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Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken (2012)

by Sarah Rees Brennan

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5828016,969 (4.02)16
  1. 10
    Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia (dizzyweasel)
    dizzyweasel: A more complex novel about magic and the mysterious family that rules a sleepy town.

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For more reviews, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.

Meg (Cuddlebuggery) and Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) have been after me to read Unspoken for months now. I just wasn’t sure though. I mean, I trust them, but for some reason I was highly skeptical of this book. However, I decided to go ahead and read it during my vacation, because why not? Plus, I had the ancient ARC on my shelves from back when it first came out and better late than never, right? Thankfully, Unspoken wasn’t what I expected at all. Unfortunately, I don’t have book two with me and I can’t find out what happens next for at least two weeks and probably more. Curses.

Paranormal romance novels, more than some other genres, seem to follow a particular formula really strongly and that, I think, was what I expected. Sarah Rees Brennan is clearly well-acquainted with that formula, but she’s playing with it rather than repeating it by rote. For example, on the surface, there’s a love triangle with the good guy and the bad boy, but it’s not really that cut and dried when you get into it. The relationship dynamics aren’t simple and there’s no instalove anywhere.

Then there’s Kami, who I have to describe as plucky, determined and reckless. Kami’s highly intelligent and driven. She wants to be an investigative journalist and is starting the school paper. There’s no mystery she doesn’t want to research and solve. As such, she’s highly curious about the Lynburns, who have returned to Sorry-on-the-Vale after many years away. No one will tell her anything, though, so she’s going to have to interrogate the Lynburn boys, Ash and Jared, both incredibly hot. Poor girl. In pursuit of truth, however, Kami can be really reckless. She considers danger worth the price of a good story and sometimes I’m like gurrrrrrl.

Still, I think Kami’s great. She’s very much herself, even when she’s making some terrible decisions. In fact, the cast is pretty great all around, though I’m not a hundred percent certain how I feel yet about Ash or Jared. I have a feeling that will come. From that, you can probably surmise that I’m not completely set on a ship for Kami yet, and you would be right. Obviously I know what the ship will be and I think it’s probably the right ship, but my heart has yet to fully buy into it.

On the other hand, I do love Kami’s connection to Jared, who heretofore was her imaginary friend. Suddenly he’s there in the flesh. This is where I mean the book is much more complex than anticipated. I think this would be used by most authors as a way to jumpstart a really cheesy romantic love. Not so Sarah Rees Brennan. Actually, both Kami and Jared are a little bit disappointed to learn that their imaginary friends are real. It complicates things, because it’s a lot easier to trust in someone who cannot tell your secrets. Sorting out what they are to one another isn’t a simple task

My favorite character by far is Angela, Kami’s best friend. Again, she seems like a cliché for about three seconds until you get to know her. I mean, she is the most beautiful girl in town, a fact which Kami does envy a bit. However, Angela’s not the typical best friend stereotype by a long shot. She’s lazy and violent, in that order. Angela hates people and is my spirit animal. She spends as much of her time napping as possible. When roused however, she will kick whatever asses need it most. Also, my ship for her didn’t seem like it would come true and then it DID, so YAY.

The plot itself was, at times, a bit predictable or meandering. It wasn’t my favorite element of the book. The reveal of who the evil doers were wasn’t the shock that it could have been. However, the ending itself was surprisingly dark and I think the scariness could be ratcheted up in later installments. Brennan does seem like she might be willing to do some truly nasty things to her characters, which excites me, for I am a cruel reader. That ending gives me much hope for what is to come, even if I think it’s a paranormal trope. Whatever, I must know.

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan has all of the banter. It’s a case study on banter. At times it’s pretty close to laugh out loud funny. That alone will keep me coming back for more. Expect to immediately need book two when you finish this one. I feel such pain not having it. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Nov 3, 2014 |
This book is completely delightful!

Kami Glass wants to be an award-winning journalist someday, and in order to make this happen, decides to start a school newspaper. She can't do it alone, and so bribes her best friend, the world's laziest beautiful teenager, Angela, to help her. He first self-assigned assignment? Find out everything she can about the Lynburn family, the distant and newly returned manor-house-owning practically royalty of Sorry-in-the-Vale.

Oh, and Kami also plans to find out who is killing animals in the woods. But maybe they're connected?

Kami is one of the most entertaining main characters in a book ever. She's funny and clever and charmingly loyal (and her interactions with her dad and brothers shows exactly where her funny comes from). Quips abound in this story, and while there are a couple of moments when the writing didn't quite explain moments and seemed to skip important information, the characters and dialogue completely make up for it.

Highly recommended, and I've already almost finished the second book... ( )
  kayceel | Oct 5, 2014 |
Charismatic and funny characters with a mixed race, part Japanese protagonist, made this an engaging and joyful read. I loved the show-stoppingly beautiful Angela's lazy, sleepaholic and anti-social character. Kami's self-respect, self-awareness, common sense and individuality were appreciated. Brennan was obviously determined to set her heroine apart from the clueless, unhealthy role models from other books.

