Book Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

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Recommended by Kerry Winfrey of Hellogiggles

Kami Glass is a young half-Japanese student from a small English town called Sorry-in-the-Vale. She spends her time hanging out with her friend Angela who makes it her mission in life to find the World’s Best Napping Spot, and together, they run the school newspaper. Kami’s also got a best friend named Jared who really gets her. The only issue is that he is imaginary. He’s just a voice in her head whom she talked to since she was very young. Or so she thought. Kami can be said to be the Veronica Mars of England, so when the town’s founding family, the Lynburns, move back to their creepy mansion on the edge of town, she has no other choice but to figure out what’s going on with them. Why did they disappear in the first place and why does the whole town, including her own parents, seem to be scared of them? At first, nobody would tell her anything. But then, she meets one of the Lynburns in an elevator. He is tall, dark, and very handsome. There’s only one problem though – his name is Jared. Like you might expect, he is the Jared from her head (interesting band name?) A dream come true, right? Your imaginary friend who knows you better than anyone is actually a real walking and talking person. However, when this person is a member of the town’s most hated family who may or may not be trying to kill Kami and her friends, things get a little complicated. Kami’s penchant for detective work coupled with the connection to Jared may, on the one hand, be the key to uncovering the town’s dark secrets that are culminating in the form of horrific animal sacrifices and attempts on her friends’ lives. On the other hand, however, their connection may actually do more harm than good and destroy them both in the process…

At a first glance, this is your standard paranormal romance, which I am not normally too fond of. However, thanks to Brennan’s hilarious and brilliant characters, “Unspoken” is a wonderful work. First and foremost, it’s really funny. The technique of one-liners may have been employed a little too often, but it made me laugh really hard! To give you an example from a conversation between Kami and Angela:

“Your sould is like the souls of a thousand monkeys on crack, all smushed together. But enough about you. Show me to my napping sofa”

That’s another thing I loved about “Unspoken” – the friendships between Kami, Angela and their new friend Holly. The supporting characters were written just as well as Kami was and they didn’t conform to any stereotypes. Angela and Holly are, according to Kami, the most beautiful and popular girls in school, while Kami is more of an outsider, but neither of the three considers herself better than anybody else and has no problem trashing stereotypes about “popular girls” and “manic pixie dream girls who are not like other girls because they like to read and write”. This is why books like “Unspoken” are so important – girls today are under just as many pressures to fit in as ever, and not conforming to a certain “type” is not easy. Having someone to look up to, whether they are real or fictional, is one of the integral parts of growing up. The fact that the characters of the book are diverse just makes it better.

Re: “romance” part of the book – I have said before that love triangles and romances are not my favourite aspects of literature. However, Brennan handles the potential love triangle between Kami, Jared and his cousin Ash really well. The thing between Kami and Jared is very complicated and neither of them can be argued to have the ability to handle it. At that point in the book, I was waiting for some kind of a “I don’t care I love you we’ll get through this even though it’s emotionally unhealthy” monologue. You can imagine my relief when that didn’t happen. This is another reason why I really like Kami – she understands that glamourised unhealthy relationships are just that – unhealthy – and she wants no part of it. That, of course, did not take away the pleasure of reading about some very thick sexual tension between the imaginary friends! The one romance I am eager to read more about is Holly and Angela’s. I think that they work really well together! My rating of “Unspoken” is 7.5/10 and I can’t wait to purchase the next book in the series!

Favourite character:

I have enjoyed reading about them all (except maybe Jared because he got on my nerves on a couple of occasions), but Kami has to be a favourite of mine. I love ladies like Veronica Mars and Nancy Drew and Kami is an honorary member of their club of Lady Sleuths. I would actually love to see a Supernatural-type TV series with Kami, Angela, Holly and the Lynburn boys running around and solving paranormal crimes. (What do you mean “Buffy” already exists?!)

Character who gets the most development:

Again, Kami takes this spot. She has come very far from a girl who sometimes stared into space talking to herself and being afraid of fitting in. That girl was replaced by a young woman struggling with the concept of her imaginary friend coming to life and being deprived of her emotional privacy, who then grew into a person who… Well, read for yourself!

Favourite relationship:

Kami, Angela and Holly are the ladies who are coming to take a nap and kick the asses of magicians in your small town. And they are almost done with their naps.

Favourite quotes:

“You are a criminal. You broke my laws, in my town, and I am going to execute you. Step away from my sister“. Seriously, does that remind anyone of a certain Spaniard in a certain most romantic movie of all time?!

“Guys may disappoint, but she knew journalism would never let her down”

Dreamcast:

Kami Glass – Jamie Chung

Angela Montgomery – Janel Parrish

Holly Prescott – Jennifer Lawrence

Jared Lynburn – Jason Dohring (circa Veronica Mars)

Recommendations:

You would like “Unspoken” if you liked:

“Veronica Mars”

“Graceling” by Kristin Cashore

“Half Bad” by Sally Green

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