Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 13th September 2013
Read In: February 2013
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Kami Glass is in love with someone she's never met - a boy the rest of the world is convinced is imaginary. This has made her an outsider in the sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, but she doesn't complain. She runs the school newspaper and keeps to herself for the most part - until disturbing events begin to happen. There has been screaming in the woods and the dark, abandoned manor on the hill overlooking the town has lit up for the first time in 10 years. The Lynburn family, who ruled the town a generation ago and who all left without warning, have returned. As Kami starts to investigate for the paper, she finds out that the town she has loved all her life is hiding a multitude of secrets- and a murderer- and the key to it all just might be the boy in her head. The boy who everyone thought was imaginary may be real...and he may be dangerous.
There were elements that I did like, especially where they were non-stereotypical YA. However I struggled to get into the story.
‘Kami had been hearing a voice in her head all her life. When she was eight, people had thought it was cute that she had an imaginary friend. It was very different now that she was seventeen. Kami was accustomed to people thinking she was crazy.’
The relationship between Kami and Jared is complex; having known each other all their lives but not actually believing the other was real. To suddenly discover that they are real, that would mess with your mind. They know each other and yet they don’t know each other. I liked watching their relationship develop.
What are the Lynburns? What is their past? What made this book more interesting is not even Jared, the male lead, knows what is going on. Normally the male leads are the ones with all the answers. It was nice both of them discovering things together. Especially since Jared is a Lynburn.
Unspoken has two diversions from the typical YA I read. One, it is set in England rather than America. I picked up the book waiting to discover what area of American it will be set only to find is based in a fictional English town. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is Unspoken set in England but it is set in the Cotswolds, a quaint, typical English countryside. While I grew up in the south east, close to London, my family originated from these areas. While I am not the sort that enjoys visiting small villages in the middle of nowhere, I have frequently been to Bath and occasionally Gloucester. Getting back to my roots. I liked this change in setting. Very rarely do I read a book set in England and normally they are set in London.
Secondly, the main character, Kami, is of Asian descent. Asian and other characters of foreign descent are slowly becoming more common place in YA but normally they are secondary. To have the main heroine as Asian is definitely a nice change. There is even a picture of an Asian model on the UK cover.
Unfortunately, while there were parts I liked, there were parts I couldn’t get into. I struggled sometimes to get inside the head of Kami. I think this was partially due to the way it was written. It is written in third person but quiet distantly. We don’t get much of her thoughts which I would have preferred. Just thoughts aimed at Jared. Scenes that involve people getting hurt felt a bit distant as well. Kami and some of the other character felt a bit too so-so about certain situations. Someone tries to her kill her friend. This is a big deal. Doesn't feel like it.
Another thing I struggled with was getting absorbed in the story. While I found the mystery somewhat interesting, the plot jumps around. While this could be considered fast paced, I felt it was too fast. A new scene would crop up and I wasn’t sure how if flowed with the previous one. I kept losing my sense of what was happening.
While I felt this book had great potential it unfortunately didn’t cut it for me. Unable to connect with the characters or plot, I struggled especially towards the end. I wanted to like it but I couldn’t. It was ok overall.