Review: Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

Review: Untold by Sarah Rees BrennanUntold by Sarah Rees Brennan
Series: The Lynburn Legacy #2
Published by Random House BFYR on September 24, 2013
Genres: Gothic, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 367
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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four-half-stars

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?

A darkly humorous take on Gothic romance, Sarah Rees Brennan's Lynburn Legacy weaves together the tale of a heroine desperate to protect those she loves, two boys hoping to be saved, and the magical forces that will shape their destiny.

Let’s add Untold to the list of second books in series that improve upon the first book. Unspoken was cute, funny and finally surprisingly dark. Untold continues that and becomes so much more feelsy and soul-crushing. Total Christina series, as I was told by Meg (Cuddlebuggery) and Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) time and time again. Always listen to those two as they are very wise.

Oh, the banter of this series. I’ve already praised it to the skies, but, for real, Brennan needs to be teaching classes on this. The things about banter is that it really makes me feel the connections between people. It’s what makes me feel there are real friendships and passions building. Who are the people I banter with best? The ones that I’m in a flow state with. The kindred spirits. The people I can hardly believe weren’t always in my life. In The Lynburn Legacy, the banter is excellent and that’s why I care so much about Kami, Jared, Angela (my soulfriend), Holly, and Rusty. Sorry, Ash, you’re so nice, but also you don’t banter like the others and my feels about you are not so strong.

I know that some don’t care for banter and, consequently, for this series. On an intellectual level, I get it. Everyone’s different. The humor strikes some as cavalier and it definitely makes the tone juxtapose with the harshness of the plot. While the story line is gothic horror and paranormal and dark dark dark, the humor lends an air of fluffiness. To some, it might seem like it trivializes the heavier issues. I, however, find that the humor makes everything ring true.

Impossibly, Kami found herself smiling. It was a strange small miracle. (340)

This sentence really sums up Kami’s determined sense of humor for me. Kami’s ability to find humor in the horrible situations in Sorry-in-the-Vale is miraculous. She’s strange, yes, and most people would not be able to pull out such gallows humor. That’s Kami, though. When she can’t smile or crack a joke, you know things have reached a new low and the sudden lack of banter strikes hard. There’s such a moment in Untold and just oof. I like reading about characters who try their best to laugh their way through the pain and the fear, and that’s probably my favorite thing about this series.

gif lion king laugh in the face of danger

The plot continues to be supremely entertaining, if not my favorite aspect of the series. What I like about Untold is the new layers added to some of the characters. I like the development given to Rosalind especially. The way things fall out in Untold is rather strange, with the big showdown not really being what I expected it to be and the real progress coming about in other ways. The worst things happened when I least expected them, like a sucker punch. In some ways, the big battle was anticlimactic, but I also really think it makes some interesting statements about how wars are really won.

The romance in this book hurts me, both so good and so bad. Both of my ships (Holla and Jami) are by turns hopeful and painful. Sarah Rees Brennan is an excellent feels manipulator. I swear this book is kdrama-levels of emotional manipulation, which I mean as the best kind of compliment. I totally know I’m being manipulated, but it’s so effective. Jami is one of those ships where you really just want to shake them both because they’re so bad at communicating.

It was like they were in different worlds entirely, trying to tell each other about what they saw. (340)

This is Jared and Kami. It’s so funny that they know each other better than anyone else in the world, but at the same time they are total strangers now that their bond has been cut. It’s endlessly frustrating in a completely realistic way to watch them interact. What Jared says and what Kami understands him to mean are different things, and vice versa. The two have so much expectation packed on top of their interpretations that they’re blind to the truths in front of them. I also love that, ultimately, their relationship problems are really and truly their own and not so much tied to the larger plot. Obviously, the war in the town doesn’t help, but their problems are a lack of understanding and not the magic stuff.

Then there are Holly and Angela, who totally also need to kiss and need to sort out their issues. I ship it so hard. Also, I just ship Angela with happiness, because she is the best creature in the history of the world. I mostly want to comment on all the beautiful quotes about sexuality in Untold, because they are ridiculously perfect. Seriously, LGBT+ readers will love it.

Sadly, I do have one complaint. The thing is that, as I was reading, both Unspoken and Untold, I kept imagining them set somewhere in the US. New England, maybe. I was actually sort of doubting they were in London and looked up the info multiple times. This struck me as weird and I finally really thought about why. These books just do not come off as British at all. In Untold, there’s one moment where Kami refers to a sweater as a jumper and Jared responds like an American. That is the most British moment in the whole series. There’s rarely any slang or even particularly British customs. Generally, British novels feel very British but this series very much does not.

Well, this book hurt me. In the good way. Now it’s time to see what book three will do and I’m hoping to be stomped on emotionally. I’m hoping this is a series that will only get stronger as it goes along.

Favorite Quote:

“Wow, Angela and Holly,” Ash said, sounding awed. “Hot.”

“Excuse me, what is wrong with you?” Kami demanded. “Other people’s sexuality is not your spectator sport.”

Ash paused. “Of course,” he said. “But—”

“No!” Kami exclaimed. “No buts. That’s my best friend you’re talking about. Your first reaction should not be ‘Hot.'”

“It’s not an insult,” Ash protested.

