Monday, 24 September 2012

Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

(image and summary from goodreads, eARC courtesy of NetGalley)


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?

My thoughts:

I used to get confused when I read reviews that said the author had not mastered the ‘show, don’t tell’ aspect of writing. After reading Unspoken however, I think I get what those writers meant, though Sarah Rees Brennan certainly belongs to the group that ‘shows’. The descriptions were spot on, so much so you can almost see the mist emanating when the characters speak, and hear the twigs crunch beneath their feet. In fact, so lovely were the descriptions that I wish I could visit Sorry-In-The-Vale, creepy as it may be! Paranormal romance seems to be the ‘in’ genre these days, and it was refreshing to see an original idea in the midst of the werewolf/vampire onslaught. 

I did have a few minor issues and I almost feel guilty bringing them up because there was hardly anything to complain about at all. First and foremost, the writing felt very simplistic at times, switching from writing suited to older teens, to writing for younger ones. The back-and-forth styles were rather distracting. Also, there were instances where the situations or timelines had changed without any warning, so I would have to read the paragraph again to understand that a couple of hours had passed, or that the characters were now at home, when in the previous paragraph they were at school. Like I said, minor issues.

I loved the fact that all supporting characters were involved somehow, and no one functioned as mere furniture. Normally an ‘incurably lazy’ friend (those are Kami’s words, not mine) should bother me tremendously. But somehow, I could relate to this ‘Sleeping Beauty’ because I myself have a best friend who has never failed to stress to me how much she loves to sleep! Angela’s snarkiness more than made up for her constant need to take naps and wish I had half the wit both she and Kami have! I can’t leave out Holly either, who seems to be a genuinely nice person; I’m so glad she was brought into the story. 

I guess I can’t do a review of this book without bringing up The Lynburns. Like all the other characters, every single member of the awe (and fear)-inspiring family had a part to play, and I’m looking forward to where the story goes next. 

Double kudos to the author for providing our heroine with an intact family, complete with a cheeky dad, nurturing mum and sweet siblings! I feel like I should also give extra points for the fact that the cover had something to do with the story. Here’s hoping they won’t replace it with yet another girl in a pretty dress!