Thursday, November 29, 2012
In the English town Sorry-in-the-Vale, Kami Glass has heard a boy's voice in her head her entire life. His name is Jared and they share everything with each other. Having silent conversations all the time does not do wonders for the social life, so Kami is largely considered strange and someone to be avoided except for to her best friend Angela, a beautiful misanthrope. Together (more reluctantly on Angela's part, they create a school paper. While setting everything up, a newcomer named Ash Lynburn offers to join the paper. He and his family are famous historically and have come back after years and years of living in America, much to the chagrin of much of Sorry-in-the-Vale's citizens. Two strange things have happened since the Lynburns have returned: animals have been brutally murdered in the woods near Kami's house and Ash's cousin Jared seems very similar to the Jared who speaks to her in her head. Kami vows to use her intrepid reporter skills to solve these two mysteries, but she has no idea how it will change her life and the very town she lives in.
Sarah Rees Brennan is one of my favorite authors due to her great writing, boisterous personality, and general hilarity. Unspoken is one of the best books I've read in a while. The characters are all fully realized and diverse. Kami is a fun and interesting character. She isn't a shrinking violet or incredibly passive like so many romantic YA novels. Intelligent and insatiably curious, Kami investigates the animal murders and tries to learn as much as she can about her connection with Jared. Jared isn't the typical bad boy. Sure, he gets in trouble and has issues, but he never treats Kami badly or does anything truly horrific. Even the love triangle here isn't terrible. I have grown to truly hate them since it seems to be a lazy authors way to make the girl desirable and interesting AND one of the male characters is completely ruined to make the choice between the two clear. Ash and Jared are very different and have their own appeal, but the book is really about Kami and Jared and how they can cope with having any sort of real relationship. The minor characters are all interesting and add their own varied personalities to the story. My favorites are Kami's best friend Angela and her self defense enthusiast brother.
I love the concept of the story with two people that can communicate and hear what they other is thinking at all times. When these two people meet, things get weird. They know just about everything about each other: their petty, horrible thoughts, secret desires, and a multitude of other things they would never want anyone else to know. They also can't sand to physically be around each other. Any other author would have the two characters instantly fall into a romantic relationship where they are soul mates that are meant to be together and everything is perfect. (I would hate the crap out of that book because it's a carbon copy of all other paranormal romances out there.) Brennan takes a completely different route and shows how many problems would realistically arise in a situation like this. No one wants a significant other that can read their every thought. We all have horrible, hurtful thoughts we don't really mean and thoughts just not meant for public consumption. This situation would be disastrous for any sort of relationship. Kami and Jared have no idea if their feelings are real since they can feel everything the other feels. They also have no capacity at all for what it's like to be truly alone and independent. This relationship is problematic at best and they don't really know what they are to each other when face to face. I love that Brennan doesn't take the easy way out and explores the problems and facets of this unique relationship.
Unspoken is an amazing novel that I had to finish. The twists and turns in the story are considerable and surprised me. Brennan's writing is just delightful and I can't get enough of her quick witted humor. The love triangle and the bond between Jared and Kami could have been really badly handled, but she subverts my expectations and makes them new and interesting.The ending ripped my heart out a little, but it was necessary. I don't know why everyone is calling it a cliff hanger. It's really not, but it does make you want to know what happens in the next book, which I will definitely be reading. Highly recommended for fantasy fans not afraid of some humor.
My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins