Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan
|Author:||Sarah Rees Brennan|
|Publisher(s):||Random House Books for Young Readers|
|Formatt:||Hardcover / Paperback / Ebook|
|Release Date:||September 23, 2014|
Unspoken made me fall in love with the most remarkable cast of characters I’d ever encountered in a young adult novel. Kami Glass, intrepid high school reporter (and girl who has had the voice of a boy named Jared in her head since she was a little girl), is brave without becoming a stereotype and relatable without becoming boring. Jared Lynburn, the boy whose voice was in Kami’s head (and who has also had her voice in his), is a dark and brooding figure without becoming the sort that is now ubiquitous in YA. He’s much more complex than the typical love interest in YA fantasy, and Ash, the other Lynburn, is much more than the other leg of a love triangle. Angela Montgomery, Kami’s best friend, has her own storyline and her own struggles, making her much more interesting than the typical protagonist’s best friend who exists mainly to support whatever said protagonist is doing.
Untold kept me in love with the characters and, though it was hardly necessary, drew me more into the world of Sorry-in-the-Vale. In Unspoken, we were just as new to magic as Kami was, but in the sequel, both she and the readers get to learn more about the history of this world and how the Lynburns’ brand of magic works. While I wouldn’t suggest reading it on its own, it isn’t the sort of book-two-of-three that acts mainly as a bridge between the first and third books of a trilogy. It tells the next part of a story and wraps up just enough to be satisfying while leaving plenty open for the reader to eagerly await the final book.
That book, Unmade, delivers.
When the book opens, Jared has been missing for months, and Kami is still trying to navigate her magical link with Ash. Having grown up with Jared inside her head, living with the thoughts of the other Lynburn would be difficult even under normal circumstances. The town of Sorry-in-the-Vale has never really been normal, though, and it’s even less so with Rob Lynburn securely in power. He has demanded the town return to the old ways by offering a sacrifice of one of their own on the equinox, when the death will give him more magical power than on any other night of the year. The townspeople are, naturally, terrified, but as far as they can see, they have little choice. Rob Lynburn and his allies are too powerful for anyone to stop without putting themselves in danger, and even then, there’s no guarantee that they would succeed.
The danger is certainly not going to stop Kami and her friends.
As with the first two books in this series, what really made me fall in love with this one were the characters. My favorite is still Rusty, Angela’s nap-loving older brother, but he has some serious competition this time. If it weren’t for a moment where he reveals that he isn’t quite as carefree as he seems, he might well have been caught up in a tie with Kami’s father and Lillian Lynburn, of all people.
Jon Glass is still quite possibly the ideal fictional dad. He makes dad jokes and manages to find the right balance between treating Kami like the adult she is becoming and having her still be his little girl. (He still errs on the side of the latter, but when there’s a power-hungry sorcerer taking over your town and demanding blood sacrifices, who can blame him?) He belongs quite firmly to that cusp between millennia. Lillian Lynburn, on the other hand, is the sort of woman you would expect to see in Game of Thrones, and she even speaks as though she’d stepped out of that series. She’s strong and self-assured but can be a bit of a jerk to those she sees as below her. It would have been very easy to have the series grow steadily darker, and while Unmade is much darker than Unspoken, it isn’t completely grim, in large part thanks to the fact that these two have frequent conversations that show just how much of a disconnect there is between the Lynburns and the real world. (And the disconnect is, frankly, hilarious.)
Naturally, most of my attention was on Kami, considering she’s the one actively driving the plot forward. While Kami is still the same determined young woman she’s been in the first two books, she finds herself paralyzed into temporary inaction by the fear of her younger brother Tenri becoming the sacrifice. While it might normally bother me that the female protagonist finds herself too anxious to do anything, with Kami, it works. Throughout the series, family is one of the most important things for various characters, whether it’s Angela and Rusty’s bond or the way even the Lynburns are willing to look out for one another. With the Glass family, it’s shown mostly through little ways: Jon’s dad jokes and desire to protect his children, Claire’s desire to protect everyone in her family, and the how those two conflict. This is yet another thing I love about this series. Not all of the tension comes from fighting the villain. Some of it comes from very small, ordinary things, like parents arguing or making discoveries about yourself.
That brings me to yet another favorite part of this series: Angela and Holly. Having a queer couple in a book without making the book about the queerness of the couple always feels like a little victory to me, and doubly so in this case. Holly and Angela’s relationship is relegated to a subplot of the book, but so is Jon and Claire’s, and even Jared and Kami’s. All of the relationships are equally valid, and all of them are slightly less important than stopping Rob Lynburn from regaining total control of Sorry-in-the-Vale.
I said before that there’s a trend toward YA trilogies, and that the trend is not at all a bad thing. It can be overdone sometimes, but without it, we’d have missed out on what I think is one of the best YA trilogies to come out recently. It’s clever and sweet, and I’ll admit that this last book brought me to tears at one point. These books are everything I’d hope YA novels would be, and they stand out wonderfully from the others I’ve read.