By Sarah Rees Brennan
Available now from Random House
Read my reviews of THE DEMON'S LEXICON and TEAM HUMAN
I don't know if people follow my links to previous reviews of an author's books. Oh, sometimes I do, if I look at my stats at the right moment, but I'm talking about the general case. But what I'm getting at is that if you read my review of THE DEMON'S LEXICON, it isn't glowing. Oh, it's positive, but it's not gushing. But in the almost three years since I've written that review, I've read THE DEMON'S LEXICON several times and completed the series. I can't say that for most of the books I've reviewed. Sarah Rees Brennan created a set of characters that I wanted to spend time with, even if they made bad decisions or hurt each other. With UNSPOKEN, she's done that again.
Kami Glass is not your average girl reporter. For one thing, the school paper didn't exist until she made it exist. And the other reporter is her best friend, the lazy and beautiful Angela, who didn't realize what Kami was doing until it was too late to escape her plans. Then a couple of juicy stories fall into her lap. The Lynburns return to Sorry-in-the-Vale and teenage Ash shows up to headquarters asking to be the paper's photographer and thus perfectly placed to be interviewed about his family's secrets. And fellow student Holly comes to Kami with a tip about a murdered animal on the side of the road.
Then Kami's imaginary friend shows up in the flesh.
The blurb claims that "Sarah Rees Brennan brings the Gothic romance kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century," and I can't disagree with that. She delivers not one but three awesome heroines who use their variety of talents to get in and out of trouble. The boys - the Lynburn cousins - are pretty great too. They aren't perfect characters - even Kami has her faults. But most of them are pretty good about trying to be better when their faults are addressed. And there are secrets around every corner. Even innocuous old ladies have secrets! There's plenty of that Gothic steaminess to go around too. There are lots of potential couples, including a lesbian one, but of course it is never just as easy as liking someone. Especially not when you're in high school and everyone has secrets.
But don't go thinking UNSPOKEN is stuffy. It is, in fact, hilarious. Take the following passage:
"We're going to die." Something else dawned on her. "And where is your shirt?"
"Let me explain," said Jared. "I had just gone to bed, like a reasonable person, when you decided to get tossed into a well like a crazy person. And then it was a matter of some urgency to reach you. You're lucky I tripped over my jeans on the way out the door."
"You leave your jeans on the floor?" Kami asked, horrified. "You're messy on top of everything else? This day just keeps getting worse." - p. 56, ARCThere are very few people in the cast who don't enjoy a good joke, and that includes the adults. (One major exception is town matriarch Lillian Lynburn, who might deign to raise her eyebrow in contempt when she hears a particularly fine jest.)
The end of UNSPOKEN comes rather abruptly. The plot does reach a climax and everything - that's my pet peeve and you know I'd be angrily ranting if it didn't. But the ending does remind you that yes, UNSPOKEN is the first book in the Lynburn Legacy and things are not going to end all tied up with a bow. But for those who don't deal with long waits well, you might want to wait to read UNSPOKEN until the next book is out. I haven't had my heart ripped out and stomped on so thoroughly since Holly Black's WHITE CAT.
Either way, I recommend you read UNSPOKEN eventually. It's a funny tale of derring-do, intrepid reportage, young love, magic, and human sacrifice. Just like they used to write 'em.