Monday, June 10, 2013

'"A green girl in the woods just kissed me, " he announced furiously. "What is wrong with the world?"'

4.5 out of 5 stars

I love this book, I really do, but my first thought upon finishing the first chapter was: Are teenagers today really so well-acquainted with such ready wit and pert comebacks? Because I know I sure as hell wasn't when I was that age. Wit would come slouching over to me, fifteen minutes or more after I needed it, and grudgingly provide me with a spot-on reply, though, of course, by that time I no longer needed one. Wit and I were not the greatest of friends; we were barely acquaintances. My second thought upon finishing the first chapter was: Unspoken will appeal to fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Oh, not because Unspoken contains vampires, demons, or any other such things (though there are sorcerers), but because of the dialog, that wit I mentioned above, and the interplay between the characters. Kami and her compatriots are the new Scooby gang.

I've had a hard time putting my thoughts into words for this review. (A really hard time: I read this book back in September and I'm finally putting the finishing touches to this review here in January.) So I'm going to resort to my old “what I liked, what I didn't like” method.

What I Liked:
Kami – She's lived with the voice of a boy in her head since she was a baby. She could've easily been a very melodramatic, swoony character, or bland and spineless, much like other female PNR YA heroines. Instead Kami was awesome. She didn't care that she was an outcast and the fact that she spoke to a voice in her head didn't keep her from making friends, running the school newspaper, and generally behaving as though she's perfectly normal – it's everyone else who suffers from the lack of a voice in their head. As a character, Kami's a cross between Buffy (I swear, I don't mean to keep bringing Buffy up, but, believe me, she works!) and Lois Lane: She's so determined to solve the mystery behind the Lynburn family and their history with Sorry-in-the-Vale, she's sometimes runs straight into danger, confident that her wit and intellect will let her get out of any peril.

The Scooby gang – Kami's best friend, Angela, is a sarcastic, lazy individual, who will sprawl out on any flat surface (or even not-so-flat) in order to take a nap. In fact, she prefers napping to any kind of action. Yet, when Kami needs her, Angela is there to help, usually unwillingly, usually with a smart-aleck comment, yet, regardless, she shows up. Angela's older brother, Rusty, acts rather like Kami's older brother as well. Just as lazy as Angela, and just as unwilling to fly into action, he's also just as ready to defend Kami should she need a knight in shining armor... even though Kami is perfectly willing to act as her own knight in shining armor and fusses under Rusty's protection.

Holly – Though technically part of the Scooby gang, she deserves particular mention. Initially drawn as your typical beautiful, buxom air-head, she soon puts everyone in their place, including Kami, by demonstrating that she's more aware of how people perceive her than those people might believe. She also demonstrates that she has more depths to her character than expected. Holly turns out to be one of Kami's best friends and staunchest allies.

Damn near everything else - The story, the writing, the plot, the pacing, the modern take on the Gothic theme. Even the veddy British aspect of the novel.

What I Didn't Like:
Jared's reaction to Kami – ***SPOILER ALERT***  When Jared finally meets Kami and figures out she's the voice he's been hearing in his head at the same time Kami discovers Jared is the boy she's been hearing in her head, his antagonism towards her is slightly understandable (after all, seeing in reality what you've only dealt with in your imagination has to be slightly jarring) but afterward, though he grudgingly behaves in a friendly manner towards her, he has this thing about her not touching him. Every time she does, on purpose or accidentally, he recoils away from her as though her touch burns him.  ***END SPOILER***  It's a reaction I don't particularly understand and as the novel goes on, it's a reaction which becomes rather old after a while. However, since this is just about the only thing about the book which vexes me, I really can't complain too loudly.

In the end, I truly adored this book. However, it won't be to everyone's taste, I'd imagine. Personally, between the wit, the characterizations, and the British atmosphere, I'm not sure which appeals to me more. This is one time I'm glad a recently released book is not a stand-alone but is part of a series: I can't wait for the next book!

Read September 14-18, 2012
Reviewed for the Amazon Vine Program January 5, 2013

1 comment:

  1. Does the author ever explain Jared's reaction to Kami's touch? Sounds like a way that someone who feels violated would react.

    I've worked with a lot of middle school age children (haha - they aren't really children) over the last few years and they have amazing wit. I totally understand your question about this, though. I'm still one of those people who think of things long after I wish I would have thought a response. But my own children, and many of the kids I work with are pretty quick on the 'witty repartee', and can definitely hold their own in banter.

    Sounds like an interesting book - hope the rest of the dialog isn't too grown up. I don't like when young adults or children read like lawyers or professors. :)