A modern, magical twist on the Gothic Romance and Girl Detective genres, this book will appeal to fans of both Beautiful Creatures and the Mortal Instruments series. Reviewers have praised the take-charge heroine and the romantic premise of a partner who can read your mind.
Kami Glass is in love with someone she’s never met—a boy she’s talked to in her head since she was born. This has made her an outsider in the sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, but she has learned ways to turn that to her advantage. Her life seems to be in order, until disturbing events begin to occur. There has been screaming in the woods and the manor 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. Now Kami can see that the town she has known and loved all her life is hiding a multitude of secrets—and a murderer. The key to it all just might be the boy in her head. The boy she thought was imaginary is real, and definitely and deliciously dangerous.
This should tell you something about how great this novel is–I’ve reread it twice now and I still can’t get it off my mind. And with all of the books I roll through, that is saying something. Unspoken is a novel that is an utter delight to read, and one that you will find yourself coming back to reread over and over again. It’s that good.
The novel centers around a girl named Kami Glass who lives in Sorry-in-the-Vale and has an imaginary friend that she can speak with in her head. At least everyone thinks Jared is imaginary–including Kami–until he pops up in town.
Kami, our intrepid girl-reporter heroine, can’t let a mystery go unsolved and she recruits not just Jared, but her friends Angela, Holly, and Jared’s cousin Ash to help. Brennan has fun with the conventions of the gothic romance, at times deliberately turning these tropes on their heads to better serve the narrative she’s creating. You’ll see nods to Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, not to mention other gothic romances (Rees Brennan is a fan).
What makes the book sparkle is Brennan’s voice: at turns snarky, eloquent, lush, and heartbreaking. Her characters are fully realized human beings, ones that do stupid things, that hurt each other, that protect each other. Kami’s best friend Angela is beautiful, but she’s so much more than that and in Brennan’s capable hands she is more than just the sum of her well put together parts. Jared, as the bad boy, is more than just brooding eyes and a leather jacket (and motorcycle!). Brennan’s strength comes from making us believe that we could run into Kami on a trip to the market, or that we’ll pass Jared zipping past us at insane speeds on the highway.
The story moves slowly, so if you are in it expecting big reveals at the end of every chapter then be prepared for different pacing than you’re used to. The mystery of the Lynburn family and their connection to Sorry-in-the-Vale unfolds at its own pace so Brennan can build the gothic atmosphere that she so clearly enjoys and ratchet up the tension. When she does give the story its head, it grabs the bit between its teeth and doesn’t let go until the end. The final chapters fly by and the resolution (what there is of it) sets up the conflict for the second novel.
I won’t spoil the ending, but it is harsh, which makes the story even lovelier. There isn’t the final liplock and fade to black like in the movies. If you’ve come to care about the characters, it will wreck you. This series is going to make the mains work for their happy ending–if SRB decides to ever give them one.
My rating system: I love Jennifer Lawrence. She just seems reliably cool and like she’d be fun to go get a drink with and scam on the guys in the bar. Even after winning her Academy Award, she just seemed so down to earth in interviews–making weird faces, cussing, admitting she’s starstruck. So she’s my imaginary BFF.
I give Unspoken five Jennifer Lawrences.