Review: “Unspoken” by Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: “Unspoken”

Author: Sarah Rees Brennan

Genre: YA, Gothic, PNR, AWESOME

Publication Date: September 11, 2012 (Random House Children’s – North America)

Source:  NetGalley Review Copy/ARC

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?

☆: 4.5/5 stars – absolutely fantastic – MORE. NOW. PLEASE.

Review: Ladies and gents, the gothic genre is back, thanks to “Unspoken”. This is one awesome book. With lots of humor and a luminously dark underbelly, this story really absorbed me as so many traditional Gothic genre books have not. If you’ve got to pick a YA book that helps revive new life into an old genre this year, make it “Unspoken”.

I admit, I’m extremely picky when it comes to the gothic genre. I’m not a Bronte or Austen fan, but I love Dickenson (if she can be considered Gothic) and Poe. Brennan has written wonderful things before, so when I heard she was writing a gothic genre book, I got excited, and wary. Excited, because she hasn’t let me down yet, and wary because of the aforementioned pickiness I have when it comes to the genre. But I shouldn’t have worried – Brennan really did this genre a solid with making her heroine in Kami Glass – fierce, fresh, and funny and a breath of fresh air into the traditional dreary heroine we’ve come to expect of the genre.

The world was really well built – with Sorry-in-the-Vale acting as an abbreviation for a title for a village you absolutely wouldn’t expect, as well as having the characters (all of them) weave back into the world absolutely seamlessly. It’s hard to imagine this book in its early stages because everything just flowed so well – it’s hard to think of it as anything as the product we see as a finished copy. Even as an ARC, I was surprised at how well everything was put together.

The characters: aside from Kami, the other characters are equally as well-rounded and are very full, very real. Even the Lynburns, with their ghoulish legacy, have a very extensive back story but at the same time, it isn’t overly dominating of the entire story and world. Is the story largely about them? Yes. But at the same time, a lot of this is Kami’s story, and also, Kami and Jared’s story as two people with an unusual and intimate relationship. It’s about one girl trying to investigate a secret no one’s willing to talk about, confronting the fear of a community while struggling to fight against her own. It’s also a story about power, and all of the characters reflect all of these smaller stories within the larger tale in a fantastic way.

Brennan did a great job with sensory language and imagery – I felt like I was really there, and I’ve never been even remotely near the UK before. The imagery was nothing short of gorgeous and haunting, and I seriously can’t wait for the next book if just to get back to the fictious backdrop of Sorry-in-the-Vale alone. The red and gold theme stayed with me long after I finished the book, and even now, I can’t help but think about how thoroughly Brennan wove that color theme into pretty much everywhere within the story.

Final verdict? This book is equal parts spooky, dreary, and funny – absolutely awesome in all aspects. Definitely meriting a place on my best of 2012 so far list, “Unspoken” is out now from Random House Children’s in North America. Be sure to check it out!


2 thoughts on “Review: “Unspoken” by Sarah Rees Brennan

  1. Pingback: usagi’s challenges for 2012! | birth of a new witch.

  2. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves: Week 19 | birth of a new witch.

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