Unspoken in the first book in Sarah Rees Brennan's new Lynburn Legacy series. This book was very highly recommended by Liz Burns at Tea Cozy (among others), which caused me to move it to the top of my list. Fans of paranormal young adult fiction, particularly those who enjoy Gothic overtones, will definitely want to give this one a look.
17-year-old Kami Glass lives with her parents and two younger brothers in the small English village of Sorry-in-the-Vale. For her entire life, Kami has had an imaginary friend named Jared. Jared basically lives inside of Kami's head, always there for her, her closest friend (one of very few friends, in truth, because her habit of zoning out while talking with Jared inside her head has scared more than a few people off).
For her whole life, Kami has heard whispers about the Lynburn family, owners of the mansion on the hill above the town. The Lynburns have been gone for 17 years, returning as Unspoken begins. And one of the Lynburns turns out to be named Jared. Strange things begin from there.
One thing that I really liked about Unspoken was the way that the reveal of what the book is about unfolds gradually. Not that it's a slow-paced book, there is plenty of conflict and suspense throughout. But just what is going on with Kami and Jared, with the Lynburns, with the town, that all takes time to develop. You don't start the book thinking "Oh, this is a book about x, y, z." You start the book thinking "This Kami girl has some real challenges." And Unspoken pulls you in from there.
Kami is a great character. She's small and feisty, half-Asian, a born reporter, determined to investigate strange events in her small town. She puts on a strong front, even when she is terrified. Her best friend Angela is tall and gorgeous and downright hostile to almost everyone - also a delight. Her brothers, though relatively minor characters, are solidly three-dimensional. And Jared, despite the fact that some scenes are related from his viewpoint, is an enigma. There's a semblance of a romantic triangle between Kami, Jared, and Jared's cousin Ash. But even the triangle is unconventional. The romantic elements are overshadowed by the paranormal events anyway, and even by the other non-romantic relationships.
There's a strong Gothic feel to Unspoken. Many scenes take place in the woods, or in a creepy mansion. Yes, there are also home, school and pub scenes, but the author uses most of her descriptive energy on the darker images, black clouds forming across the sky, strange noises in the night, and so on. Like this:
"Kami jumped up from her chair and ran out of her bedroom. She thumped down the narrow creaking stairs and out the back door into the silver-touched square that was garden at night. The dark curve of the woods held the glittering lights of Sorry-in-the-Vale like a handful of stars in a shadowy palm. On the other end of the woods, high above the town, was Aurimere House, its bell tower a skeletal finger pointing at the sky." (Page 5)
Sarah Rees Brennan has a gift for quick, perfect turns of phrase. Like this:
""Come on, Blondie," he said to Ash, who moved forward propelled by the sheer force of his own politeness." (Page 189)
"People went by, some with their heads down, some with their umbrellas pessimistically up despite the fact that there was no rain." (Page 216)
"Mum lifted her head and smiled a smile as bright as winter sunlight, and about as warm." (Page 294)
I could go on, but I'm sure you get the idea. Unspoken is a must-read title for anyone who likes mysterious, spooky titles, with strong characters, vivid scenes, and surprising, suspenseful plotting. There's really nothing more to ask for, besides the next book in the series. Highly recommended.
Publisher: Random House (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).