The love triangle didn't bother me until the end because it was weighted in Jared's favour so there wasn't much angst. Jared's apparent but unexplained dislike of touching Kami was distinctly unusual, because what teenage boy doesn't want to touch a girl (or another boy)? This led to a distancing of the two characters which was a bit angsty.

I'm not happy with the way things ended (although it was a healthy decision Kami made) because it's not just a normal cliffhanger, it completely opened the door to unoriginal love triangle angst characteristic of many other YA novels. This does Unspoken a disservice because the rest of the book was highly enjoyable.

The mystery is a little thin on the ground but as the focus was on establishing the personalities of the characters I didn't mind so much since the culprit(s) wasn't obvious and events weren't predictable.

The mention of a political science class confused me since we don't study that in the UK (or at least that's not what we call it) and Unspoken is set here. I'm also aware there were some Britishisms others may not understand though I don't think it's prohibitive to enjoyment.

I'll most likely wait for reviews for the sequel from those I trust before I decide to invest in something I could quite easily hate. ( )
  Cynical_Ames | Sep 23, 2014 |
**Spoilers clearly marked.**

2.5ish stars

This book. This fucking book with all of its wasted potential. There are ways this book sets itself apart from the typical YA and that is supremely refreshing, but it comes with its own failings that make it ultimately fall apart. I can see why some people blindly love it, as almost the entire first half is funny, interesting, full of suspense, and quirky. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing is just that - too much.

I thought our MC Kami was awesome - most of the time. She had a backbone, which was satisfying, and she put it to good use by standing up for herself. She wouldn't bow down to anyone or tuck tail. I really liked that about her, especially in comparison with typical YA heroines. Additionally, she was funny, quirky, nerdy, energetic, and lovable - all good things. Unfortunately, in time, it became apparent that the author was trying waaay too hard to make Kami awesome and that's just not awesome. One needs to learn when to leave good enough alone.

Come the second half of the book, Kami was too funny, to the point of tossing out really corny and inappropriately placed one-liners. (Side note: her dad did this a LOT. He was super corny just as often as he was funny.) What, for the first half, was extremely entertaining, became a desperation to be funny all of the time. No. Too much of a good thing.

Another weirdness: Kami was obsessive about her friends' appearances - just the girls. One is constantly bashed over the head with how utterly beautiful her 2 female friends are and how desirable they are to guys. I mean, she mentions this non-stop from start to finish. Practically every reference to either of her two girlfriends is prefaced with a comment about their beauty or desirability. She doesn't "hate" on them, but it was weird and excessive.

Really weird and really excessive. O_o

Moving on - Kami's "in-person" relationship with her mystery boy was intense and poignant - for like 5 minutes. After that it was contrived, drawn-out, and tedious. I understand where the author was coming from and what she was trying to portray, but I understood that early on, because I'm not stupid. It doesn't need to be drilled into my head for an entire novel. We get it.

The no-touching and the touching with the sparks and the feelings and the woe. Blah and blah.

- We stood side-by-side - not touching.
- We walked along the path together - not touching.
- We made eyeball love - not touching.

*Cue eyeroll.

Yah, these are not actual quotes (because I'm too lazy to search), but seriously - we fucking get it. No fucking touching. No need to point out every time they don't touch. Point out when they do ffs.

The behavior of all the characters was strange. Cryptic comments that made no sense, said just to create the illusion of suspense and to cast suspicion on yet another suspect. It appeared as if everyone knew secrets about the town except Kami. That didn't make much sense, because some of these people were Kami's age and had lived there just as long as she had. It was overdone, is all. Said at the right time, a cryptic comment can work, but numerous cryptic comments from numerous people tossed in willy-nilly? Tone it down a notch. The "suspense" is killing me. **Yawn. -_-

Let's not talk about the "unstoppable", yet lackluster villain. Instead, can anyone explain the inordinate amount of time it took for Jared & Co. to get to Kami at the end?
That was ridiculous. Just more contrivance to create the illusion of suspense. *Cue eyeroll. Again.

Lastly, how many times can you have your characters deep in conversation and about to find out really important information, only to have them interrupted or distracted? Of course, the characters respond to this "logically" and never follow up on it ever again. The really annoying thing is that they would think about it at later times. "I wonder what so & so was going to tell me, before we were interrupted.." You saw them numerous times throughout the rest of the book. Why didn't you just fucking ask so & so? Way to investigate and detect. *Eyeroll cued.

It would be easy to ignore the problems with this book and embrace it as so many others have, because there are certainly aspects of it that are desperately needed in the flailing YA genre, but I'd be remiss. A quirky heroine and a bit of humor aren't enough to carry any story.

Wasted potential, this fucking book.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog:

( )
  JennyJen | Aug 14, 2014 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: A deeply, imaginative gothic fantasy with hilariously snarky characters.

Opening Sentence: Every town in England has a story.

