Review: Unspoken (Lynburn Legacy #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan

I love Sarah Rees Brennan. She’s one of the sharpest, funniest, most original YA authors writing today. Her excellent Demon’s Lexicon Trilogy wowed me, so of course I requested Unspoken from Netgalley as soon as I saw it in the catalog. Is Brennan a one-trilogy wonder, or will The Lynburn Legacy measure up to the dark and delightful Demon’s Lexicon? Stay tuned after the publication info for the answer!

Unspoken cover artUnspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, Book One)

by Sarah Rees Brennan

Random House Books for Young Readers, $18.99 hardcover, ISBN-13 978-0375870415, September 11, 2012

In the sleepy English village of Sorry-on-the-Vale, Kami Glass, girl reporter, has a nose for news and is intent upon turning her new position as editor of the school newspaper into a satisfying career in journalism.  Establishing a quality publication will challenge her, especially since her entire staff consists of herself and her BFF Angela, who’s only on board for the chance to nap on the faculty lounge couch during staff meetings. Unlike Angela, though, Kami relishes a challenge. Besides, she gets all the moral support a girl could want from the voice in her head.

Kami’s social cred isn’t exactly sky-high thanks to Jared, the imaginary friend whose voice she’s heard in her mind all her life. After all, having an imaginary friend is semi-normal in elementary school, but keeping him around through junior high and spacing out to have mental conversations with him in front of your real-life friends doesn’t exactly help a girl blend with her peers. Kami doesn’t care. She wouldn’t trade Jared for anything. He’s more than a best friend, he’s an important part of Kami, even if he’s not real.

Except he is.

When the mysterious Lynburn family, original denizens of Sorry-in-the-Vale, returns to town, Kami gets all the news she can handle.  Dead bodies start turning up in the woods, apparent victims of human sacrifice. Someone’s trying to kill Kami. One of the teenage Lynburn boys is beyond adorable and has a thing for Kami. Oh, yeah, and the other Lynburn boy is the presumed-imaginary Jared, a real person with whom Kami shares an inexplicable psychic link.

After a lifetime of living in each other’s thoughts, meeting in person should feel like a dream come true. Instead, it’s a nightmare. Kami finds Jared completely different in person: rude, arrogant, broody, rebellious, and infuriating. Worse, proximity amplifies their connection so that they cannot shut each other out, and direct contact creates an overwhelming maelstrom of shared emotions. Still, Kami and Jared find their friendship an impossible habit to break, and if they’re going to solve the mystery of Jared’s family and stop the killings in Sorry-in-the-Vale, they’re going to have to stand together.

Brennan knocks another one out of the park! Something of a departure from Demon’s Lexicon in concept, Unspoken winds hilarious dialogue, dark secrets, and a flood of emotional conflict into a tightly-crafted Gothic gem. The mystery and fantasy elements serve to underscore the book’s theme of personal connection and the awkwardness and pain we sometimes go through to achieve them. Brennan’s witty one-liners lighten the mood of murder and mayhem, and Brennan never pulls the focus from the relationships between the characters, especially the intense and often uncomfortable link between Kami and Jared. That’s not to say that the plot isn’t substantial; many first installments these days seem to contain so much pointless setup that one suspects the trilogy of being padded out from a standalone title, but Unspoken never commits this crime. Brennan’s book 1 can stand alone, save for the cliffhanger ending that will leave readers dissatisfied and hungry for the next book.

Sarah Rees Brennan is a bad ass. I cannot emphasize this fact enough.

Overall Rating: 4