beyond what Kami knows or even finds out in the course of the novel. As a reader, I don’t need to know all of the history to appreciate what Brennan has created, but as an aspiring writer, it was amazing to see and feel that history. She knows the answers to the questions her readers can and will ask, and even if those answers aren’t revealed, the story is grounded by them. And it’s that certainty that ensures I’ll be picking up the second and third book in this series, even without that crazy, crazy cliffhanger ending.

The Final Say: Unspoken not only gives readers a new setting to explore and magical quandaries to solve, but it ties both of those things to a heroine that truly deserves her own story.

836009About Sarah

Sarah Rees Brennan is Irish and currently lives in Dublin. For a short stint, she lived in New York and became involved with a wide circle of writers who encouraged and supported her, including Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. She has developed a wide audience through her popular blog, mistful.livejournal.com, where she writes movie parodies, book reviews and some stories.

Add Unspoken on Goodreads | Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahreesbrenna | Visit Sarah’s website

Order Unspoken from Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters

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2 replies »

  1. Nice review! I don’t think I’ve read anything by this author yet, but this story does sound interesting. And finding a story with a full realized world and setting is always a treat. Making a place fully come alive is definitely an acquired skill.

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