Sunday, September 8, 2013

Unspoken - Sarah Rees Brennan



 Summary

Goodreads:  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?


 Thoughts

This book was SO SO funny.  Like completely different than I was expecting.  I loved the characters, and yay diversity, and YAY girl friends who aren't catty and awful and YAY EVERYTHING IN THIS BOOK.

Ok.  I can't even begin to organize my thoughts here.  I'm trying, I really am.  On the surface, it's a gothic mystery which would have been enough to make me love it already.  Kami is hilarious.  Like seriously laugh out loud funny.  I was reading this out in the square and I had to leave because I have a bad tendency to pull faces when I read, and laughing hysterically when you are sitting by yourself is a sure way to freak out all the parents who frequent the square.



This is what I imagine I looked like.


Beyond that, you've got two hunks sort vying for her attention and sort of trying to not be into her (it's weird, but it is one of the few love triangles I didn't mind very much).  So it's got eye candy for those of you who love your book boyfriends, but it's doesn't focus on the love triangle...ish thing that's going on or have instalove, for those of you who hate having to deal with that.  Her friends are awesome and they keep up their crazy banter up almost the whole time (until it gets life or death and serious).  Seriously, the dialogue here is so funny I don't know how anyone can read this without laughing out loud!

Sarah Rees Brennan tackles so many great girl issues with this book.  Kami and Angela have been best friends for the past 6 years and they clearly love each other, even though they're both a bit crazy.  Unlike Kami and Angela who have been besties for years, Holly joins the group during the book, and how Brennan deals with her is a big part of why I thought the book was so amazing.  Kami has assumed for years that Holly is a "floozy" because she hangs out predominantly with guys and is rather well endowed.  Jared (voice in head boy) points out that this might have to do with her being ostracized by girls because she developed young (age 11).  This totally happens in middle school and continues into high school, and Kami feels like she was a bit of a prat because Holly has never actually given Kami a reason to dislike her.  Once she realizes this, she takes Jared's suggestion to invite Holly to sit with her in class (or at lunch?) and Holly seems so happy that she was asked to hang out by a girl that Kami realizes that Holly doesn't hang out with girls  not because she doesn't want to, but because other girls snub her.  I love this because it deals with all the complicated relationships that girls have especially in middle and high school, but not in the way most YA contemporaries do (because really it seems to be only YA contemporaries or normal fiction books that deal with this).  It's significantly less angsty and it doesn't fall into the trap that most books I've been coming across do: you say she's your bff, but she acts like an unreasonable bitch.  Honestly, this whole situation is dealt with so quickly (I mean, it really isn't the point of the book, I just happen to love it)  and it's funny the whole way through.  Then there's an Angela's epiphany, and I can't say too much about this because, spoilers so proceed to the highlighted section with caution.

*SPOILERS*  We find out that Angela is a lesbian towards the end of the book.  And it is so not a big deal in an amazing way!  It's a surprise, but it's one Kami overcomes in the span of a paragraph (because let's face it, psychopathic magical beings who are about to kill said best friend are kind of a much bigger deal).  I also love that Angela isn't made into a lesbian cliche, and that her identity as a person is not defined by her sexuality.  I thought it was dealt with SO well.  And I have high standards on these things as I'd say probably half of my friends are out.  I'm so happy that I'm seeing more LGBT characters in literature, particularly in YA literature because that's the audience that is discovering their sexuality.  It is so, so important to not only have LGBT characters in the literature, it is important to have characters who happen to be LGBT, rather than characters whose sexuality defines who they are as people, rather than it being a by product of who they are.  I digress.  On to the book!  *SPOILERS*

I think what I love most about this story, and honestly that's saying something because I am so FULL OF LOVE about everything to do with this book, is that it follows the story of what you'd expect a paranormal YA book to be, but the characters are what separates it.  Kami is not a "strong female character".  She has legitimate martial arts training, but she's small, and while insatiably curious, she gets terrified.  She has a wide array of emotions.  AND she's got this awesome/weird mental/emotional bond with Jared.  But instead of making them have an instalove situation (as is expected in paranormal YA as far as I can tell), it makes things awkward.  I mean, imagine you've known someone your entire life - they know every single secret about you, even the kind of secrets you would never share with a single soul as long as you live.  You think they are an imaginary friend, and that maybe you're a little bit crazy.  Then you MEET them.  You've never seen this person, never physically interacted with them, but they know your deepest, darkest secrets.  Can you imagine how uncomfortable that would be?  How unsettling? In any other paranormal romance, it would be grounds for deep love bond yayyy.  But this bond forces the characters to feel a deep connection to  each other against their will.  I feel it is very important to note that.  It gives it a completely different feeling...sort of...mind rapey for lack of a better term.  It's a sort of...slavery, if you will.  Not being free to feel as you choose, to even think anything privately really.  They have to consciously put a mental block up to hide any thoughts and feelings from each other.  Honestly, it sounds exhausting. 

