Thursday, August 23, 2012

ARC Book Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: Unspoken
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Random House
Release Date:
September 11, 2012
Cover Impressions: OOOOOOOHHHHHH PREEETTTYYYY!  I really like this cover.  The silhouette effect creates a sense of mystery and the font adds a fantastical charm.  I cannot wait to see if/how this theme continues with the next book in the series.

The Gist:
For as long as Kami Glass can remember she has heard a voice in her head.  She has lost friendships and the other citizens of Sorry-in-the-Vale avoid her gaze but she has never been able to give up her imaginary friend.  When the mysterious Lynburn family returns to town, Kami is faced with the realization that Jared is not so imaginary and that if their connection could be real, perhaps Sorry In the Vale might also hold more sinister secrets. 

  Unspoken is based on a really interesting premise.  Kami and Jared have been able to hear one another since birth, but have convinced themselves that the other was not real.  When they finally discover each other, one might think that they would fall in the ultimate insta-love and proceed to sicken us with their every move.  BUT Brennan would not do this to us.  No, No, instead she wrote characters who recoiled at the thought of a real, physical person knowing their every intimate secret (who wouldn't?!).  To complicate matters, Kami is investigating the return of the Lynburn family, whom the townspeople speak of with both awe and fear and the sudden violence that has erupted in Sorry-in-the-Vale. 

The true strength of Unspoken lies in its characters.  There are no one dimensional characters here.  Each and every person, from Kami, to her friends, to her parents and brothers and the Lynburns, have unique and interesting qualities.  My favorite has go to be Angela, Kami's outspoken best friend.  She loathes nearly all people and covets a laziness that can only be matched by her brother, Rusty.  Angela has a quick wit and says whatever is on her mind.  This often leds to moments that have me literally laughing out loud such as:

"Angela spared a glare for Kami and then resumed her marathon glaring session at Jared.  'I'm not calling you that,' she announced flatly.  'It's too weird.  I'm going to call you Carl.' Jared scowled.  'I don't want you to all me Carl.'  'That's interesting, Carl,' said Angela, cheering up."

I also had a special place in my heart for Holly, the girl who hit puberty a little too hard and found herself shunned by most of the girls her age.  She is incredibly sweet and it is clear that she has tried to make friends with Kami and Angela for quite some time.  Even she gets a few great lines:

"'Right,' said Holly, 'Well.  If the unicorn is pink, about two feet tall, with a sparkly mane, we'll know my imaginary friend is real too.'"

Believe me, there are LOTS more examples of this fantastic dialogue, in fact, a number of quotes from Kami's dad can be found in the Notable Quotables section below.  In fact, in writing this review and reading others I have seen quote after quote after quote and hardly any repeated.  THAT is how good the dialogue is.

The plot of Unspoken moves smoothly as secrets are revealed and the danger heightens.  The story was not bogged down with the typical insta-love and love triangle that could have happened if Brennan when the easy route.  I did feel that Kami made some stupid decisions (creating a few "What, what, what are you doing? moments) and a few things could have been fleshed out further (such as the encounter with Henry Thornton) but overall, the action was exciting and suspenseful.  

I feel I must discuss the ending.  ABANDON HOPE OF NOT BEING SPOILED, ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE:  Kami's ultimate decision was unexpected in terms of the actions of most YA heroines, but was completely in line with who she is as a character.  Jared's reaction surprised me and broke my heart a little.  Endings like these are frustrating in that I feel unsatisfied.  Secrets have been revealed, plots uncovered and bad guys identified, but nothing has been solved.  That being said, it also accomplishes the author's purpose, which is to create in the reader a voracious longing for the next book!

Yes, yes, yes! to reading the next book the moment I can get my hands on it! 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

13 and up
Gender:  Both
Sex:  Kissing
Violence:  Knifeplay, ritual sacrifice, murder
Inappropriate Language: Asshole, Hell 
Substance Use/Abuse: None 

Notable Quotables:

Note: There are TONS of awesome quotes from this book but I thought I would pick a few from Kami's dad because parents hardly ever get the great lines in YA.

"Kami, I know all the other kids are throwing themselves down wells right now, but your mother and I have a firm policy of no danger sports until you're eighteen."

"'Why are you putting on lip gloss, my daughter?' Dad asked.  'Trip to the library?  Trip to the nunnery?  I hear the nunneries are nice this time of year.'"

"'Wearing that?  Wouldn't you fancy a shape-less cardigan instead?  You rock a shapeless cardigan, honey.'" 

Unanswered Questions:

Kami and Jared seemed to be able to block each other at times, so why doesn't Kami employ this strategy during awkward moments, such as when she is on a date with someone else?


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