Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

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Sarah Rees Brennan
Series: The Lynburn Legacy, #1
Production date: September 11th 2012
by Random House Books for Young Readers


Kami Glass is in love with someone she’s never met—a boy she’s talked to in her head since she was born. This has made her an outsider in the sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, but she has learned ways to turn that to her advantage. Her life seems to be in order, until disturbing events begin to occur. There has been screaming in the woods and the manor overlooking the town has lit up for the first time in 10 years. . . . The Lynburn family, who ruled the town a generation ago and who all left without warning, have returned. Now Kami can see that the town she has known and loved all her life is hiding a multitude of secrets—and a murderer. The key to it all just might be the boy in her head. The boy she thought was imaginary is real, and definitely and deliciously dangerous.

*A copy was provided by Random House Children’s Books for review purposes*

A tale filled with magic, thrill, romance, and charm, Unspoken is a unique Gothic mystery that, if only I could have clicked with its characters, I might have greatly enjoyed. And as I seem to be in the minority on this one, I think fans of Gothic novels should definitely give it a try as it does have good writing and a very creative concept.

While most of the Gothic novels I have come to love have been fairly slow paced – ie. The Book of Blood and Shadow and Long Lankin – I found that Unspoken did not convey quite enough of a Gothic atmosphere or creepy factor to make up for the slower development. It does start out with a very decent pace, but I found the first three quarters of the book is spent with Kami while she goes around gathering clues to find a killer, yet she’s too occupied with her complicated feelings towards Jared, sometimes Ash, to focus on finding answers. I’m sure if I would have been completely immersed in these characters and their unusual connection I would have found this a lot more compelling. Sadly none of these people really spoke to me, making the book feel very long winded. The off-putting dialogue, or maybe their bland personalities, halted me from developing any sort of connection with them.

With a British setting, we get interactions that are a little different than what you would expect in North America – or at least I was told lots of it were a part of the British culture. I could deal with the humor and wit – I actually quite enjoyed that aspect – but I could not get used to the flow of their conversations or the way they sometimes interacted with each other. Kami has an awkward personality, she talks very formally at times, making bizarre comments with strange conversational shifts that comes off as unnatural. For example, during a casual conversation she asks her date: “So… tell me about the difficulties in your family”. Who talks like this? I was hoping it would grow on me, but unfortunately it never did and I kept cringing whenever these people started conversing.

Even though the characters failed to entice me, the plot did give me a few chills and saved it from being a complete loss. We have a freaky manor, a strange family who everyone seems to be terrified of, and a town full of secrets. Plus, Kami has been talking to a voice in her head her whole life. Is he real? Or is she crazy? Being right up my alley, this setting easily grabbed me from the first page. If it wasn’t for the slow, romantically inclined telling, it could have easily become a 5-star favorite. When we do get some answers there are a lot of unexpected turns that I would not have predicted. However, when it came to the big climactic ending – the reveal of the killer – I had already been suspecting this person for a while so it came as no surprise for me, thus negatively affecting the intended impact. The events following this up to the ending were at least a little more unforeseeable, closing on a surprising note that makes me curious for book 2 regardless of my qualms.

Unspoken is a creepy and quirky read that has a lot of potential to garner fans who will absolutely fall for it. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite as impressed as many others; when I don’t care about the characters, it’s hard to care for the rest, but I still found it to be an OK read.

2 Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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26 Responses to “Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan”

  1. Amy

    It’s too bad that this one wasn’t great for you. I was about to start reading this, but decided to read Hanging By A Thread first, then get to this. Now I am not looking forward to it as much. I really need to like the characters to enjoy a book. I see that you are reading Fang Girl!! I am going to be starting that one today too!!

  2. Savannah Valdez

    I like this author but sometimes her writing I can’t get into. I agree that when you can’t get into the characters its hard to feel the book. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

    Sorry to hear that the characters didn’t really click with you on this one. I do like the occasional Gothic novel and I was intrigued with this one, though chilly plot alone probably wouldn’t be enough for me either. There’s so many raving reviews for this one, I’m really happy yours took a different stance, Giselle! Thanks for the great review!

