SOURCE: loan from K
SUMMARY: 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?
REVIEW: This book has multiple elements that are always appealing to me: set in England; spunky best friend; mysterious, dark strangers new to town; dry humor. And then Sarah Rees Brennan RESERVES HER SEAT on my #fantasyfriends couch by throwing in the fantasy element that I wasn’t expecting. (Stay tuned for a post about #fantasyfriends coming soon.)
When I began reading Unspoken, I was prepared for good because K had grudgingly lent me the book and made me do the Secret Handshake, promise my firstborn child to slavery, etc, etc if anything happened to her copy of the book. In the beginning of the story, I was feeling a bit of Angus, Thongs meets Saving Francesca with a a dash of The Year of Secret Assignments thrown in. The story has the English-prep-school flair that I am so drawn to while keeping the story approachable for readers of all backgrounds.
I’m not sure why I wasn’t prepared for the fantasy elements given the telepathy premise but I did not see it going there. I have read other stories in which characters heard voices or could communicate telepathically with others and because the story is set in contemporary times and locations, I was taken by surprise when the telepathy was not the only supernatural element included. Brennan weaves in the fantastical elements masterfully. Looking back from the end of the book, it seems obvious but it didn’t seem that way while reading it.
Brennan also develops multiple characters in a fluid manner that seems organic. Kami is already a strong heroine whose self-doubt is believable and is a constant obstacle to resolving the conflict. Jared is the typical Byronic hero: broody, broken, and bull-headed. Holly and Angela are excellent constants in the changing landscape of the characters’ interactions. The Lynburns are a perfect balance of haughty and creepy completing a perfectly crafted Gothic romance set it modern-day England. And while the town’s name of Sorry-in-the-Vale is just a little too tragic for my taste, it is the only sour note in the otherwise perfectly crafted first in this series.
And as a final note, a brief discussion of why Sarah Rees Brennan is joining the ranks of YABB’s Badass Authors. A) She responds to tweets. This is a requirement. B) She writes a hella good story. This, too, is a requirement. In this case, she wrote an impressive first installment to a series, ending in the middle of action, leaving me cursing her (albeit in a friendly way) for making me wait for the next book. C) She put a new twist on an old template, (hopefully)breathing some interest into a dusty genre. Welcome, SRB. Welcome.