Review Blog

Nov 02 2012

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

cover image The Lynburn Legacy Book One. Random House USA, 2012. Hardback. ISBN: 9780375870415.
(Age: 14+) Having very much enjoyed the Demon's Lexicon series, the first trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan, I was keen to read this. Sarah is extremely active on twitter, and her tumblr is a great source of information and humour. She interacts with her audience and presents herself as a strong, highly intelligent young woman. To have found this offering a little wanting is most disappointing. However, I'm sure you will be able to overlook my niggles and put it in the hands of appreciative teenagers.
The premise of Unspoken is promising. Imagine hearing a voice in your head from your earliest memories, a male voice who comforts and soothes you through all your nightmares and worries, a voice who says he's Jared, and is always there when you need him, a voice you have to pretend doesn't exist the older you get, because your family and friends start believing you're a little bit psycho. Now imagine that the body attached to that voice suddenly turns up in your village, a boy who is gorgeous and reckless and surly. How do you cope then? This is Kami's life.
There are some lovely gothic elements: extremely unusual occurrences in the dense forest near the village of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and secrets and more secrets. Kami sees herself as an intrepid reporter, bossy and domineering. These elements are extremely well written. When she secures an office for her school newspaper (it's more like a cupboard), she gathers together a modern day bunch of scoobies (this is a Scooby Doo reference from the pop cult TV show, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer). All the support characters are well portrayed.
The humour is excellent. This is a snarky book, full of one-liners. Kami is sarcastic, Angela hates everyone, Rusty, Angela's brother, jumps out and attacks the girls randomly to keep them on their toes, and the two new recruits - Ash and Jared - the two Lynburn cousins, newly returned from the USA, hate each other, have mysterious secrets, and both start making a play for Kami. Oh word, it's complicated.
My one issue is how the confrontation of the psychic pair is handled. Kami and Jared have been in each other's heads, for as long as they can remember, and yet, once they meet in person, the whole experience is awkward and strained. I found that difficult to accept. I am not sure if my issue is with the way it was written, or with the idea that they would struggle to cope with their physical selves. But in the last third of the book - when they face danger and try to outwit the evil, when all the attention is on trying to stay alive - Unspoken is at its best. It's exciting, tense, and completely riveting.
Oh, and a heart-breaking last chapter will bring readers back for the second. Recommended for lovers of paranormal mysteries with a dash of romance thrown in.
Trisha Buckley
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