Unspoken: The Lynburn Legacy, Book One, by Sarah Rees Brennan

I can already see a problem with my review-a-day plan: my feelings about one book are going to bleed into another. I'm certain I would have enjoyed Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken regardless, but a little additional love may have been generated by the sharp contrast it presented to the story I read yesterday.

Brennan's heroine is Kami Glass, possibly the only seventeen-year-old in England who still believes in her imaginary friend. Kami, who dreams of becoming a reporter, is determined to learn more about the mysterious Lynburn family, who have just returned to her quiet village home of Sorry-in-the-Vale after twenty years abroad. When the Lynburn cousins, Ash and Jared, turn up at Kami's school, she is stunned—and horrified—to discover that surly, trouble-making Jared seems to be the owner of the voice she's heard in her head since she was a baby. And that's before things get really weird, and someone starts sacrificing small animals in the woods...

Too much of Unspoken reads like fanfiction (which I would bet cash money Brennan writes). Its characters are wish fulfillment personified: uniformly gorgeous, intelligent, and loyal. The author's inability to let go of a good one-liner leads to reams of amusing but implausibly glib dialogue. The Big Bad was underdeveloped, which meant the ending felt rushed. And the cover design, while charming on its own merits, is reminiscent of several current releases aimed at 9- to 12-year-olds, which older readers may find off-putting.

Happily, these faults are meaningless in the face of the book's absolutely delicious central conflict. Kami and Jared's relationship is teen-angst gold. Their devotion to one another is absolute, but the shift from “imaginary friend” to “flesh and blood fellow human” is almost more than they can handle, and neither has a clear idea of what they might want from their relationship in the future. The final scene in Unspoken does a superb job of setting up the second installment, and I for one will be there with bells on to see where Brennan takes these characters next.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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