16 February 2015

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

I was turned on to UNSPOKEN by two people almost at the same time: one, my friend from work, who reads as much as I do, rated it on Goodreads; at almost the same time, one of my valued Critique Partners mentioned it as a comp title for her own work.

It took me a while to get around to reading it - my To-Read list grows ever larger - but I DID finally get to it.

It took me a while to get into it. I started it at a time when work was keeping me fairly busy, plus Downton Abbey had just started again and I had fallen behind. Anyway, it took me almost a week to read it - and I read the last third or so in a single day.

UNSPOKEN follows Kami Glass, spunky British schoolgirl reporter, as she starts up a newspaper in her sleepy town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. The people of the Vale live in fear of the Lynburns, the absent family that owns most of the town, and that people whisper secrets about. Just as the story starts, the Lynburns return.

UNSPOKEN is billed as gothic romance, but it didn't seem that different from paranormal romance, complete with a love triangle. I generally find love triangles tiresome, and this one didn't impress me any, but that's one quibble.

Where UNSPOKEN blew me away was in its dialogue. It was witty, deeply funny, and presented a paradox to me: while I could never imagine any teenagers sounding like they did in the book, somehow, the characters sounded exactly like teenagers nonetheless.

Kami is one of the wittiest narrators I have ever read.

UNSPOKEN ended up being a very enjoyable read. It didn't really pop out at me with any surprises, but then again, not every book needs crazy twists.

The only gripe I had with it was the feeling that, even though it's set in England, it didn't ever feel truly English to me. It felt more like the American South, somehow. I don't know why that would be, but it just did. There was something quintessentially British that I was missing from it.

The author is in fact Irish, so I wonder if something happened when it was localized for American readers. It definitely removed more of the British-ness than I would have liked. I always thought the HARRY POTTER books trod this line well, but UNSPOKEN went way over the edge and stripped out all the charm.

Still, I've already picked up the sequel and can't wait to read it.