Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Genre: Gothic, YA Paranormal
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Source: ARC I found in a used bookstore
Synopsis: Free from bonds, but not each other
It’s time to choose sides… On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and power. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways.
But Rob and his followers aren’t the only sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be?
2.5/5 stars – Occasionally shines like a gem, but it’s often dulled by forced humor
Well now, this is odd. Unspoken was a five-star read back when I originally read it, but looking back, the enthusiasm of my review seems foreign. I remember writing every last word and know why I felt that way, but my opinion of the book has changed drastically since then. This is a rare occurrence and it’s never a good sign, but I still went into the second book of Brennan’s trilogy hoping for the best. Did I get it? Well… Untold is a little like cat fur because it’s all over the place, though the book is easier to get out of surfaces nine times out of ten.
As over-the-top and transient as my enthusiasm was, it wasn’t entirely unfounded then and still isn’t now. The story itself is entertaining, has makeout scenes that will appease fans who have been waiting a long time for them, and there are some genuinely funny moments in these pages. The passage in which Ash nonchalantly explains a pretty horrifying ceremony to Kami because he doesn’t know any better is beautiful and produced one of the only genuine laughs the novel earned from me.
This is the sixth novel I’ve read of Brennan’s (the others were her Demon’s Lexicon books, Team Human, and Unspoken) and multiple short stories from her too, but this is the first time where the humor feels forced and real laughs are few and far between. This is something some of my friends have complained about in regards to her other works, so this may just be the first time I personally noticed it. Some lines are supposed to be funny, but they simply aren’t. Others treat the readers like children by telling us things we can easily figure out on our own. One of the most noteworthy examples of the unfunny “funny” lines is this one:
“Kami picked up a pen from the desk and put it in her pocket, because she was now a kleptomaniac for great justice (ARC p. 153).”
Had all the forced humor been cut out, this would have been a stronger, more streamlined novel; the apparent need to have humor in a scene even when it’s not actually funny and doesn’t need to be there kills more than a few scenes or otherwise good passages. Sure, it won’t speed up the pacing of a book that’s mostly made up of character drama and planning because Untold hits second-book syndrome hard, but it would make the novel a little less of a chore to read, along with fixing how the novel tends to talk down to us readers are if we’re children.
The characters, rather than being talked about on a scale to most well-developed to least, are more easily classified on a scale of most annoying to least annoying because to one degree or another, they’re all kind of annoying. Holly and Ash have the least irritating points of view, least ridiculous lines, and best conflicts, so they come off as the real stars of the book. The twist concerning Holly is a great one, but it loses all its oomph because it has no importance whatsoever. There’s literally nothing that changes as a result of her revelation. What was the use?!
Angela and her trendy outlook of hating the world because it’s how she is and how she responds to life remains the most annoying cast member. Kami and Jared, who are the actual stars of this book, lean toward being more annoying than not because they’re the ones that give us ridiculous lines when the third-person narrator isn’t able to throw them at us like we’re the bad performers they’re booing off the stage.
Me staying around for the third book of the series looks unlikely, but who knows what will happen? At the very least, it’s not one to wait on with bated breath the way I wrongly did with Untold. Fans who loved the first book and haven’t seen their enthusiasm diminish are sure to love this solid second installment, but those who are like me will find an entirely different story.