Book Review: Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan
Getting my hands on an ARC of Untold was bittersweet. On the one hand, I was dying to know what happens next to Kami, Jared, Ash and the rest of their crew. On the other hand, I know that Sarah Rees Brennan loves to create the kind of turmoil that puts her readers in emotional purgatory between books.
So I would say I was Jessie-Spano-on-pills excited to read this.
Was I right to be scared? Yeah, pretty much. SRB is very much like one of her evil Lynburn sorcerers, but instead of blood powering her, it is her readers’ broken hearts and tears that fuel her. The ending leaves us in a lurch, and no amount of Kami’s problem-solving pluckiness makes up for it. I suppose expecting the worst of the ending softened its impact somewhat, but it’s still going to be a painful wait for book three.
So we’ve established outright that the ending will be painful, now you might be wondering about the rest of it. I enjoyed the overall experience, but I would say Untold suffered a bit from second book syndrome. Not much happens in this installment, though just enough to leave us in another protracted state of discomfort, of course. The evil big bad guy sets a deadline for his evil doings early in the novel, and the people of Sorry-on-the-Vale choose to align with him or the good guys at a leisurely pace, giving us plenty of time to watch friendship and romantic angst develop in Kami’s circle of friends. It sort of felt like I was reading a mini contemporary YA novel sandwiched into a paranormal story frame, and on that front, it was a success. The thing is, I do SO enjoy watching Kami and her friends run around Sorry-on-the-Vale trying to foil impending evil with a Scooby Doo style wackiness and disregard for danger, that it’s hard for me to care too much that nothing really happens.
In spite of the lack of action and cruel ending, my love for the characters was even more fierce by the end of the book. Ash stepped it way up in this installment. I didn’t have a very clear picture of him after Unspoken (or perhaps he just got overshadowed by Jared), and now he is a three dimensional character I understand and can sympathize with. Holly and Angela’s friendship/relationship drama was interesting and well done, and Rusty, possibly the most cartoonish of the good guys, actually stepped up and did some “look at me, I’m a real character!” things. The highlight of this book is (and I suspect always will be) Kami and Jared, and their strange relationship. I think my BFF love for Kami has surpassed even my own expectations. She is so dauntless and plucky and resilient—no matter what danger she faces, she is a good reporter, a better friend, and a heroine I love to root for. Jared’s brooding personality and slightly wrong-side-of-the-tracks edge is always attractive, but in this book he overcomes quite a lot of the last book’s damage to his book boyfriend-worthiness.
Speaking Jared and all things sexy, this book succeeds marvelously in the sexy times department! Jared and Kami begin the book totally avoiding looking at each other, and there’s SO much painful angst and awkwardness, you will likely be checking your watch and asking yourself how there can possibly be sexiness in this book. Well there is a LOT of kissing, and most of it is emotional and hot. Whatever ship you’re rooting for, never fear, there is probably something juicy for you in this book.
By the cruel, cruel end, we are set up for what I hope will be an exciting, danger-filled finale with more of the whimsical humor I’ve come to expect and love in all Brennan’s stories. Even though she rips at my heartstrings viciously, and meanders a bit with her plots, her characters always blaze their way into my heart, so sticking with them is pretty much a foregone conclusion once I’ve begun their stories. I eagerly (and painfully) await the next installment of the Lynburn Legacy.