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Review: Unspoken

October 4, 2012

Title: Unspoken (Lynburn Legacy #1)
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Format: ePub from NetGalley

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?—from Goodreads

Alright, so, let’s just get this out of the way: Sarah Rees Brennan is a fantastic writer. I didn’t love this book.

In theory, it’s right up my alley: Set in the U.K., main character is a strong, determined girl detective who aspires to be an investigative journalist, supernatural murdery-type things going down, a town mystery, and two telekinetically connected teenagers. This seems like ALL OF THE THINGS, right?

Yet, somehow, this didn’t work for me.

The main character, Kami, is a cross between Harriet the Spy and Veronica Mars, but without Veronica’s ballsy, sardonic sass. Because Kami leans a little more toward the Harriet the Spy territory, she comes off as precocious and I found her to be highly annoying.

And then there’s the Lynburgs, the mysterious family that essentially rules the town, but has been absent since before Kami was born. And when the Lynburgs arrive back in town, they have two teenage boys, Jared and Ash, with them. Sounds promising, right?

I disliked them both.

I found neither of these boys swoon-worthy and was not feeling them at all. I completely understood the relationships between Kami and both of the boys—particularly Jared—but I wasn’t rooting for any of them to be together in a romantic way. In fact, I was more rooting for Kami and her best friend’s older brother, which wasn’t even really a possibility that was set up by the book.  Okay, maybe it was a remote possibility. BUT STILL.

However, the characters I did like were Kami’s two female friends, Angela, the misanthrope, and Holly, the plucky, charming sex-pot who might know more about the town mystery than she’s letting on. For me, these two were the saving graces of the book and I found myself far more interested in what was happening on their sides of the story than I was in Kami’s.

Additionally, I really loved Kami’s relationship with her family and deeply enjoyed the scenes in which she interacted with her younger brothers. As a person who never really knows how to act around kids, I found some inspiration in Kami and her witty antagonizing.

Despite the fact that this book didn’t really jive with me, it cannot be denied that Sarah Rees Brennan is a wonderful writer, who is very in command of her storytelling. When you break it down, the book is solid. The pacing, the scene-setting, the character development, all of the tools that you want a writer to have through and through are present here.

I just didn’t connect with the main characters and that made this book fall a little bit flat for me.

However, if you’re looking for a gorgeously written book that is set in modern day U.K., but feels otherworldly and has a supernatural component, then Unspoken is definitely a book to check out.

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