Friday, 14 September 2012

Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (Lynburn Legacy #1)
Release Date: 13th September 2012 (UK)
Publisher: Simon&Schuster (UK)
Reason for reading: SRB is an all-time fave author and insanely funny!
Rating: 4/5
Source: Netgalley

Goodreads description:

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?

My thoughts:

Sarah Rees Brennan secured her place as one of my favourite authors ever with her fantastically twisty, utterly brilliant The Demon's Lexicon trilogy and her parodies of various tv shows/movies (seriously, they're hilarious, I'm more excited that the return of TVD means the return of SRB's parodies than that I actually get to watch it again) so I was naturally insanely excited for Unspoken.

Kami was such a fantastic character; headstrong and determined, possibly a little too curious for her own good, very witty and with just the right amount of quirk. She was everything you could want in a main character, she took risks and made decisions and had feelings about things that were happening, all of which brought you into her world and made you love her. One thing I love about SRB's books is that she focuses on the concept of relationships quite a lot, which is something I find intriguing. Not just the whole boy-meets-girl-they-fall-in-love thing, but the intricacies and dynamics of a variety of different relationships.I sometimes feel that relationships in YA can be a little one-dimensional and often rather cliche, as though it's the last thing on the author's mind, but they are like a central point in Sarah's stories I think that adds a richness to them. I loved the exchanges between Kami and Angela, who were clearly close friends, and then the addition of both Rusty, Angela's brother, and Holly, another of their friends, into the mix. While I loved the connections between the Lynburns, the Lynburns and the villagers and Kami and the various people in her life, it was the connection between Kami and Jared that interested me most, because both thought the other was imaginary...until they ran into each other in an elevator. 

I think SRB handled this aspect of the story, the relationship between Kami and Jared, superbly. Kami wasn't all "Oh hey, you're like, the person who knows me best in the world and, whaddaya know, you're kinda cute, let's go out". It was so much more complicated than that, so much to do with how you handle the idea of not knowing where your emotions end and the other person's begin, of whether anything you feel is actually genuine or the result of this bond that you have no control over and whether you can actually get past all that. It was interesting that Kami and Jared had such different approaches to their bond. Kami, who has always had stable, loving relationships in the form of friends and family, wanted the bond severed, wanted to see what remained when that was taken away, whereas Jared, who'd never had anyone in his life who cared about him apart from Kami was desperate to keep it. He idolised the idea of their bond, building it up to be proof that they were soulmates, destined to be together rather than the result of anything else.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from a gothic mystery, but Unspoken definitely delivered. There was the mystery in the sense of Kami figuring out what the hell was going on in Sorry-in-the-Vale, but more so than that there were all the other, smaller mysteries that added up to create the big picture; just who or what are the Lynburns, what is Kami's mum hiding, why isn't Angela answering her phone and what is WITH that woman in the sweet shop? You never knew who to trust, who was lying, who had ulterior motives and whilst a lot of that was pieced together, there are still enough unanswered questions to make reading book 2 an enticing prospect. The gothic element was wonderfully captured through the mansion and the creepy, creepy dead stuff, but more than that through the atmosphere. Through the sense of foreboding that lingered at every turn and through  the symbolism and spookiness captured in the writing style. Being a gothic mystery it was quite slow-burning, but I didn't have an issue with the pacing at all. I still found it exciting and gripping, I was still itching to get home and read more (because I got an eARC so I had to read it on my computer only and couldn't take it to work, sob). I think the pacing actually added to the whole atmosphere of the story. 

You wouldn't have thought you could have a funny gothic mystery....but you really can. SRB brought her trademark wit to Unspoken, giving it some genuine laugh-out-loud moments that often broke the tension nicely. I don't often do this, but I'm going to include a quote, because I don't think I can accurately portray just how hilarious this book is without one:

‘ Kami wound her arm back, took careful aim, and threw.
The “pebble” crashed through both glass and curtain.
There was the creak of an old sash window being thrust open, and Jared’s head and shoulders appeared at the window. “Hark,” he said, his tone very dry. “What stone through yonder window breaks?”
Kami yelled up at him, “It is the east, and Juliet is a jerk!”
Jared abandoned Shakespeare, and demanded, “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Throwing a pebble,” said Kami defensively. “Uh . . . and I’ll pay for the window.”
Jared vanished and Kami was ready to start shouting again when he reemerged with the pebble clenched in his fist. “This isn’t a pebble! This is a rock.”
“It’s possible that your behavior has inspired some negative feelings that caused me to pick a slightly overlarge pebble,” Kami admitted. ‘

The end....I really can't write a review without mentioning it. Oh it was so perfect. I bet everrrryone hated it but it was the sort of ending I adore. It was so tragic, so fitting. I can't wait to see what happens in the second book off the back of it.

So why is this not 5/5 I hear you ask, seeing as I loved it so? Well, it is really. There were just a few, totally personal niggles I had that reflect more on me than the book. Firstly, the writing felt a little off every now and again, and was quite Americanised in parts for a book based in the UK with mainly British characters, BUT I was reading a really early proof copy (and the US edition), so I'll be interested to see if that changes when I read my finished copy. Secondly, I figured out the vast majority of the plot before it happened.  I am that annoying person that tries to figure out plots. I don't know why, I'm always disappointed when I'm right. But I'm also always disappointed when I'm wrong. I'm just awkward that way. And I was always so floored by everything that happened in The Demon's Lexicon trilogy that I expected A LOT from this book which, again, my own fault. What's that quote about expectation? So that is why it gets a 4, but really, it's worthy of a 5.

