Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

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There is too much banter in a lot of young adult fiction. I blame Joss Whedon. Brennan has to be a Buffy fan, you can tell it with the pointless jokes during crises, conversations that go nowhere and a group of friends who might as well be the Scooby gang.

I liked Buffy, but so many people are trying to write this way that some are bound to fail.

So. Much. Banter.

“Why are boys such a nuisance?…”

“It’s hard to say,” Kami answered. “I put it down to irresistible charm and sparkling wit and try to move on. Though the heap of suitor at my feet makes moving difficult…”

“You know guys, they only want one thing. Repartee. I can’t count how many times men have admired my well-turned phrases”.

By itself, this is funny, but the density of the banter made me read the first half of this book at an ironic distance. The problem with banter is that it slows the pace of the story and the author tends to sacrifice voice in order to tell a good joke. Everyone sounds the same. It’s hard to read when you can’t shake the author’s vision of laughing at the cleverness of their own witticisms from your subconscious.

“Aren’t you trying a little too hard to play into certain bad boy cliches?”

“Nah,” said Jared. “You’re thinking of black leather. Black leather’s for bad boys. It’s all in the color. You wouldn’t think I was a bad boy if I was wearing a pink leather jacket.”

There I was chuckling at these jokes but held off by them at the same time, when Brennan turned the tables on me. The plot picked up and the character interactions became more meaningful. The story accelerates in the second half of the book and you’ll try to read it faster in order to keep up with it.

Kami lives in the Cotswolds and her life is fairly normal until the Lynburns return. That is, as normal as things can get when as a teenager you have an imaginary friend that you talk to in your head. She’s been talking to the same boy in her head since she was little and has learned to hide it (mostly).

She also grew up hearing tales about the family who lived in the mansion on the hill, how they owned half the town, how they stuck together, how things seemed to happen around them. When she meets Jared Lynburn, she realizes that her imaginary friend might not be so imaginary after all.

All together this was a fun fantasy that will surprise you, entertain you, and wallop you over the head with emotions. Banter away.

Goodreads rating: 3 stars

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

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