It wouldn’t be physically possible for me to love Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unspoken more than I do. I know that statement sounds rife with hyperbole*, but it’s not. Unspoken is such a perfect amalgam of Things I Love that it may as well have been written with me in mind. I have absolutely no doubt it’ll make my Favorite Books of the Year list this December.
Does it feature a hilariously quick-witted girl detective? Check. Who’s EITHER psychically linked to a guy she’s never met OR has been hallucinating said guy’s voice for the entirety of her 17 years? Check. Who has a crabby, drop-dead beautiful best friend who just wants the boys to leave her alone so she can take naps? Check. Is it set in a supposedly idyllic (but secretly creepy) British town? Check. With Gothic undertones? Check. That rapidly become overtones? Check.
Check. Check. Check check check check check.
Read the latest Bookshelves of Doom on Kendare Blake’s Girl of Nightmares.
Kami is a less prickly Veronica Mars with a bigger family and a larger circle of friends. She’s believable, in that her natural curiosity gets her into lots of trouble—and pushed down a well, of all things!—but she doesn’t delay in calling the police when it seems necessary. She’s well-versed in self-defense, but she isn’t a superhero. But beyond her humor, her brains, her joie de vivre and her vim, she is—as are all of her friends—hugely likeable. When I finished reading, I was depressed for days because not only was the book over, but the long, long, loooong wait for Book Two had begun.
My love was immediate: By the time I hit the second page, I’d already laughed out loud twice. That auspicious beginning wasn’t a fluke, as I giggled all the way through the book. This was due mostly to the dialogue, which is consistently, wonderfully funny:
“So I was looking through websites about animal sacrifice on the Internet,” Kami announced to distract herself. “Apparently it’s a feature in Satanic rituals.”
“Wow,” Rusty remarked, his voice slightly muffled. “I sure hope this conversation continues over dinner.”
But it’s also due to Brennan’s blink-and-you-might-miss-a-joke hilarious narration:
Holly grinned back and hugged her books to her chest. Ross Phillips stopped in his tracks, obviously wishing he was a biology textbook.
It isn’t, however, all laughs! It’s also hugely creepy—in terms of atmosphere and storyline—and swoonworthily romantic. The romance isn’t simplistic, though, as a telepathic connection is very definitely a double-edged sword. But the tension, the darkness and even the romance are always tempered by the humor. Well, except at the very end of the book.
In regards to that ending, a note to Sarah Rees Brennan: Because you wrote this book that I loved so very, very much, I will love you forever. However, because you also gave this book that I loved so very, very much a SHOCKINGLY PAINFUL ENDING, I would kick you if you were sitting next to me right now.
In a nice way.