Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of things no one wants to talk about: the secretive Lynburn family, ritual killings, and a history of magic. But Kami Glass is no stranger to mysterious things. Since childhood she has had a boy in her head that no one believes is real. With the danger mounting, Kami is determined to unravel the mysteries of her little town.
Rating: ★★★★☆ – really liked it
Genre: young adult fiction, ya mystery, paranormal fantasy
Pros: funny, unique premise, Banter!
Cons: love triangle (ish), occasionally choppy narrative
Prior to Unspoken I had never heard of a young adult gothic novel. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the unique premise drew me. I have to say, I’m glad I gave it a chance!
The absolute best part of the book is the banter between characters. I’m a sucker for quality banter. If you are too, then you’ll be hooked on Unspoken in just a few pages.
I really appreciated the female friendships in this book. Too often in YA female friends wind up in competition somehow, and at first I expected this book to go the same way. In fact, there was a point in the beginning where I expected this book to be just another Not-Like-Other-Girls-girl irrationally hates Popular-With-The-Boys-girl book, but instead we get some character growth instead and ended up with loyal, dedicated female friends.
It was also nice to see a family that mattered in a YA book. A lot of times, the protags family is mentioned, but barely and rarely. In Unspoken, we see that Kami has a loving family, still touched by the secrets of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and the family dynamic is mercifully believable.
I loved the connection between Kami and Jared, but I didn’t like the way it kept somehow being turned into some idea that they should be romantically involved. That never did make sense to me. And, as you may have guessed, I wasn’t at all interested in the love triangle the author kept trying to create. I mostly tuned out that aspect, if I’m being honest.
Kami is of mixed ancestry, with her paternal grandmother being Japanese, and it served the story well. Kami was seen by a lot of people as a partial-outsider, in the way that small towns full of mostly white people tend to see anyone whose entire family tree isn’t rooted right there in that very ground. And there were some bits of Japanese folklore thrown in as well. Not being Japanese myself, or well-versed in Japanese folklore, I can’t say if it was done accurately, but I do think it was good for the novel.
There was a bit at the end that I won’t say too much about, because of spoilers, but it seemed highly incongruous with previous characterization and I was as stunned as Kami over it. My shock quickly gave way to anger. However, because it happened at the very last moment, and because this is only the first book in the series, I have some hope it will be explained or justified in the second book.
The paranormal aspect wasn’t as scary as I would have expected based on the character’s reactions to it, but the rest of the mystery really was quite creepy. As the book went on I found myself in the same predicament as Kami, with a reason to suspect everyone, trusting no one. And yet, for all my suspicions I didn’t quite manage to predict that ending. (Note: I don’t mean the part of the ending that I mentioned left me angry, that part is actually just one little moment, after the resolution of the mystery.)
I would recommend Unspoken to young adult fans of gothic novels or mysteries, and as previously mentioned, to anyone who is a total sucker for witty, funny banter between characters.
One of the more disappointing things, for me, was a plot point, and mostly affects the story going forward, but due to it’s spoilery nature I’m going to hide it below:
[start] I really hate the loss of the connection between Kami and Jared. It was the most interesting part of the story and I don’t see how the next book will be quite as good without it… [end]
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