  4. Alexa

    I really think the cover is pretty! I’m not sure when or if I’d have the time to read this, but it looks interesting enough.

  5. Candace

    I’m actually reading this now and am LOVING it! I’m at the very very end. One thing I’m confused about is you say that Kami came from living in America. In my book she’s lived in Sorry in the Vale her entire life. Did you mean to say Jared?
    And with her saying goofy things I took it as part of her awkwardness, like she just has to say something. But we all interpet things different.
    My favorite aspect of the book is the characters and the plot feels secondary. But I do like ot too.
    I don’t really love how she was back and forth about Jared and Ash though and don’t get why Jared doesn’t like to touch her but wants to date her. And its confusing when we suddenly go from being with Kami to being with Jared. Maybe that will be cleared up in the final edition.
    Anyway, its too bad you didn’t enjoy this more!

  6. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Oooh I see what you mean about the dialogue. If someone asked me that I would look at them like this O.o quite strange indeed! It’s too bad this one didn’t work a little better for you, I have seen a lot of really good reviews for it so I will probably still give it a go, but I won’t be in any rush to do so.

  7. Giselle

    @Candace: Oh you’re right! I went to read the prologue again and it said “Today, after seventeen years in America, Mari gol Lynburn’s daughters have returned to Sorry- in- theVale” and for some reason I had registered that it was our MC – when you start a book all the names are fresh and stuff. Thanks for pointing that out I’ll edit it out of the review O_O

    I’m glad you loved it though. I seem to be in the minority with this one I just didn’t click with the MC at all. Which is a shame because Gothis mysteries are my fav genre!

  8. Millie

    Aww, sorry to see you didn’t enjoy it much! I’ve been iffy about this one ever since I came across it. I still think I’ll read it sometime, but not anytime soon. I can wait to read this one. I enjoy the occasional Gothic and all, and I do agree that they tend to have a slow beginning. Great review!

  9. Mel - Thedailyprophecy.

    I tend to like it when characters talk like that, haha. There is a series and it’s filled with talk like that; I loved it, while a lot of people hated it. So it actually make this book more appealing to me in a strange way :p

    I will have a harder time if I feel disconnected from the characters like you, but I’m willing to give it a shot. Sorry to hear you didn’t love it 🙂 but great review!

  10. Maji Bookshelf

    This actually sounds really cool! Im still glad that you liked the plot even if you didnt click with the characters! Hopefully this will be a fun read for me. Great review Giselle!
    – Farah @ MajiBookshelf

  11. Gina @ My Precious

    Oh no only 2 Espressos, bummer but it is difficult when you aren’t connecting with the characters. I’m a reader who CAN survive on just a good plot line, so maybe I’ll still give this one a try?

  12. Suzanne @ Paranormal Book Fan

    I’m the same, it’s very hard to like a book if I don’t like the characters. But the premise of this one does sound really good. As I’m from Ireland and used to British culture, hopefully I might be able to connect with it a bit more than you were able to. Well at least I hope I can because I have it coming up for review soon. Sorry you didn’t enjoy it more.

  13. Melissa

    I haven’t read many gothic novels before and I’ve heard some great things about this one so I might give it a try. I’m sorry this one didn’t catch you, but here’s to hoping you enjoy your next read better!

  14. kay - Infinite Shelf

    Aw, so sad you didn’t enjoy this one, but as always I am happy to hear another point of view on this one (since I have only read highly positive reviews of it so far!) It’s hard for me too to keep up with a book if I don’t care about the characters!

  15. Kristilyn (Reading In Winter)

    That’s too bad you didn’t like this one! I thought it looked not bad, but characters are such a huge thing in a novel that I would probably feel disappointed, too. Of course, I do love a good scare while reading! Glad this one was able to provide you with a few chills. 🙂

    Great review, Giselle!

  16. Gorelenore

    Thanks for this review, I gave it 3 stars and was surprised when so many others outright loved it. I felt like there was just something missing the whole time I was reading.

    Thanks again!