Steph's Reviews > Unspoken

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
3192797
's review
Apr 14, 2015

did not like it
bookshelves: 2012, reviewed
Read from October 14 to 24, 2012

Edit: 11/2/12 So after reading this snippet from the sequel I will definitely not (though I doubt I would have anyway) be raising this rating to two stars. You know what I imagine closes out that scene? These are the days of our lives... Is this a soap opera or a book, guys? Guess the relationship melodrama keeps on keeping on in book two.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Unspoken really isn't as bad as some of the other one star YA books I've read this year - The Body Finder and Shadow and Bone spring to mind. There really are some redeeming moments in it, and if it hadn't been for that last chapter, I might have rated it just a little higher. Perhaps those moments of redemption are what made this book's betrayal even worse. This was a story we've heard many times before - trying to pretend it was the opposite of that thing - instead of just being honest about what it was.

Kami Glass (Malese Jow in my mind) is quick to let us know that she's not like those girls. She starts the book by disliking another girl for no apparent reason other than her popularity (Holly will be played by Candice Accola) and is called out on her internalized misogyny by the love interest in the book. That, along with the cheeky humor, had me thinking from the very first chapter: I am going to love this book. I know what you're thinking. Where could it have gone wrong when you've got Malese Jow and Candice Accola involved?

Photobucket


I like SRB, and based on reading her blog alone, I know she didn't mean to promote a bad boy type as an acceptable love interest. It's clear that she's trying to do the opposite of that here, by having Kami question and dislike their connection half the time, but here's my issue:

Why include that type of love interest at all? Why include a love triangle? Why spend so much time on romantic melodrama that you don't allow your interesting side characters to develop beyond being perky and loving napping?

This whole story feels like something I've read before. Despite SRB poking fun at these other stories in her writing she chooses to use this Twilight-esque set up that sells anyway. It almost seems worse somehow. At least these other books aren't trying to pretend that they're something superior to what they really are. Ash, the third useless point of the Kami centered love triangle, could have been copied and pasted from any YA book that follows this same formula. Possessive Jared could too.

You can't talk about this book without mentioning the humor. Bad puns and witty zingers abound. At first, it reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars, and I thought FINALLY a book that isn't taking itself too seriously and is making an effort to be witty. Yet somehow this book managed to take itself too seriously and tell too many jokes. The situations the characters found themselves in were overly dramatic and ridiculous, but they'd always manage to tell a joke anyway. All of the characters began to feel like walking... well... bloggers. I love bloggers, I am a blogger, but no one talks like this in real life all of the time. The dialogue was awkward and jarring. Instead of developing the characters beyond beating us over the head with specific traits (Kami loves investigating and she's not like those other mushy YA girls! Holly is SO nice and perky! Angela LOVES napping and HATES people! Ash likes Kami and is surly! Jared like Kami and is surly AND destructive!) jokes would just be told instead.

The last several chapters (aside from the last one) are the ones I liked at least a little. They are when the only real character development happens and things start falling into place. Kami seems to stick to her guns a lot more; I thought her feelings toward her connection with Jared were well-written toward the end. Jared never gets any more interesting or likeable but I learn to accept it. Ash is doing things besides staring longingly at Kami and randomly making out with her in hallways. Holly and Angela get a thing that isn't just a rehashing of their assigned personality traits. The plot is finally doing something relevant. I thought we were well on our way to two-star-ville.

Photobucket

Then we got to the last chapter. I knew to expect a cliffhanger-trilogy-ending (why are we still doing this?) but I didn't know that it was going to involve the relationship too. I mean, seriously? What was that? I said in the comments that it was like SRB added it just to yell "RELATIONSHIPS DRAMAZ!!! MUAHAHA!" and run out of the room to go hang out with Stephenie Meyer, and I stand by this assessment. I might readjust my rating (might) when I am feeling less... surly... and not... snarling. Seriously, what was that about Angela and Jared snarling at the end? Did we need to focus on their joint snarling? Was that supposed to be a heart-warming bonding moment? I can't.

Photobucket

I would say my favorite thing about this novel is Holly, with Angela as my second choice. Unfortunately, Angela got to be a badass at the end but instead of just letting Angela shine subtly SRB also beat us over the head with a chain and made that into an over-used joke too. While Holly didn't quite get the development that I wanted (because clearly more time needed to be spent on more love triangle and relationship drama) I did think she may be one of the few original parts of this book. It's nice to see the perky blonde girl given a chance to be the friend and not the guy-stealing-skank. There's a reason I cast her as Candice Accola in my mind - but I think TVD does it better. TVD isn't the most original idea on the block, and it's guilty of a lot of the things that this book is, but to make up for it it takes care with its characters (except Bonnie) and never pretends it's something that it's not. Unlike the YA book world TVD also isn't surrounded by hundreds of shows just like it.

