Friday, May 11, 2012

Telepathy & Feminism

Gothic novel. Creepy, small England town. Humor. Hot, new guys who live in a mansion. Magic. Fast pace. All of these elements are part of Sarah Rees Brennan's upcoming novel Unspoken.

Unspoken is the first book in a series, though I'm unsure how many books this series is meant to contain. So many amazing elements, and it continues --

First of all, yes, this means that when the novel ends, the story feels uncompleted. And yes, it ends right on a spot where your mouth hangs open in protest, and you feebly attempt to prevent expletives from spewing forth from your lips, because you unwisely decided to read the end of the novel in public (or under your desk at school, or under your desk at work, or on the bus).

Secondly, the atmosphere and environment of the novel, while very evocative of the English countryside, is not really very eerie and menacing. It has many allusions to gothic literature, though, and handles some of the issues that gothic literature present in an intelligent, well-informed matter.

At the crux of this novel is the relationship between Kami Glass and Jared Lynburn, who have had a psychic connection since birth. Other people have imaginary friends; Kami and Jared have an invisible imaginary friend who doesn't go away. And then they meet, and discover that this psychic connection has been with a real person all along - a boon and a nightmare.

It sounds like soulmates, right? But it really wouldn't be a fun thing to live with. And Kami Glass staunchly opposes the idea that she and Jared are "meant" to be together merely because there is a link between them that isn't easily explained.

This novel builds on gothic influences in a fast-paced manner, while at the same time, making sure not to fall into the traps that are in gothic literature. Violence, while in the novel, is not touted as something inescapable and attractive, and the girls in the novel are just as smart and strong as the boys.

So many things in this novel were done right - but this novel still isn't the powerful tour-de-force I was hoping to read.

The flaws? Might simply come down to expectations. This novel was very humorous, with all of the characters exhibiting the same sense of humor that can be seen in the author's livejournal and twitter posts. Brennan's ability to meld two unlike things together in a jarring yet hilarious simile is spectacular, and at least caused me to smile, if not literally laugh out loud.

Yet when I hear the words "gothic novel," I don't expect to giggle my way through the work. I expect to become enmeshed in another world - a frightening world filled with delicious imagery and beautiful writing. Unspoken is a fun, fast-paced read, with thriller elements - but I don't think it quite reaches the slight insanity of a gothic novel.

My verdict: not a bad read. A good beach read. Did leave me wanting to read the next novel.

No comments: