Untold: review

October 10, 2013 2013, 4 star books, K., paranormal, Sarah Rees Brennan 35

Title: Untold (The Lynburn Legacy #2)
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Random House
Age Group: YA
Source: Borrowed

Sit down. I have a lot to say… There have been much debate over Sarah Rees Brennan’s second installment in her Lynburn Legacy trilogy. It had been so hyped up it almost jinxed itself. Untold has received giddy praise and somber criticism. So, which is it? Well, it’s kind of both.

Untold tells the aftermath of Kami and Co. after having discovered that it was Rob Lynburn who had been doing the massacring around not-so-sleepy-town Sorry-in-the-Vale. Now, he’s recruiting to build an army. As is with most middle books, the basic premise is preparation. Kami needs to spread the word out to the people, to educate them and arm them of and against these evil magic doers. 

Plot-wise, the book suffered faintly — I say faintly because I am unyielding in my fan-love and will be satisfied with whatever Brennan gives me. The book is slow and in the end, progress is short. We learn a little more about how magic works between the Lynburns, a few more spells, a bit more history. But somehow Kami spends more time learning karate moves, doing historical research and playing undercover agents — all important but not quite the action readers were hoping for. Something I really liked, however, is the time spent with Kami’s parents. It’s a sweet relationship with genuine affection, so the downward spiral it descends into is heartbreaking. There is also more mystery with Kami’s mom. The trouble is, we are given almost no answers.

As for the paranormal factor in this novel, it is hard to believe that as a town that is in the midst of war between centuries-old sorcery and good old human mortality, there is still such a thing as school, or trick-or-treating, or going to the post office. This is one heck of a diplomatic and considerate war — but I understand, that’s the way of the game. With that said, it does make up for lost bloodshed. There is gore and appropriate repercussions are dispensed.

Surprisingly, something many found exasperating was one of the highlights and strengths in the first book — the quirky, eccentric yet lovable smart-alec attitude of the characters. I agree begrudgingly. Yes, they did occasionally meander into Annoying Ville. There were a little too many clever quips, too many droll retorts.

Kami, in particular. Sometimes I just wanted her to speak normal, which is almost sacrilegious as she is one of the most colourful and effervescent protagonists I’ve ever met. More than that, she stands for self-respect and self-confidence. Her psychology, understandably, needs healing. She is still struggling from detaching herself as an individual from her link to Jared. Did all her guts and spirit come solely from him or did she possess them on her own? Essentially, is she herself without him? Jared, too, is beginning to open up. And near the end, we hear him; we are allowed access to a character who has so far been unreadable. It was such conflicting pleasure. (Only Jared can do that.)

Having said that, they still frustrated me. Good god, the delusions! The angst! The misinterpretations! You see, the romantic core in the book, to me, is clear. It is just the journey there that is pissing me off. When it comes to love, these two are clueless. (But so meant to be.) The book is heavily focused on mending the cruel cracks left on them after the cut. And the scars go deep. And, as in Unspoken, it is painful yet so rewarding.

This book doesn’t quite reach the height of expectations — and that’s okay as they were Everest. But it is still spectacular. What I truly appreciate is the spectrum of topics Brennan covers in her paranormal romance thriller: homosexuality, family dysfunctions, the plight of low income families, marriage problems, superficial beauty, self-acceptance. It is all done subtly, softly; without ever becoming cumbersome.

Brennan tells an absurd, fun, heartfelt story of a girl who speaks to a voice in her head. This voice turns out to be a real live boy. And while they wander into magical adventures, it is ultimately about so much more.

This review also appears on Goodreads.

35 Responses to “Untold: review”

  1. Lauren @ Love is not a triangle

    I haven’t started this series yet so I skimmed your review. Initially I held off because of the dreaded cliffy in the first one, and now I’m not sure if I should wait until the final to embark on this journey. BUT I’m glad to see that this series is still receiving high praise from you, and that you’ve found it to be multi-layered and engaging. Hoping it continues to do that into the final story, and that the general mixed feelings about this one dissipate. That is a long winded way of saying that you’ve made me want to keep this series high on my TBR list.

  2. Sam (Realm of Fiction)

    I was a little disappointed with this one – but only because I enjoyed the first book so much. I agree about the plot and the romance. Yes, the journey definitely is frustrating! Maybe a bit too frustrating in places, even if it is ultimately rewarding. And I know what you mean about the characters. A good handful of them annoyed me endlessly, but I still can’t help but find them all strangely endearing. I’m still looking forward to the next book, but I hope it’ll be just a slight improvement from this one. Great review, K! :)

  3. starryeyedjen

    I had ridiculously high expectations for this sequel, and there was no way those could have been met. Even so, I really enjoyed this one. Everything I loved about the first book was still present, and things went more or less the way I had hoped, so I’m pretty happy with the book overall. I do see your point about the overabundance of banter, though…in the first book, I marked some seriously awesome quotes, but in this one, I didn’t mark anything. It was banter-heavy but it just didn’t hit me in the same way it did in Unspoken.

  4. Elizabeth

    I was so worried when I was reading the Goodreads reviews of this book that I wouldn’t love it – particularly because I preordered it, and I haven’t pre-ordered a book since Harry Potter (that’s how much I love this series!). Luckily my reaction was pretty much the same as yours – maybe not as outright laughter and fangirling as Unspoken, but my expectations of this book were like…ridiculous. It was a great read and I have no shame whatsoever about spending the last of my month’s budget last month on this book haha

  5. Candace

    I just got this one yesterday! I’m really excited to read it! I know that the characters can be annoying but for the most part I really loved them. So much so I may be okay with the slow plot. Hopefully I can read it soon!

    • K.

      Yea, Kami and friends tend to be a bit too loquacious but that’s part of their charm. Problem is, they overdo it in some parts. Happy reading Candace!

