Release Date: 13th September 2012 (UK)
Publisher: Simon&Schuster (UK)
Reason for reading: SRB is an all-time fave author and insanely funny!
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?
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. ‘
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!
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