Kami Glass has an imaginary friend. What no one knows is that the voice in her head is actually real. His name is Jared, and ever since Kami can remember, he’s been there. Jared knows her fears, failings, successes, and dreams. But with her already inconspicuous Japanese heritage, Kami avoids standing out at all costs. She is content to have one loyal, beautiful, and standoffish friend named Holly and a small abandoned classroom in which to write the school newspaper. Kami’s latest story will cover the return of the mysterious Lynburn family, the original founders of Sorry-in-the-Vale. During her research she manages to recruit new boys (and cousins) Ash and Jared Lynburn themselves onto the newspaper staff. Bloody, unreal occurrences around the estate have been cropping up ever since they moved back, and Kami is determined to investigate despite the risks. Just as hunky Ash takes an interest in her, Kami finally meets Jared Lynburn, who is coincidentally the Jared in her head. How can she reconcile their psychic connection with reality when her life is at stake?
I didn’t quite know what to expect from Sarah Rees Brennan’s new series, which is part-paranormal and part-Gothic mystery. I’ve read all of her books and never had a miss. I didn’t need to know more, or frankly, anything at all. I’ve been a proud SRB fangirl ever since I read The Demon’s Lexicon series last year. Any fears were allayed this year when I read and enjoyed her first non-Nick/Alan book, Team Human. Alan will always hold a special place in my heart, but I liked Mel. Brennan’s books do have some common elements, i.e. the insider falling in love with the outsider, absent fathers, and aloof mothers, but each of them stands on their own. Of course no book would be complete without her humor, and Unspoken is chock-full of her trademark wit and distinct characterization. Longtime SRB fans are setup to like her newest offering, and I’m not surprised that I fell into that camp.
After receiving the egalley I waited before cracking open Unspoken. When I finally did, I failed in my intentions to savor it and compulsively read it in a few days. Then the inevitable nostalgic longing for more set in. I read a perfectly fine book after it but I couldn’t stop remembering Unspoken, it affected me deeper than I originally thought. Clearly I’m biased, but the constant stream of wisecracks from Kami were ever- entertaining. Headstrong and funny, Kami tempers the more serious, portentous events occurring in Sorry-in-the-Vale with her quick sarcasm. While on the outside it may seem that nothing fazes her, on the inside, and particularly in the internal dialogue with Jared, she’s incredibly vulnerable – self-conscious about her appearance, her reputation as half-Asian, and being caught more than once speaking to thin air. This is where Unspoken really shines. The complicated, tender dynamics in the relationship between Kami and Jared were well-thought out and caused me to pause and reflect. It was difficult for me to imagine the implications of suddenly meeting someone who previously only existed in your head, but SRB’s interpretation rings true. One of my favorite early dialogues about losing him (from my uncorrected ARC):
Everyone would think it was the best thing for her. Except that Kami couldn’t think of it as the best thing for her. Not when every time she thought of losing Jared, her heart beat out an insistent rhythm of sheer desolate misery and all she could think about was how she would miss him.
I was thinking maybe … , Kami said, and thought about him, what was best for him, steadily so he knew she was sure. Maybe things would be better for you if you do what your mother wants.
Jared said, I don’t care.
Too many of their walls were coming down with their shared distress, blazing a channel open between. She should pull back. She would in a moment.
I don’t want to be sane. I don’t want to be normal, said Jared. I just want you.
Their connection is just palpable and lovely, isn’t it? Kami and Jared struggled with looking or experiencing any physical contact with one another at first, the collision between their imaginary and real worlds was so disconcerting. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any swoon. I was fully invested in these two, which made the ending shocker incredibly painful. Some cliffhangers merely tease, but this sudden end was tortuous for me. While I wouldn’t change anything about Unspoken, it’s going to be a long wait for Unbound.
Unspoken is due out September 11.
A Book Obsession review – “I cannot possibly praise Unspoken any higher, it was beautiful, it was hilarious, and it was haunting all at once, making for an absolutely amazing read.”
Cuddlebuggery Book Blog – “I think this book earned each and every one of those five stars. It earned them hard and I need the next one NOW.”
Once Upon a Bookcase Review – “I’m looking forward to picking up book two, despite my few issues with Unspoken.”
Refracted Light Review – “Overall, oh my, yes! Yes, yes, and more yes … Unspoken is a wonderfully compelling read.”