  6. Melanie

    I’m glad that you really enjoyed this book despite the few flaws, K! I guess some books, they may suck but still manage to make you enjoy the ride.

    Lovely review, hun! <33

    • K.

      Thanks Melanie. I think I might always love Brennan — as far as this trilogy goes. I’m really attached and invested in the characters. That’s what’s driving me really and truly.

  7. Jasprit

    I’m happy to see your rating for this K, the reviews have been so mixed, with the majority of the ones that I had read being disappointed with this follow up. But it sounds like to me that Brennan brings so much more to the table! Lovely review K, I shall try and pick up Unspoken very soon!

    • K.

      I understand why people were let down by this book, Keertana, and I was too. But I didn’t think Brennan wrote a bad book. But maybe you should read this series once it’s all out. I’m sure you’ve heard of how painful the endings have been :/

  8. Pong

    The first book is something I’ve been wanting to read but I have a thing against reading the first book of a series when the 2nd book has not been publish yet. In fact, I try to read completed series. I hate being so invested in a story and be disappointed if later books take a turn for the worst. After this review, I will consider giving the first book a shot. The storyline sounds very intriguing.

    • K.

      It’s a very interesting and intriguing story Pong. I loved the first book — especially with their dancing thoughts going back and forth. It was all beautifully and poetically choreographed and directed.

  9. Maru

    Thank you for this review! I was really nervous because I had read tons of bad reviews and I absolutely loved the first book. Now I know what I’m going to find in the second one.
    Thannk you again!

    • K.

      I know, Maru. I didn’t want to start this because I feared it was going to leave me sobbing and wanting to die near the gutter. I think it’s the same voice, the same characters, etc…except it has just a bit less sparkle.

  10. Wendy Darling

    Oh dear, oh dear. You’ve just confirmed for me that I probably need to wait until the third book is out before I read this one. I think any frustrations I might have would be compounded by having to wait another year for answers, so better to wait and let the whole story flow all at once.

    Thanks for the review, dearling.

    • K.

      Oh, that’s too bad, Wendy. I wish I could get you excited! Although you’re right, you should wait. It’s excruciatingly mean to have to wait all the time. Especially since her endings are never safe or nice.

  11. Kate Bond

    I agree with all of this.

    Everyone in the good guys’ team is moving closer and closer to having the exact same voice, which bums me out hardcore.

    I kind of just want the next book already. This felt like the middle one.

    • K.

      It definitely felt like the middle book. Regarding the voices, I don’t think they sound the same because I feel like they each have their own personality but it’s just they all make remarks — in their own way. They all joke all the time. And it kind of gets annoying.

  12. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I just don’t know about this book…I haven’t read the first one (though maybe I need to!) and, even after your whole, lovely review, I’m just not convinced. Though I do like the whole premise!

    • K.

      Haha, Mary. Please, please, just read it. Isn’t it worth noting that even while I can criticize this piece of work, acknowledging its flaws, that I can still give it a 4? A four!

  13. Rashika

    The fact that you say “these two are clueless” gives me hope about the results of the love triangle.
    I am going to read this soon (hopefully) but with quite a bit of people being disappointed I am a tad bit worried.
    Great review K! :)

    • K.

      I was worried, too, and I think any reader who cares about quality and expects the best from the best will be a little disappointed. It isn’t as succinct and organic as Unspoken but it’s still great.

  14. Keertana

    I agree completely, K – this book was a mixed bag. I think the slowing of the plot was expected from a middle novel, though disappointing, but I loved the relationship arc between Kami’s parents and all the friendships in this novel were perfectly drawn. I have a feeling Unmade is going to be fantastic and this one is only a slight bump in the road. Wonderful review!(:

    • K.

      I really and truly hope so Keertana! I would cry if this series ends up disappointing me as other series have. I also loved Kami’s parents — I was upset that we didn’t get more. And the friends, oh the friends. I didn’t mention Rusty but he was most definitely a highlight. The tension between Angela and Holly are secondary but I like the struggle and growth we see between them.

      I can’t wait for Unmade. Can’t wait.

  15. Molli Moran

    I’m so conflicted on this one. I do want to read it, but I’ve heard similar complaints: that the plot really slows down, that the romance is allll over the place. I like the idea of Kammi exploring who she is without Jared! I will probably see if my library gets this one, or maybe wait until the trilogy is over and then read them.

    Lovely review, K!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

    • K.

      You know what, Molli…the endings in these books are always so painful maybe it’s best you wait for them all to come out. That way you get the pleasure without the pain ;)

  16. Lexxie Lin

    I actually didn’t love Unspoken, so I’m not sure if I’ll enjoy Untold… And I’m a huge fan of SRB as well, so I was really surprised last year when I only felt meh about Unspoken.

    Great review, K :)

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    • K.

      I’m such a snob. I always never understand when a book I love isn’t as loved by other readers. But each to his own. I think if you didn’t like Unspoken, Untold will for sure ruin any clinging interest you may have for the novel. Maybe wait for book three then read them all together.

    • K.

      Savannah! You are missing out, girl! This is one fantastic series and I doubt you’ll have much grief…except the endings. They tend to be cruel.

  17. Liviania

    I do have to wonder how two people who were in each other’s heads manage to miss that the other is ga-ga about them.

    • K.

      I know right?! Shouldn’t it be more obvious to them than everyone else? And yet they seem to be in the dark.

  1. Favorite Books of 2013 | The Midnight GardenThe Midnight Garden

    […] Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan — The highly anticipated second book in The Lynburn Legacy trilogy. Ok, so this was quite a mixed bag. I rate it highly because I am emotionally invested in the characters. I think a patient and dedicated fan wouldn’t have a problem. […]