Unspoken, by Sarah Rees Brennan
Unspoken, Sarah Ress Brennan’s newest book (and the first of the “Lynburn Legacy” series) is sharp, funny and endearing all at once. Brennan’s “Demon’s Lexicon” series showcased her ability to create the sort of characters that immediately felt like the-friends-you’d-always-wanted and throw them into a whirlwind of a plot that kept readers guessing (and gasping) up to the very last minute.
Unspoken is no different. Kami’s life has never been typical, but even if she only had to deal with her elaborate imagination, gorgeous best friend (who prefers naps to boys), and designs to take over the world (or at least reveal the seamy underbelly of the town) via a school newspaper, she would have enough to be getting on with, but Kami also has a unique voice in her life, a boy she’s grown up with but miles away from, a voice in her head.
Not even Kami is positive that this boy, Jared, is real (although he is a detailed and elaborate imaginary friend if he isn’t), and the mystery of how, why and for how long Kami will have her hidden friend is one of the many secrets in the book. But, above all of the mystery, the gothic setting, the elements of magic, this is a story about friendships and the bonds that form between people (possibly imaginary, real and all). Brennan’s previous series drew on some stellar friendships, and Unspoken features characters that would make any party a good time (assuming that there was a couch somewhere, for naps for the cranky) and have your back at all times.
Much of the strength of these friendships is communicated through humour, and Kami, with her sheer enthusiasm for life, the newspaper, and everything, will have readers laughing along. There is no one better to lead the readers on a tour of a small town that takes quirky to a new level. How could you not want to hang around?:
‘People took home copies for their parents,’ Kami announced, and did a victory dance in the privacy of her headquarters.’The photocopy machine overheated and broke down. I think I can still hear the sound of it sobbing and wanting to talk about its childhood.’ Ash leaned in the doorway, his eyes averted from the sight of Kami dancing. The dance involved flailing, brandishing of a vase of flowers, and most importantly the victory shimmy, so Kami could not really blame him.
But we hear from Jared as well, the troubled, brooding and leather-jacketed son of the Lynburn family. He struggles with what he has done, what he may do, whom he may hurt. He brings with him some of the darkness that has been hidden behind old secrets of the town (and an element of extreme cool). For all the lighthearted banter, Brennan has created a world with shadowed and darkened spaces, and when the Lynburn family returns to its ancestral home in Sorry-in-the-Vale’s, Kami unquenchable nose for a mystery leads her into trouble she can’t handle alone. In the end, Kami and Jared both rapidly find themselves, and all of their friends gathered around, delving into the sort of mysteries that could destroy families and threaten the entire town (and make readers desperate to find out what happens in book two.)