The Review:

I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up, Unspoken, the first book in the Lynburn trilogy. I was hooked right away by Kami Glass’ snarky and brutal humor. She has no problem letting people know what she thinks and she equally has no problem throwing herself into potentially dangerous situations.

Kami Glass is strangely inquisitive and wants to know all the secrets of her little England town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. She really wants to learn about the mysterious Lynburn family that has “protected” the town for hundreds of years. Coincidentally, the Lynburns have just returned back to town after many years away. Kami starts up a newspaper in her school and her first big breaking story will be to tell the Lynburn’s secrets. But Kami is hiding a huge secret of her own. She has an imaginary friend. She has been speaking to Jared her whole life and little does she know that she will soon find out that Jared isn’t so imaginary.

Kami doesn’t have to wait long before she starts to get the answers she seeks, both of the teenaged Lynburn cousins enroll in her school. Ash is the cute and charming Lynburn, he soon has Kami gushing over him and recruiting him to work on the newspaper. Jared (yes that Jared!) is not a good looking as his cousin Ash. He has a scar cutting across the side of his face. He is (of course) the bad boy and always getting into fights.

Sorry-the-the-Vale holds some really dark secrets and when Kami finds a mutilated fox in the woods she wants to discover the culprit. Not long afterwards, she is knocked down a well and almost drowns. Jared comes to her rescue and quickly decides that he will keep an eye on her in case someone is out to kill her.

Unspoken is the gothic tale of Kami who has always kind of been an outsider in her town. Kami’s Asian ancestry also has her not quite fitting in in her little England town. She really tries to not let that get her down so she is very snarky and often says what she thinks because she doesn’t care what other people think of her. Sometimes Kami gets a little too overboard with her snarkiness but I still enjoyed it. Kami’s best friend Angela had me chuckling a lot especially with her disdain for other people and her complete love of laziness and sleeping.

When Kami and Jared learn that they are in fact real people and not imaginary, they are both devastated. I really liked Jared but he was a bit frustrating about all the mixed signals that he kept giving Kami. Although Kami didn’t help with that much especially in the beginning but after she made her decision it was really hard to see him keep shying away from her.

I felt like the first half of Unspoken really focused on the fun, snarky Kami and her friends with a little bit of mystery before turning into the full blown mystery with a little bit of snark thrown in. The first half of the book really flew by for me while I felt the second half slowed down a bit. It wasn’t because the story really slowed down, I felt like more and more questions kept getting thrown onto the mystery before anything finally happened. The story did get much darker and this novel doesn’t have a happy ending, but that is why it is part of a trilogy, right? I am really happy that I have the next book in the series ready to pick up.

Notable Scene:

His hand shot out and slammed down on a button. The doors closed and he slammed another hand on the lift wall, close to her head. The clang reverberated in her ears. He was standing next to her suddenly, much too close, bowed down so she was looking directly into those cold eyes. “Kami.”

Kami wasn’t shaking. The world was shaking her, the world was shaking apart and about to fall to pieces. Nothing made sense anymore. “Jared?” she whispered. Her voice was changed like everything else, sounding as if it did not belong to her. She lifted a hand, seeing her fingers tremble in the dim lights of the lift, up to touch his face.

Jared grabbed her wrist.

They stood absolutely still for a moment, looking at each other. Kami didn’t dare move. She could feel her pulse pounding against his palm. He was real. He was here, and she was scared.

He let go of her and stepped back.

They were on opposite sides of the lift again, just like before, except now he was watching her. The cold lights had swallowed up his eyes: they were pale and awful, the kind of eyes you might fear watching you in the darkness when you walked home alone. His feelings hit her, not like having someone reaching out but like someone throwing something at her. She had never felt anything like this before in her life. It was like being enveloped by a storm with no calm center, with no calm anywhere to be found. Kami felt blinded by it, by Jared’s fury and panic, and above all his black terror.

The link between them had become an onslaught. Kami could not just tell what Jared was thinking, she could feel it. She could not escape, could not untangle the strands of herself from him. She tried to visualize walls in her head, shields that she could hide behind, feeling both exposed and lost.

“Stop it,” she said, her voice catching.

“You stop it!” he whispered back.

They sounded like terrified children, and strangers who hated each other. Kami could not tell who was the most afraid.

FTC Advisory: Random House Books for Young Readers provided me with a copy of Unspoken. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Jul 22, 2014 |
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"Kami Glass is in love with someone she's never met--a boy she's talked to in her head since she was born. This has made her an outsider in the sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, but she has learned ways to turn that to her advantage. Her life seems to be in order, until disturbing events begin to occur. There has been screaming in the woods and the manor overlooking the town has lit up for the first time in 10 years. The Lynburn family, who ruled the town a generation ago and who all left without warning, have returned. Now Kami can see that the town she has known and loved all her life is hiding a multitude of secrets--and a murderer. The key to it all just might be the boy in her head. The boy she thought was imaginary is real, and definitely and deliciously dangerous"--… (more)

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