Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication Date: September 11th 2012My rating: 4 Stars
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?
Unspoken is not the story I was expecting, and I enjoyed that. Somehow I thought this would be a dark and serious tale, and some of it is. Mostly, it was a story full of wit and fun, a little romance, and magic.
Unspoken is centered on Kami Glass, a high-school student, and ambitious journalist-in-training. She’s head of the school newspaper, and always on the trail of a new story. But now Kami’s focused on uncovering secrets, because the founding family of Sorry-in-the-Vale, The Lynburn’s, have come back, after a seventeen year absence, and no one thinks this is a good thing. There’s one more thing you need to know about Kami: she’s grown up with an imaginary friend (or so she thinks), Jared. When the Lynburn boys show up in school, Kami finds out that Jared is not an imaginary friend at all, but a real live flesh and blood boy. A boy not happy to find out that his imaginary friend is anything but. Kami is shocked, as well, but this has to take a backseat to the strange occurrences that start happening around her.
Animal sacrifices, an attempt on her life, and the murder of a girl, become the mysteries that must be solved. Is it a coincidence that all this has happened since the Lynburn’s return? Kami doesn’t think so. Everywhere she turns she gets a warning to stay away from the Lynburn’s, they’re dangerous, but why? Even her mother begs her to stay away from Jared, but Kami knows she can’t. To stay away from him would be like tearing herself in half.
Kami is such a quirky, unstoppable, and fun force. Her sense of humor was dry, witty and sharp. It was impossible not to be enamored with her from the get-go. Kami’s always thought of herself as a bit crazy, knowing normal people didn’t have an imaginary friend. When she finds out Jared is real, she knows that some sort of magic must exist and be involved. Kami can’t help but be tentative and frightened of Jared, because he knows so many of her inner thoughts and secrets. Someone like that can hold so much power over you.
Jared is angry to find out Kami is real too, for the same reasons. He’s a moody, broody, male and doesn’t like that he’s so vulnerable to Kami. But soon they sort out most of their anger, and become closer than ever before. Jared is fiercely protective of Kami now that he knows someone’s out to kill her. He can’t lose Kami, the most important connection in his life; someone who’s always been in his corner, even when his family has not. I found myself rooting for their brewing romance even as they fought so hard against it. I wanted to scream: “Kiss her, dammit!” These two go back and forth and had me laughing some of the time. Here’s a fun quote:
“A leather jacket,” Kami said as he shrugged into it. “Aren’t you trying a little too hard to play into certain bad boy clichés?”
“Nah,” said Jared. “You’re thinking of black leather. Black leather’s for bad boys. It’s all in the color. You wouldn’t think I was a bad boy if I was wearing a pink leather jacket.”
“That’s true,” Kami said. “What I would think of you, I do not know. So what does brown leather mean, then?”
“I’m going for manly,” Jared said. “Maybe a little rugged.”
“It’s bits of a dead cow, don’t ask it to perform miracles.”-Kami
There are a few twists and turns that keep you guessing who’s at the bottom of this mystery. Suspicion is cast on everyone. There’s a fun cast of secondary characters, as well: Angela, Kami’s perpetually annoyed and unfailingly loyal best friend. Rusty, Angela’s brother, a self-defense instructor always leaping out on the two of them to keep their defenses sharp. Holly, the eager new friend. Kami’s father and little brothers, Ten, who is ten, and seven year-old, Tomo, also bring a lot of random and silly humor to the story. The Lynburn family figures in prominently, but they are far from fun.
I had two complaints with the story, one bigger than the other. First, the writing felt a little disjointed and choppy in places. Not a smooth transition from one happening to the next. Not a huge issue but it took some getting used to. My second complaint is a much bigger deal to me: the HORRIBLE cliffhanger we’re left on!! Why, why, why?!! Ugh!! I have no patience whatsoever, and now I’m forced to wait until next June to find out what happens! In spite of these complaints, I did really enjoy the story and I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel.
Thanks to Random House Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for allowing me to read this.