Buka's Reviews > Unspoken

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
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Oct 01, 12

bookshelves: reviewed, thanks-but-no-thanks
Read in September, 2012

My relationship with Sarah Rees Brennan's books is like a see-saw. I liked Demon's Lexicon but was annoyed by Demon's Covenant, I really liked Team Human (written with Justine Larbaleister) and - once again - was really annoyed by Unspoken. This is Sara Rees Brennan of Demon's Covenant and everything irritating that I remember about it is here again.
It's one more book where everything - characters, pacing, plot, mood - can and will be sacrificed in order to deliver at least one more witty one-liner. And, unlike Team Human (which, I think, had even less jokes), this is not a satire. At least, nobody seems to think so. I checked.

So here I am, staring at a page full of gushing 5 and 4-star reviews, wondering is there something wrong with me? I mean, I like humor. One of my very favourite fantasy authors (she's Russian, so I don't shelve her books here on Goodreads) writes mostly humorous novels. I love heroes who are not all about aaangst and serious bsns. But as for Unspoken, well... for instance, I don't think Kami's father had said a single sentence that didn't have a joke in it.
A mother leaves her daughter alone in bed with a boy for the whole night and doesn't even check on them - all so they can be caught in the morning by the father which results in a whole torrent of witticisms. Am I only one who sees problems with that whole scenario? Or, a more spoilery one: (view spoiler)

One more really annoying fact about Unspoken is how awfully convenient it was when author needed it. You know that mystery novels where everything is neatly solved because the criminal left a huge incriminating piece of evidence right at the crime scene? Unspoken is one of these stories. Our supposedly hyperactive and nosy main girl - the self-appointed investigator - not pursuing a couple of leads that were dangled in front of her for days? I just can't buy it. Or (view spoiler)

I really wanted to like this book. I love "telepatically speaking to each other" idea. In fact, I wish, there were more about it in the book. But it seems, for every good thing Unspoken has going for it, there are a couple of bad or annoying ones. It's a page-turner that turns anticlimatic in the end. It's all about girl power and her deciding for herself. Yep, and rather than shown, it's shouted at you IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS.
I told myself: look, self, it's so funny! So humorous, it's humorous even in serious moments, epic moments, creepy moments which often promptly felt pompous, small-scale or nothing special because, you know, funny can do that to a scene.
But, argued self, but it defies some tried to death genre conventions, like "mystical karmic connection = soulmates". And it also has a Love Triangle of Doom, a Tortured Hero and "oh no, there is no way he loves me, even though everything is pointing to it".

I don't know if I'll read the sequel, although the cliff-hanger in the end will do it's damnedest to make sure you'll do. Right now I don't really want to but, judging by my luck with Sarah Rees Brennan's books, I'm bound to like the next one.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana From my experience, a lot of authors who come from fanfiction suffer from this either too much banter or too much angst problem. I feel like when they use someone else's characters and create various angst-/banter-filled scenarios for the fans of these existing characters, it works. In the original works though such approach comes across as trying-too-hard and gimmicky. IMO.


Buka Yes, angst and humor is not everything that makes a character a person.

What's interesting, there was no overabundance of humor in Demon's Lexicon - her first novel. At least as far as I remember. Maybe readers liked her sense of humor, so she started using it more, or maybe she simply had more time to work on the book then. Sometimes all these jokes did divert me from plot holes.


message 3: by stephanie (new) - added it

stephanie i agree with [person: tatiana]. and also with this whole review. i was not a huge demon's lexicon trilogy fan, mostly because i didn't care about the characters, who all seemed to be sacrificed for a plot or witty one-liner. i probably won't be running out to read this one, which makes my to read list a lot easier! ;)


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