“Oh, okay,” Kami said. “In that case, you’re going to give me a minute. I’m picturing you and Jared. Naked. Entwined.”

There was a pause. Then Jared said, View Spoiler »

“I don’t care,” Kami informed him. “All you are to me are sex objects that I choose to imagine bashing together at random. Oh, there you go again, look at that, nothing but Lynburn skin as far as the mind’s eye can see. Masculine groans fill the air, husky and-”

“Stop it,” Ash said in a faint voice. “That isn’t fair.”

Behind them, Jared was laughing. Kami glanced back at him and caught his eye: for once, it made her smile, as if amusement could still travel back and forth like a spark between them.

“Ash is right, this is totally unfair,” Jared told her. “If you insist on this-”

“Oh, I do,” Kami assured him.

“Then I insist on hooking up with Rusty instead of Ash. It’s the least you can do.”

“Ugh,” Ash protested. “You guys, stop.”

“She’s making a point,” Jared said blandly. “I recognize her right to do that. But considering the alternative, I want Rusty.”

Ash gave this some thought. “Okay, I’ll have Rusty too.”

The sound of the door opening behind them made them all look up the stairs to where Rusty stood, with one eyebrow raised.

“Don’t fight, boys,” he remarked mildly. “There’s plenty of Rusty to go around.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif smile city hunter
This is how Jared feels about Kami and oh my feels.

8 responses to “Review: Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan”

  1. Meg says:

    HIGH FIVE GILLIAN

    SUCH BATNER, RIGHT? LIKE THE BANTERIEST OF THE BANTER TOOK SOME PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS AND THEN ATE A BUNCH OF OTHER BANTER AND ABSORBED THE BANTERY POWER and I don’t fully know where I’m going with this but you see what I’m saying, yes? Yes.

    Poor Ash, he’s just…idk, Ash. He’s sweet but also needs to GTFO.

    I adore Kami for so many reasons but one of the hugest is her natural inclination to crack jokes and never be earnest and serious under any circumstances. HELLO SPIRIT ANIMAL.

    I swear this book is kdrama-levels of emotional manipulation, <— SRB is relentlessly cruel.

    BEST QUOTE BEST QUOTE BEST QUOTE
    Meg recently posted…Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather DemetriosMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      YES ALWAYS LISTEN CHRISTINA WILL

      NANANANANANANANANANANA BAT NER.

      Yes yes I do see your point yes yes.

      Ash is just like so misguided and I sort of like that about him but also omfk you bore me, boy.

      I still maintain that my spirit animal is Angela, because she’s just as bantery but has no fucks to give but secretly gives so many fucks. However, I also adore Kami. I dub thee Megi.

      I love cruel. I do. IN BOOKS ONLY. Real life should be not cruel.

      BEST BEST BEST.

  2. Dahlia Adler says:

    Well now I basically have to read this…but I haven’t read the first one…so now I have to read that one…ugh you’re killing me. (jk I AM EXCITED. It’ll be my first SRB!)
    Dahlia Adler recently posted…End of Month Recap of ALL THE THINGSMy Profile

  3. Melanie says:

    I haven’t read this series yet, but your review alone has made me purchase the entire series and place at the top of my TBR pile.

    Banter! I love great banter and there isn’t enough of it these days in my opinion. And my god, that favorite quote. It’s perfect..

    Amazon needs to get these books to me ASAP because I need them in my life.

    • Christina Franke says:

      Squeeeeeee, I hope you enjoy it! The plots aren’t the strongest necessarily, but I LIVE for all of the banter. It’s a beautiful thing. I’m most of the way through book three now and I really do think they get stronger as they go, which is nice.

      *crosses fingers that you love them*

  4. The banter and Kami are my favorite parts of the series. She is one of my favorite characters of all time and the banter is off the charts. I laughed so many times! I also love Kami’s dad because you totally see where she gets her sense of humor from. He’s awesome.

    You know what, the lack of Britishness hadn’t crossed my mind until you mentioned it. I think I was so distracted by the other awesome stuff that it passed me by. Missed opportunities for British cuteness argh.

    Holla and Jami. Yes yes yes. Ash can leave anytime now, goodbye.

    I love my books dark, brutal, sexy, and full of feels. The Lyburn Legacy fits the bill perfectly, glad there’s someone else to push these books on unsuspecting readers now!!
    Morgan @ Gone with the Words recently posted…Cover Reveal: Anne & Henry by Dawn IusMy Profile

  5. Nori says:

    I’m so happy you like these! It’s seriously one of my all time favorite YA series. I recommend it to people all the time. I’ve gotten a lot of teens adults at my library to pick it up. I adore the banter too. Plus, I love the characters. Oddly enough, I thought it took place in New England in the first book, and then realized it was England in this one.
    Nori recently posted…Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie StiefvaterMy Profile

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Ahhhh this series! I frelling love it so much gahhhhhh

    …and yet. I bought the third book when it came out…and I haven’t opened it yet! I’m like scared to finish it or something. Because SRB really packs a punch, and I have to say this second book definitely, definitely hits you hard. I know EXACTLY where you are talking about where the banter stops and…god. Ouch. I didn’t think I’d be so much more impacted by the small things instead of the big battles, but it just does!
    Elizabeth recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Reread the MostMy Profile

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