Review: Untold

UntoldTitle: Untold
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Genres: Mystery, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 367
Publisher: Random House
Review Copy: Borrowed from roommate
Availability: On shelves now

Summary: It’s time to choose sides… On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and power. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways.

But Rob and his followers aren’t the only sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be? —(Summary and image from Goodreads)

Review: Untold is officially my favorite of Sarah Rees Brennan’s books. Normally the second book in a trilogy drives me crazy because it feels as if the entire thing is only functioning as a bridge between books one and three, but Untold handles the fallout of Unspoken by providing our heroine and her friends with concrete goals, things to do, and a strict deadline. (Or rather, our heroine refuses to be sidelined by Lillian and takes matters into her own hands, despite being outnumbered, outgunned, and totally having difficulties in the romance department.)

One of the things I appreciated most about Untold is the widening of the world. There are several more points of view in this book than book one, and these points of view not only allow a reader to check up on various characters’ emotional states (hint: there’s a lot of heartbreak everywhere) but they also allow us to get new perspectives on familiar characters. I particularly enjoyed seeing how Ash views both Lillian and Jared, but I wish that we had gotten more from Holly. Holly’s plotline was one of the biggest surprises for me, and I’m excited about the possibilities she will bring to the narrative in book three. Angela could have used more screen time as well.

There were many other characters with expanded roles who didn’t get points of view. Rusty was one of them, but I think I enjoyed the drama going on with Kami’s parents the most. Too often in YA series the parents are inexplicably absent, and I loved seeing how her parents handled (or didn’t handle) the mess that Sorry-in-the-Vale was becoming. Terrible as it is to say, I was pleased to see the family start falling apart—there should be consequences for secrets and the betrayal of trust! Considering what happens at the end of the book, I’m hoping for a lot more fallout in this area in book three. I also found myself enjoying Lillian this time around, though as anticipated it was more of a “enjoy hating with the occasional dash of pity mixed in” than anything else.

Speaking of consequences, I think the romantic angst was handled nicely, even if it resolved itself as I expected (for given levels of resolved, considering there is still another book to go). Miscommunication isn’t my favorite romantic separation trope, but there were so many things for our characters to misinterpret that I actually thought it was believable that it would take 80% of the book to resolve some key issues. Still, if there’s one thing I would love to tell the characters, it is that they ought to use their words to say what they mean. Honesty at least helps make things clearer most of the time.

Recommendation: Get it soon. Sarah Rees Brennan produced a strong second book with a great mix of gothic horror, confused romance, and impending doom. Things have gotten darker and creepier in Sorry-in-the-Vale, and I am looking forward to the conclusion of the series next year.