Unspoken is an atmospheric, clevery crafted gothic masterpeice. If I could buy you all a copy, I would.

But you will just have to settle with a giveaway for one! Because I loved it so much (and because I've been AWOL for so long) I'm gonna give one awaaaaay. Just fill in the widget-y thing below, it's open internationally!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Oh my. This book is absolutely fabulous! I just fell inlove with it from the first chapter. Sarah Rees Brennan is one of my fav authors. :)

    -Len of Musings of a Reader Happy

  2. Welcome back! And what a way to do it, with a giveaway and a great review of what sounds like an amazing book. I want to read this one!

  3. Sounds like such a great book. I feel the same way as you when it comes to trying to figure out the plot. I hate when I do, but I applaud the author when they come up to some totally unexpected ending that makes sense but no one would have seen it coming.

    Anyway, I'm glad you like Unspoken and now I'm really excited to get to that great ending. :)

  4. Hi Cait! GREAT GREAT review. It's obvious that you're passionate about SRB and her writing, which makes me MORE excited to read UNSPOKEN. I'm ashamed I haven't read my ARC yet! I'm looking forward to meeting these characters, falling for a few, and laughing a lot. I LOVE Gothic stuff, btw.

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  5. You said the bit about Jared and Kami SO well. About how she wants to know what it's like to not have him in her and if her emotions would change. I really wish I had written about that bit in my review, but I wrote it a couple days later so I kinda sucked at thinking of everything. But part of the whole back and forth of them loving and hating each other could be because of that whole thing but yet I still was frustrated (in a bad way) how Kami refused to acknowledge her feelings. But any of my complaints are pretty minor because I LOVED the characters so much and Kami and Jared knowing each other better than ANYONE since they were in the others head forever was great. I loved that they had that extra connection. This was a book that was hard for me to sort out just because what I loved, I LOVED SO MUCH. So when things did bother me I just wanted them to go away because this book had potential to be absolutely perfect. Oh well. It's an amazing book anyway.
    And I have to agree that it felt Americanized. I didn't think of it too much but I've read like three books that take place in England since then and they all have a much more British feel. Oh well though, not a biggie.

  6. Oh and I agree, it's the perfect mix of funny and gothic. It worked SO well!

  7. Hey! I'm Kim over at The Ya Book Geek, just letting you know that I've nominated you for the One Lovely Blogger Award. For more information feel free to check out my post Good luck!

    - Kim

  8. I WANT it badly - is that enough :D

  9. I'm reading it now and love it.

  10. I really love Sarah Rees Brennan's novels.

  11. I have not but it sounds so good.

  12. Yay! I want to read this so much, so thank you SO much for the giveaway! :D
    Great review, I am glad you enjoyed it. :) x


    I started this one tonight because of all your tweets about it. And fifty pages later, can I say I am adoring it? I haven't read any of SRB's novels, but if I end up loving this one, I may have to pick up her Demon trilogy all because of YOUR tweets about (seriously, you are killing my tbr pile, girl. stop it!)

    seriously. :P

    1. HAHA YAY! SRB is seriously one of my fave authors ever, EVERYONE needs to read her books!! I'm going to harrass you on Twitter now to see if you've finished ;)

  14. This sounds really fun. Hope it's ok to include it in my book giveaway round up post?

  15. I've not read this book but I'm a massive Sarah Rees Brennan fan. The Demon's Lexicon trilogy was awesome...Nick and Alan aaaaah :-D

    1. I decided to order this book after reading and thinking more on your review :-D I had an email saying it's dispatched. I can't wait to read it now!!! :-D

  16. I'm scared of the ending now :P. Hehe. Kami sounds awesome, Jared sounds awesome, Kami&Jared sound awesome! Can't wait to read this book. Though I know what you mean about being disappointed when you're right, but also being disappointed when you're wrong :P. Great review! :)

  17. I cant waitto read this the story sounds great and I love the idea of her imaginary friend becoming a real boy.Thank you for this chance to win.Have a great week

  18. I've not read the book yet so I desperately want it. This will probably be my first SRB book and I was hooked the moment I read the summary. Also tried the chapter sampler and I love the writing!

  19. I've not read the book yet so I desperately want it. This will probably be my first SRB book and I was hooked the moment I read the summary. Also tried the chapter sampler and I love the writing!

  20. I want, I want, I want!! Heard loads of good things about this book! Can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

  21. I want I want I want!! Heard so many good things about this book! Can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

  22. Hi Cait! I've heard so much praise for this book and it's been on my wish list for months. I love Gothic and SRB has a wicked sense of humor (love her TV parody tweets!) so I know I will love Unspoken. Thanks for the great review and giveaway!;)

  23. Oh, Americanisms with British settings and cultures. How I hate thee. Unless the plot's amazing, which it seems it might be. I really should read this soon. Thanks for the review!

  24. Great review, and the excerpt is a win. Thanks for sharing!


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