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Monday, September 9, 2013

“Untold” by Sarah Rees Brennan (Reviewed by Casey Blair)

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Sarah Rees Brennan has had me since I read her Demon's Lexicon trilogy, and I cannot wait to read absolutely anything she writes. Untold is the second installment of her YA urban fantasy series The Lynburn Legacy, and for it to make any sense you really need to read the first book (which I highly recommend).

In Unspoken, Kami learned that Jared, the voice in her head, was actually a real person, and the two of them had to come to grips with actually physically being in each other's presence and not being imaginary at all. They didn't come to grips very effectively, and SPOILER ALERT now that their sorcerous bond has been severed, they're having to try to come to grips with that, too. And not doing a bang-up job of the communication thing when not in each other's heads.

The Lynburn Legacy series is set in the small town of Sorry in the Vale, and Kami is the intrepid girl reporter, determined and nosy and charming in her awkwardness. She was determined to uncover an interesting secret until she found that there's an ancient, horrible one, and now she's just as determined to deal with it. I love how wacky she is, I love that she never lets anyone tell her no without an explanation—and if she accepts that, then she still won't quit, just adapt—and above all I love how active she is as a character. Exhaustingly active, though not quite as exhausting in this book as she was in the first one.

There is significantly more teen melodrama in Untold than its predecessor, with more tension created by misunderstandings between characters. This works thematically, in terms of our characters' ability to understand each other when they're no longer sharing the same brain space, but I wanted for there to be a more compelling conflict keeping characters apart than not talking to each other. Because the focus was on their relationships, the climax happened suddenly and while it was completely action-packed, it didn't take most of those developments into account at all.

It must be said that when problems fall out in SRB novels, her characters never have an easy time getting out of them, and they're pretty much guaranteed to have to do something unthinkable. With this series SRB is all about giving a huge emotional punch in the climax that is too big to be resolved in the denouement. At the end of chapter 25 I actually stopped breathing. SRB's humor literally makes me laugh out loud, which goes a long way towards getting through the incredible tension she's built.

If you want to get a taste of this series before jumping in, check out the two free prequel short stories available on her website HERE.

NOTE: September 24, 2013 marks the North American Hardcover publication of Untold via Random House Books for Young Readers. The UK edition was published on August 29, 2013 by Simon & Schuster Children’s Books.

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