Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Buy the book on Amazon
Buy the book on Amazon
Binge-reading YA books like I did this summer means that, over time, I started to notice patterns in stories. Eventually, I became a caricature of myself, predicting plot twists and love interest drama with the cynical air of an old lady yelling at crazy kids to get off their lawn/start making out already. That metaphor was doomed before it began, but you see what I mean. And then, once in a while, a book comes along that knocks me out of that generic YA slump - a book that actually makes me feel something. For me, that book was Unspoken.
I'd like to make it clear straight up that the summary of this book is a little bit misleading. From that; it's easy to glean that it's just a simple love story about a boy and a girl who can hear each others' voices in their minds. Only it's really dissecting a common paranormal YA trope of violated privacy; and I love Sarah Rees Brennan for being unafraid to show just how creepy that can be. Kami, the main character, is seen as crazy for her defense of this imaginary friend who's always talking to her in her mind; and when he's revealed to be real, things only get worse, not romantic. Imagine for a second that there was a person who could see into your mind - a person who knew all your terrible thoughts and deepest secrets. Brennan's message is effective, but simple: nobody should have that kind of power over anyone else.
You'd think that, with such a serious overall message, this book would be heavy; but another reason I loved it so much - and was so torn up over the emotional, angsty stuff - was how funny it actually was. Kami, the narrator, is hilarious; and more than once I had to read a sassy line or a joke to whatever poor soul happened to be sitting next to me while being like "guys, this is so funny, you should totally read this book!" The cast of supporting characters is also stellar - Brennan goes to great lengths to set up a gang of friends so that even when adventures turn dark; someone can spit out a sassy one-liner that perfectly encapsulates the situation.
Although I would highly recommend Unspoken (and the sequel comes out at the end of this month, so yay!), I would like to caution against one thing: the ending is...interesting. And by interesting I mean there isn't really any sort of resolution; and it left me kind of emotionally destroyed. Because Brennan really makes you care about her characters...and then tears your heart to shreds in the best and worst ways possible. So don't say I didn't warn you.
But yeah; overall, if you like snarky narrators, well-rounded supporting characters, a great setting, mystery and intrigue, and, of course, hot, mysterious dudes with brooding personalities, go read Unspoken.