by Sami Mae
Title: Unspoken: The Lyburn Legacy
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Publication Date: September 11, 2012
For the sake of full disclosure, it should be noted that I almost didn’t read this book. It sounded so corny. Telepathy has been overdone. Truthfully, I only read this book because of my faith in Sarah Reese Brennan.
Oh boy, she didn’t disappoint.
As per usual, Rees Brennan’s book surpassed my expectations. Armed with a diverse cast and her distinctive snarky wit, she tells the story of Kami, an odd girl who wants to be a journalist and hears voices in her head. Well, just one voice, really. And when Kami’s imaginary friend Jared turns out to be real, and proceeds to disrupt her standard high school routine by moving back into the Lyburn house with an entirely-too-real family, Kami is none too thrilled.
A real joy in reading this book is the relationship that slowly developed between Kami and Jared. When she first sees him, Kami is so angry. His very existence is a betrayal. She told all of her secrets to the voice in her head, and then, he suddenly appears in her life, completely capable of using those secrets against her. And she is forced to trust him in new ways.
Jared, meanwhile, is completely shocked that he’s not the nutcase he thought he was. He is even more confused about how to be friends with someone.
Each is bewildered as to how to deal with each others’ newfound physicality. This isn’t Insta-love. You do not need to just add bodies for sparks to fly. There is a distinct possibility that these two may end up as close friends and nothing more. Combine dynamics like this with spooky woodland happenings and you have yourself one heck of a book. This book, actually.
Now, let’s praise this thing a bit more. It was pointed out to me recently that Kami was a secondary character. Now, don’t get me wrong, in Unspoken Kami is very much our heroine, and the majority of the novel is told from her point of view. What I mean by that bewildering statement, is that, in any other novel, Kami would have been one of the protagonist’s friends. Sometimes weird and always unconventional, Kami would have been the character to push the main character into doing whatever was necessary. Kami is the quirky best friend in every other YA novel — the one you sometimes wish was the main character. But in this novel, Kami is the focus. She isn’t shy and unsure of herself in the beginning. She doesn’t “find her inner courage.” She never has to be encouraged to investigate, Ms. Rees Brennan lets her take the lead in her own adventure. It’s so unusual to find this is a new book. While I enjoy coming-of-age stories, they seem to have taken over. But in this one, Kami never lets that happen.
Of course, the rest of the cast isn’t neglected. Kami has an entire life before Jared comes along. The relationships between her and her best friend Angela and with her father, mother, and little brothers is skillfully handled. Jared’s family likewise plays an important part in the mystery surrounded them.
Overall, this book is wonderful. It’s hilarious and compelling in turn, and definitely one of the best things I read in 2012.
Order Unspoken from Book Passage.