Of course, the whole book is focused on the mystery behind Kami's hometown, Sorry-in-the-Vale, and what role the Lynburns play in it, and not all these wonderful things I'm raving on about.  While it's not hard to guess there's something supernatural behind it, pretty much everything else you think is wrong.  Seriously, this book is amazing!  There's just enough familiarity in the subject material and genre to keep the suspense ratcheted up, but there's so many twists, and (really I'm not just saying this) they're really good twists.  Now some of you might be quicker to pick things up than I am, but I promise you will be genuinely surprised at some of the reveals.  This book is really unique because it is so familiar, but so clearly sets itself from other books I've read in this genre by how it deals with out expectations of characters and outcomes in a situation.  Honestly I know I'm talking in circles at this point but I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH.  And I'm running out of ways to say that differently haha. 

Here are some more reasons to love this book (but more concisely now, I promise):

1.  Diversity - you've not only got a half Japanese character, she's the main character.  Her dad is Japanese by race, but he grew up in this town.  I think people forget that just because you look a certain nationality, it doesn't mean that you ARE that nationality.  I don't remember if her dad was English born or not, but he's definitely an English native as he was raised there.  So that's already two awesome things
2.  Pro LGBT
3.  Strong female characters, but not strong female characters, very distinctive and different personalities.  And the secondary characters are so well done they almost don't feel like secondary characters, in the way that Ron and Hermione don't really feel like secondary characters.
4.  Great parental figures.  I know right?  It's completely shocking.  Kami's family is awesome!!  She loves them, doesn't always agree with them, and feels like an outsider at times, but they are actual people with separate characters!  And they love her unconditionally.  How many YA books can you name that even match ONE of those statements?
 5.  This book never stopped surprising me.



Seriously, every time I thought I had it all figured out, I was wrong!


When I got to the last paragraph I basically went...WHAT???? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME. HOW.  WHY. I;ALSDKA;SKDGH;ADKGH;ASDKHG;ASKFGA.  That being said....no cliffhanger!!  My reaction wasn't because of a cliffhanger, if you've read it you know what it is.  But can I just repeat this?  NO CLIFFHANGER!!!  Praise the lord, alleluia. 

In the Ring of Endless Light post, I mentioned that I hadn't found books I could reread over and over the way I could with books I was a kid.  Well consider me wrong, this book definitely is going to get reread billions of times.  I can't believe I found this book two weeks before the new one comes out!!!! (Although I suppose by the time I post this it will have already been out for a while). 


Overall

Seriously, you have to read this.  I mean it.  There is not a single reason for you not to read this.  I honestly think this might be my favourite read of the whole year.  I don't think it's possible for me to read a book better than this one.  IT IS SO FREAKING GOOD!!!


Bechdel Test

...I forgot to check whether it passed or not before I returned it to the library, but since I'm planning on buying the book soon anyway, I'll update this when I get the book!

4 comments:

  1. Audrey @ The Book AnalystSeptember 8, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    I actually just finished this novel too! I read it when I went camping with parents and I would start laughing in the middle of a page. Definitely got some weird looks haha. I totally agree with this entire review; i feel like you put my thoughts onto your blog!

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  2. I'm glad I'm not the only person who looked crazy while reading this haha! And I'm glad you loved it as much as I did...I cannot WAIT until I get my hands on the sequel!

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  3. kirstymariejonesstudioreadsSeptember 15, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    Yay! Glad you loved it as much as I did, because it is seriously amazing. I'm a huge LGBT supporter, so that was a major thing for me too, and I loved how she wasn't stereotyped, and wasn't this big thing, because it definitely sends a great message. I so need to read it again before I read Untold. Great review. :)

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  4. I think the last time I was this excited for a book to come out was when the last Harry Potter book came out! Of course I haven't pre-ordered a book since then either...I'm usually responsible and wait for the library or used bookstore to get it...

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