Thursday, September 12, 2013
ARC Review: Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan
Title: Untold (Lynburn Legacy, #2)
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Rating: 3 Stars
Release Date: September 24th, 2013
In retrospect, Untold is an extraordinarily boring novel. Unspoken was a novel I loved inexplicably; just because it was whimsical and amusing and magical and I could. With Untold, however, my feelings are far more mixed. On one hand, this novel delivered exactly what I wanted it to, but on another, I found myself left with an intangible wanting.
What Brennan has always excelled at - ever since the release of her debut - is capturing the personality behind the shells her characters wear. Kami, especially, truly blooms in this installment. Without her link to Jared, she is suddenly forced to face her deepest fears and secret hopes - alone. Moreover, her once-perfect family suddenly cracks under the pressure of magic as truths come spilling out. For me, the highlight of this novel lies in seeing Kami come to believe in herself, all while retaining her characteristic flair. I also really loved her interactions with her parents. Kami, as a half-Japanese character, is treated as such and the background on her parents, not to mention the close ties between her siblings, is written so deftly, weaving this family both together and apart.
Untold would be nothing, though, without its secondary characters. Brennan truly delves into the mindset of Kami's friends, making their lives and troubles just as real for us as Kami's. Yet, where this concept falters is in its execution. While I've come away from Untold truly understanding the layers behind characters such as Angela, Holly, or Ash, beyond adding more depth to the story, their perspectives did little. Ultimately, the relationships between these secondary characters has progressed very little. I surmise that - hopefully - we'll see them play a much greater role in Unbroken and all the backstory Brennan has written will finally come into play, but with this installment, it's rather useless.
I find that the issue with Untold lies there. Its plot is so very loose and flimsy. It's meant to be centered around Kami learning to fight back against the sorcerers, but it's composed of conversation, drama, and tension. It's certainly enjoyable, but it lacks a certain tightness to its motivations that its predecessor possessed. Moreover, I desperately longed for more; more about the magic of the Lynburns, more about Rob than just a facade of black-and-white evil, more of the classic atmosphere that Sorry-in-the-Vale possessed in Unspoken. Just...more.
(Just Jared!) You didn't think I'd end this review without mentioning Jared or Rusty, did you? ;) Rusty, as always, is a delight with his laugh-out-loud dialogue and hidden depths - which still remain hidden. Jared, however, becomes ever more real as the novel progresses. I love the few glimpses we're given into his mind - heart-breaking, but necessary - and am really impressed by the moral ambiguity associated with this character. His affection for Kami is no secret, but neither is his desire for the link, which puts him in an ironic situation. Furthermore, Brennan brings up another level of interest as she forces us to question whether Jared would be Jared without Kami in his head. It's interesting, merely because Jared is so very fixated upon Kami and does contain his own dark patches. He really does steal the show whenever he turns up on the page, though, and I really love that both he and Kami retain their own auras, despite their tight bond.
Ultimately, I can't say that Untold shows much plot progression, but it's entertaining nevertheless. I both love and hate that there's such a strong focus on character development in this novel, only because much of it failed to have much direction, but Brennan manages to keep us riveted with her every word and it's physically painful to leave behind these characters as we leave our hearts behind too. Untold isn't one of Brennan's best works, but it'll keep you coming back for more. (What? You thought Brennan wouldn't write another cliffhanger? You naive reader...you're in for a shock with these last few pages. And we thought Unspoken was bad... *shakes head*)