Cassie-wa Reviews “Unspoken” by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (Galley)
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy, Dramaz, Hilariousness
Rating: 4.88888 out of 5 stars

Summary: Jared has been Kami’s best friend since they were little. The thing is, she’s never met him. He’s always been a voice in her head, and may or may not be real. This has made Kami something of an oddball in Sorry-in-the-Vale, but she’s okay with that.

When the creepy Lynburn family returns to its famously big and creepy manor after a long absence, it seems like the perfect story to cover in Kami’s newly-founded school newspaper. But with the ensuing ominous whispers, weird animal mutilations, murder, and downright mysterious behavior from just about everybody in town, Kami realizes it’s up to her to uncover Sorry-in-the-Vale’s dark secrets before anyone else gets hurt.

Worst of all, she can’t seem to trust anyone. Not even Jared.

Unspoken, you started out so, so funny, and then you got so, so sad. Why do you do these things to me? Why?

You’ll find more of this intrepid reviewer’s opinion after the jump!

I’m not 100% on board with Unspoken. There’s some weird stuff that is weird to me. There is also some really ridiculously awesome stuff. I have to think about it some more.

But I am 100% on this: Kami is my favorite modern fantasy heroine. Yeah, I said it.

Kami is someone that I would legitimately want to be friends with. She doesn’t get captured (very often). She rarely does things that make me shout “YOU EE-DEE-OT!” or throw the book (or my poor, battered Kindle) across the room. She’s just super bright, curious, irrepressible, and freakin’ hilarious. She has a lot of stuff going on that she could angst about, and a lot of things she could be scared about. But her attitude is basically this: “Whenever I’m angsty or scared, I just stop being angsty or scared and be awesome instead. True story.”

In many fantasy stories, characters are (or seem) sort of painfully ordinary and are then transformed by their circumstances. Kami is immediately extraordinary, and I love it.

I’m also obsessed with her best friend (besides the guy-in-her-head best friend) Angela, who hates people and loves naps. A character who loves naps. My god, what a revelation. Thank you for finally representing the napping-enthusiasts of the world in literature! And of course it’s adorable to see Angela be totally grumpy and long-suffering, but secretly happy to tail behind the ever-motivated Kami.

Sorry-in-the-Vale is a cute little English town where everybody knows everybody and not much happens. Kami is vaguely aware of some local legends re: the Lynburns, but for the most part they are mysteriously mysterious. Then Kami actually meets all of them in person, and they continue to be mysteriously mysterious. Ash, her own age, is totally cute, nice, and charming. He might be a little too normal, actually… The adult Lynburns, Lillian, Rosalind, and Rob, are super creepy, and they don’t mind if you point out that they think they own every blade of grass in the Vale (and maybe the people too). Because they do think that.

And then there’s Jared Lynburn.

Jared. Jared. Jared. So funny. So damaged. SO BAD AT THINGS.

Ahem. Kami and Jared’s relationship is fascinating. They’ve grown up with their thoughts running together and consequently know each other more intimately than it should be possible to know another person. They have each been a constant, comforting presence in the other’s life.

Naturally, when they meet in person, they FREAK OUT. It goes like this:

ACTUALLY hearing each other’s voices: Weird.
SEEING each other: Weirder.
TOUCHING EACH OTHER, FEELING that the other one is real: OMG WEIRD WEIRD WEIRD.

Fairly early on, they decide that it would be super weird if they started dating, so that seems to take care of that. But it’s not so easy to pull your heart away when half of it belongs to someone else. It seems pretty clear the two will get together-together. Personally, I liked it best when they were just engaged in a serious bromance. But I will take pretty much anything besides where we left them at the end of the book. (NO SPOILERS.)

At the beginning of the book, Kami starts a school newspaper, which is instantly popular because so much bizarre stuff is happening, and also possibly because she puts pictures of her hot friends in it. But most importantly it gives her a HEADQUARTERS at school where she can gather up a SCOOBY GANG (Kami, Angela, Ash, Jared, and Holly, whom I haven’t mentioned yet, but who is totally adorable and wonderful). Because really, if you’re a teenager setting out to uncover dark secrets and possibly fight supernatural forces, you need some quirky friends to back you up. Everyone in this group is brilliant. I hope we’re all still friends in the next book!!

I don’t really want to go into the plot because of major spoilerage potential. So I will just say: I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys books where snarky teens wind up in crazy, unlikely, and/or dangerous situations, and have a ton of feels about it. (Maybe that’s generally what happens in YA fantasy books, but Unspoken does it newer and better!)

Some things I thought were weird: Jared’s sudden POV interjections. In retrospect, I’m not sure if we were really jumping to Jared’s point of view, or just seeing it through Kami. I think I would like to read through it again and check out the mechanics of the switching viewpoints. You know when I’m not too busy being all, “OMGOMGOMG WHAT’S HAPPENING??” It’s not really a huge deal. It’s not like, Jacob-suddenly-narrating-Breaking-Dawn awkward, or anything.

Speaking of mechanics, what up with this magic? Are we going to learn how stuff works/why it works the way it does?? I guess I’m used to the protagonist being the one with magical/supernatural abilities, hence they have to learn how to use them. Not really the case with Kami. But still, there’s some really interesting stuff going on that deserves more explaining!!!

So –

THE GOOD:
-Kami is just actually the best
-And so are her friends
-Really, I just love all these characters you guys
-OMGOMGOMG WHAT’S HAPPENING?

THE BAD:
-Who’s brain are we in?
-SERIOUSLY, WHAT IS HAPPENING?

You can probably judge my feelings on this book by the amount of CAPSLOCK and unnecessary extra punctuation. Unspoken is a perfectly executed combination of darkness and shenanigans. And fortunately for you, it comes out TOMORROW, so you should really go on and read it for yourself!!

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5 thoughts on “Cassie-wa Reviews “Unspoken” by Sarah Rees Brennan

  1. I have the same confusion with “Unspoken” that I did with “Asylum of the Daleks”: how do Kami and Jared not recognize each others’ voices!?! Are we just chalking this one up to magic or the fact that our voices sound different in our own head? In which case the second answer would be science? SO MUCH MYSTERY!

    • Yeah, I thought about this a lot too (Unspoken, not the dalek issue, lol). I think one reason could be… you know how your voice sounds completely different to you than it does to other people/in a recording because of the way the sound vibrates or hits your ears or whatever? Presumably your thought-voice would be how you hear your own voice, not how it actually sounds.

      OR, typically Kami and Jared talk to each other fairly endearingly/jokey-jokingly, so when they met in person they were much more guarded, which would have affected how they were speaking.

      OR OR, their “thought” voices aren’t actually audible in any way, it’s just information transmitted to each other that their brains turn into voices because brains always try to make a pattern out of things and stuff and science.

      =)

      • I didn’t even consider option three, OMG. I cannot wrap my head around that one. Too much science. My vote is gonna be for option one because it makes the most sense to me. Even if I think there should have been some slight recognition. Just slight.

  2. Well I also think the idea of meeting each other was just so incredibly unlikely that they would never even suspect it, until it became obvious. And shit went down!!

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