Regardless, I liked that SRB explored that hating Holly because she was popular with guys wasn't acceptable, and that it wasn't her fault, and that it wasn't necessarily what she wanted. I liked her relationship with Angela, even though I feel like that was another safe swing and a miss on SRB's part. It felt like another example of this novel stepping up to the plate to be something different and then not making an effort once it got there to actually let it be something different.

I can see why so many of my friends wrote gushing reviews of this book and I'm sure others will continue to enjoy it, but personally, it just rubbed me the wrong way. I won't stop reading SRB's stuff in the future because I feel like she has the potential to write great things. She seems aware of a lot of the things being done poorly in YA today: girl on girl hate, lack of homosexual relationships and POC, girls instantly falling in love with the bad boy without questioning their feelings, etc. I want to give her points for effort for almost stepping away from the pack but she didn't, not really, and I didn't care about the characters or plot enough to overlook this fact. This had all of the potential to be great and as I said before that's probably why it was so disappointing.

Yes, this review was mostly an excuse to look at pictures of Malese Jow and Candica Accola. Thank you.
41 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Unspoken.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

10/14/2012
13.0% 4 comments
10/18/2012
30.0% "I'm really not sure how I feel about this. Half of me loves it and half of me hates it. Is that possible?"
10/19/2012
42.0% "My only hope is that by the end of this book I have a decisive opinion about it instead of a love/hate relationship." 3 comments
10/22/2012
65.0% "I can't say that I like this book as much as I want to punch it in the face. Or is it just that Jared kid I want to punch in the face? Hard to tell. Total Bad Boy Trope. You can call a pickle an apple but that doesn't make it a goddamn apple, y'all." 10 comments
02/19/2016 marked as: read
show 1 hidden update…

Comments (showing 1-26 of 26) (26 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Anna I'm sure it is—what do you love about it/hate about it?


Steph I'm not too far yet but...

Love: The humor - definitely similar to BTVS and Veronica Mars - though I think it might work a bit better in TV format. That it doesn't feel similar to any other YA I've read despite having similar qualities. Kami Glass girl detective. Kami learning from and getting called out on her desire to hate another lady simply for being popular with men.

Hate: How despite attempts to make Kami not swoony like a lot of other YA ladies (though she has more reason than them for her instant love connection to be plausible) her relationship with Jared is still incredibly melodramatic. Jared so far does not have a personality beyond Bad BoyTM. The writing feels a little jarring and the dialogue odd. Like, it feels like it's trying too hard sometimes, and I'm not convinced that they are actually characters sometimes rather than a collection of humorous one liners. I often find myself thinking no one would actually talk like that.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Stephanie (The Night Bookmobile) wrote: "I'm not too far yet but...

Love: The humor - definitely similar to BTVS and Veronica Mars - though I think it might work a bit better in TV format. That it doesn't feel similar to any other YA I'v..."


Apt comparisons about the humour, Stephanie. :) But I guess I was so caught up in the story that I didn't pause to analyze it as an assortment of hilarious one- liners, indeed.

And although I loved this book, I know many were bothered by the odd relationship between Kami and Jared; Jared's refusal to touch her, the notion of having a boy who's REAL be able to see your thoughts, and so forth. Anyhow, I look forward to the final verdict. :)


message 4: by Lisa (last edited Oct 18, 2012 03:04PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lisa Stephanie, I'm feeling the same way you are and I'm about where you are now (or as if your last update). There are elements that I love, and some of the descriptive passages are nice, but the dialogue is a little awkward. I think it's partly due to the fact that Brennan overuses dialogue tags. I just thought I'd be more invested in the story than I am.


message 5: by Steph (last edited Oct 18, 2012 03:11PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Steph I think that's not my issue with the relationship, although I can see how the concept could be viewed that way. I think there's a real opportunity to explore that sort of connection, and allow Kami (as she already is) to also feel betrayed and exposed by it, rather than running to Jared and shouting "Soul mates!" because of it like he did. I actually like that. I think that the issue is that, for me, this very cool opportunity is kind of being overshadowed by unrealistic huge things (pushed into a well and Jared tripped over his pants on the way here and now he's shirtless!, threw a rock and broke a window and the "we held hands like we never wanted to let go!" sort of writing that followed) instead of exploring it with any seriousness or allowing it to be subtle. I was so intrigued by the idea and loved Jared being in her head and in real life he's kind of being a one-dimensional bad boy douche.

But it's early yet! :)


Steph Lisa, happy to see someone on the same page as me, literally and figuratively! Oh no, now the bad joke one liners are rubbing off on me.

