Book Review #16: Unspoken

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“Unspoken” is one of those books I picked up almost exclusively because of friends’ or acquaintances’ recommendations. I don’t know how much buzz the book got in the literary world, but I knew enough people who read and enjoyed it that I gave it a try.

Oh. My. God. There are some books you blow through because you MUST know how they end, and others that you try, desperately, to take your time on so you catch every detail. “Unspoken” was a brilliant mix of these traits.

I loved the premise–a girl who has been talking to an ‘imaginary’ friend her whole life learns he is a real person when the mysterious, frightening family who owns half her small town returns. Even if flap copy hadn’t pulled me in, Kami would’ve instantly. I’ve read a ton of YA this year and I don’t know if I’ve found a more likeable, engaging protagonist than she is yet. I don’t think so. Her personality was so REAL to me that it felt like we could’ve been friends under different circumstances. She was the kind of person whose conviction and heart made me fall in love with characters I might not have ordinarily, and trust characters I would’ve pushed aside.

Which brings me to Jared. Poor, poor Jared. I’m a total sucker for angsty, vaguely dangerous but incredibly loyal bad boys (at least in fiction) and I was blown away by the scene where they meet for real. The intensity of that moment may have even topped the climactic ending for me. I was utterly intrigued by how nicely Brennan was able to weave his and Kami’s obvious connection into their inherent differences–especially where a possible romance is concerned.

If there’s one thing “Unspoken” does really well, it’s starting in exactly the right place. The insular world of Sorry-in-the-Vale was so beautifully crafted that I was more than content with waiting to learn of Jared’s existence and get into the meat of the mystery just so I could get a feel for the location. Not that the mystery wasn’t totally compelling in its own right–a great blend of the magical and the mundane.

I enjoyed picking out the similarities to more old-fashioned Gothic novels, and if I hadn’t had to return my copy, I would’ve spent more time than is healthy figuring out how each chapter title related to the rest of the chapter and to the Gothic as a whole genre. That being said, I hit the wall about midway through the story where going slow and savoring each twist and turn wasn’t going to happen. At that point I was too invested and needed to know what happened immediately.

As for the ending, well . . . I won’t spoil you. Let’s just say that I’m thrilled there’s going to be a sequel.

View all my other reviews

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