Khanh the Killjoy

Characters are awesome...plot sucks.

Untold  - Sarah Rees Brennan

I usually hate love triangles, I usually hate the romance. This book is different in that I actually enjoyed both. I felt the love triangle was complex enough, the romance and relationships between the characters were beautifully, realistically portrayed. This book had a tremendous amount of humor. It had an amazing, strong main character. The side characters were compelling; funny, flawed, loveable. It portrayed a lesbian character and her ordeal with coming into herself with sensitivity, tact, and realism. The writing is awesome; I am going to have to restrain myself from using an abundance of quotes here.

So why not a 4? Why not a 5? Because as much as I loved the characters and the romance...both completely eclipsed the story. This is one of those rare instances where I loved the characters, but hated the slowness of the book.

Because the angst was overwhelming.

Because the plot was tedious, slow, and boring compared to brilliant portrayal of the characters.

This book truly is good. It is so beautifully written. There was something on almost every page that made me smile, but the characters and the romance overshadowed the actual story. As much as I enjoyed the writing, as short as this book is, this book took me over an entire month to read because the actual plot line was not compelling at all. This still remains a refreshing book, and I would still highly recommend it, because for me, excellent characterization wins out every time.

Untold is the second book in the Lynburn Legacy. I don't recall much from the first book, but the beginning of this book summed up the events of the first book very well, however, it's probably best not to dive into this book without reading the first. Kami's link to Jared has been broken. Jared and Ash are both acting like children wrestling over a beloved toy. Most importantly; the sorcerer Rob Lynburn is back, and he plans to take over the town of Sorry-in-the-Vale.

The plot is simple. The characters are not. The story drags on so much in the first half of the book; that's actually the part of the book that gave me so much pause in between my bouts of reading. As funny the writing is, as compelling the characters, the plot moves at the pace of a spilled bottle of frozen molasses.

The characters and the writing are without a doubt, the best thing about this book. I could hardly turn a page without reading something that made me smile. Kami is such an awesome character, as are the supporting casts. It still remains Kami's story, the narration is primarily from her point of view, and I absolutely adored her. She is suffering from the severance of her mental link to Jared, who now acts like he hates her.

“Been chatting much with Jared?”
“We often have special moments where I come into a room and he immediately leaves,” Kami said. “I treasure those times.”

It may feel silly, it may feel like an abundance of adolescent love, but for me, Kami and Jared's mental connection, and the anguish that results from the cutting of that connection felt so real; I understood Kami's pain. I also understood, to a lesser extent, why Jared acts out so much afterwards.

“Every dark moment you ever had in your life,” Jared said. “Every time you were a kid hiding under the covers convinced that nobody in the world existed, that it was just you and the nightmares. Every time you felt alone in a crowd, alone by yourself, forever and essentially alone, and don’t pretend there weren’t moments like that. Every time you felt worthless, every time you thought there was no purpose to existing, no center to the world and no peace to be found. I never had a single moment like that, I was never lonely a day of my life, until now. Now I feel like the world is hell, and hell is a place where the souls of the damned can still see heaven. Because that’s the worst thing of all. And yet I can’t look away.”

And rest assured, Jared DOES act out afterwards. There is a horrifying amount of angst throughout the book regarding Ash and Jared. They both have feelings of insecurity. They both have feelings of anger. They feel inadequate. They both like Kami. Jared reacts by running away. By pushing Kami away. By reacting in anger. By being barely civil.

Ash reacts by crying.

Ash ran then, stumbling as if he was drunk or blind, through the home of his dreams and out into the night. He ran down the path into the dark woods, until he could no longer see the lit windows of the manor on the hill. Then he sat at the foot of a tree, head in his hands, and wept.

They're both in a very confusing relationship with Kami, and there's an incident of mistaken-identity kissing in the dark that I found rather amusing.

“You thought?” Angela repeated. “Like, you had a kissing hallucination?”
“It was in the corridor,” Kami said. “It was dark. I thought it was Jared but it might—it might have been Ash.”
Angela blinked. “Excuse me? Might?”
“One of those mistaken-identity makeouts,” Kami said defensively. “They happen.”

I really liked the love triangle here, and I usually cannot tolerate love triangles at all. My problem is not the love triangle itself, but rather, how much precendence it took over the actual plot.

The romance is sweet, steamy at times. There is no sex, but there is plenty of heat, and I have to admit, I got quite hot under the collar at some of the barely repressed kissing scenes in this book.

Her fingers trailed light along the line of his collarbone, nails tracing the dip at the base of his throat, and she felt the shudder run through his body. She curled her fingers in under the collar of his shirt and used her hold to pull him in again.
They kissed and kissed, shivering and shaking apart, neither of them daring to touch each other anywhere risky, both scared and trying not to scare the other off.

The other characters in the book are so, so well done. There are a lot of people involved, and they all have their distinct personality. I loved them all. Angela, Holly, Rusty. Instead of leaving them sidelined, they all have their roles to play in the book, and I grew to love them as much as I did Kami. They have such personality, they have such humor. None of the characters are perfect. They react foolishly sometimes, they run away and hurt others in stressful situations; but for me, that's what makes them so much more real.

She was desperate to be hurt or used or anything, as long as she wanted it, as long as she could prove it was only this she wanted.

I loved the portrayal of Angela's sexuality in this book. Angela is a lesbian. She is in love with Holly, who does not exactly return her feelings. I felt that the portrayal of Angela's hurt, her confusion about her feelings were so well done. I loved the conversation she and Kami have about sexuality. It was never preachy. It is never out of place in the book. They're just two friends having a rather awkward conversation; they still love each other, they're still best friends. It's just something they need to discuss. The portrayal of Holly's feelings were so well done as well. Just because someone professes love to you doesn't mean the feeling is reciprocated, and I understand and sympathized with Holly's hurt, her confusion, her anger.

Bravo to Ms. Brennan for a compassionate, realistic portrayal of teenaged sexuality and coming out of the closet.

Wonderfully written book, I just wished the plot was more compelling.