Kami had never wanted to do anything but these two things: discover truth and change the world.
Until I picked up Team Human for book club last month, I’d never read a Sarah Rees Brennan novel. Clearly this was a grave oversight on my part.
Unspoken is a wonderfully unique gothic young adult novel (that’s also—arg!—the first in a series) centered around Kami Glass and her friends in the English village of Sorry-in-the-Vale as they attempt to unravel the mystery behind the Lynburn family, who has recently return after years abroad.
As long as Kami can remember she’s had an imaginary friend, Jared, who she hears in her head. Except it turns out he’s very real.
I will admit, I was nervous about the premise behind Unspoken—I’m not a fan of the soulmates/deep, unexplain connection trope, especially in YA.
But Brennan takes that concept, the inexplicable connection, and turns it into something fresh. Jarden and Kami’s connection means that they are intimately a part of one another, but that doesn’t mean it’s not awkward and that awkwardness is heightened when they connect in real life. Jared is also an angry teenage boy. His life has been difficult, so being his friend in real-life isn’t that easy for Kami.
In fact, Kami and Jared’s connection, and the challenges in negotiating having one another literally each other’s heads, is the most fascinating aspect of Unspoken. Their relationship is different from anything I’ve read in a YA novel. There’s really not any romance to speak of in this book, despite some of the blurbs that mention it being romantic-slash-swoony. It’s more complex than romance, and oddly closer. Kami, who tries her best to plan and be a smart girl, sees their connection as intrusive, yet at times also comforting. Jared, on the other hand, views Kami’s voice in his head as a lifeline out of his troubled family.
And, the contrast between the two makes this all the more interesting. Jared is a bit of a disaster, sort of emotionally stupid and oddly shy. Then we’ve got Kami, who’s all full of confidence and sass and though she’s not the most emotionally intelligent person, she’s pretty good at keeping it all together as well as a teenage girl who fancies herself a hard-hitting investigative journalist can.
A serious journalist should probably not make so many jokes, but whenever Kami sat down to the computer it was as if the jokes were already there, hiding behind the keys, waiting to spring out at her.