I think the humor (though I have laughed out loud a few times!) is kind of engulfing the characters. I like Kami. I don't want her to be a caricature.


Lisa Stephanie (The Night Bookmobile) wrote: "Lisa, happy to see someone on the same page as me, literally and figuratively! Oh no, now the bad joke one liners are rubbing off on me.

I think the humor (though I have laughed out loud a few tim..."


Ha ha. I'm glad we're on the same page too. :)

I agree about the humor. Its preventing the characters from having the kind of depth I'm looking for, but there is still time for those deeper layers to emerge.


Anna Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

That's my only possible response to giving this book one star.


Lisa Oh no. I was hoping it would turn around. Looking forward to the full review. When I'm done with it we should compare thoughts. :)


The Holy Terror Oh, I knew by your last update that you were going to hate this one. How much did you want to throw the book after reading the ending?


message 11: by Steph (new) - rated it 1 star

Steph Anna, "HAHAHAHHAHAAHAHA" is kind of a good summary for most of this book - at the expense of most of the character development.

I agree, Lisa. I have a lot of thoughts on this one so I will write it today when I have time.

THT, I was actually finding a few things I did appreciate in the chapters leading up to the last one and then the ending was like... someone thinking they were really clever and shouting "ROMANTIC DRAMAZ! MUAHAHAHA!" before running out of the room to go hang out with Stephenie Meyer. It also undid a lot of what I was growing to appreciate, at least a little bit, about Kami.


message 12: by Natalie (new) - added it

Natalie Ack! I was all excited about this one. Will wait to read until you post your review. I like to read critical ones before I decide if I can handle all the probz.


message 13: by Steph (new) - rated it 1 star

Steph You might still like it, Natalie. Seems like a lot of people were able to look past the stuff that bothered me.


message 14: by J. Danielle (new)

J. Danielle Dorn One needs no excuse to look at Malese Jow or Candice Accola but thank you for providing me with one anyway <3


message 15: by Gabrielle (new)

Gabrielle the cover reminds me of the book of lost things by john connolly


message 16: by P. (new)

P. This is a great review.
I did enjoy the book, but now after reading this, I do think that if I read the book a second time, I would not be able to ignore everything you mentioned.


message 17: by shady (new) - added it

shady Wow, first time I saw a negative review of this book. o_o I seem to remember a time where this book got 5 star review after 5 star review and everyone was shitting their pants over it.


message 18: by Steph (new) - rated it 1 star

Steph People are still shitting their pants over this book. My review is just one of many. I can see why people like it though and a lot of my friends do. That's why I included the pictures of Malese and Candice. To distract them from my hostility!


message 19: by shady (new) - added it

shady Ah, I get it. But from the points you made in your review, I think I might push this back on my TBR a little, cause I despise love triangles and douchey bad boys, especially combinations of the two. Great review, by the way!


message 21: by Steph (new) - rated it 1 star

Steph Matt wrote: ""

A+ GIF usage.


message 22: by Lisa (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lisa Stephanie, your review is beyond awesome. I'm in total agreement with everything you've written. I'm so glad we unofficially did a read-along for this one because it was your statuses and comments that helped keep me sane. :)

I don't think you're off on the Vampire Diaries casting. SRB is apparently a huge TVD fan, as evidenced by her participation in this book. (OT: I'm still bitter that they killed off Malese Jow's character.)


Lyanna (I need a Herondale in life) HELLO! I've been staring at my laptop screen for a long while now & I still can't put my finger on where I've seen that girl before (the first one), if you could kindly tell me what show that's from I WOULD BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL!!! ITS JUST THAT MOMENT WHEN YOU KNOW, IN THE SAME TIME YOU DONT its a memory tickling your mind!! ugh, thank you!


message 24: by Steph (new) - rated it 1 star

Steph Lyanna wrote: "HELLO! I've been staring at my laptop screen for a long while now & I still can't put my finger on where I've seen that girl before (the first one), if you could kindly tell me what show that's fro..."

Hi Lyanna! Malese Jow played the vampire Anna in The Vampire Diaries. She was also in The Social Network.


Lyanna (I need a Herondale in life) Steph wrote: "Lyanna wrote: "HELLO! I've been staring at my laptop screen for a long while now & I still can't put my finger on where I've seen that girl before (the first one), if you could kindly tell me what ..."

THERE WE GO! I also realised that she looked a lot like Lana from Smallville in that picture! Thank you so much! You're the best Xx


Akansha Gupta "All of the characters began to feel like walking... well... bloggers. I love bloggers, I am a blogger, but no one talks like this in real life all of the time."

Funny but true. And really, really introspective.


back to top