Release Date: September 11, 2012
(Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher!)
Published by: Random House
Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.
But all that changes when the Lynburns return.
The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?
1. (+) Kami, the protagonist - Kami is my kind of heroine. She's smart, loyal, independent, quirky, and strong, holding herself together when everything falls apart around her. When she investigates the bloody happenings of Sorry-in-the-Vale, she doesn't act like the kind of protagonist you want to shake, because he/she is doing something stupid, and you know something's going to go wrong because of that. Kami goes about her investigation in a bold but measured way. She's the lighter, more fun version of someone like... Bitterblue, who's not physically strong but whose strength you never doubt anyways. Also, she embraces her quirks, and I couldn't love her more for that.
2. (+) World Building - The magic in this novel is fun. It wasn't something I expected, and there are so many twists thrown in there when you least expect. A reason for Jared and Kami's connection, which in itself, gets explored really well, the rivers and tales of Sorry-in-the-Vale, what kind of power the Lynburns hold over everyone else, and what the limitations are to those powers, the sacrifices that are made. The Gothic elements play really well with the magical elements.
3. (+) Romance - Jared and Kami share an intense mental connection. They've spilled their secrets to each other and know how the other thinks. When they meet, they have to deal with the loss of privacy among other things. I liked the twist this gave their relationship, liked how Jared and Kami were close friends before anything else. I especially liked seeing how everything evolved for them and how they balanced each other out. And just when you think Jared and Kami might get used to each other, just when their love is evolving, Sarah Rees Brennan disavows you of that comfort. The two form quite the twisted, tortured couple but with wry humor strung along the way.
4. (+) Gothic Feel - I'm no connoisseur of Gothic novels but I love the Bronte sisters, and I love the feel of Sorry-in-the-Vale. First off, how great is that name? All the names in this book are fantastic. This town oozes creepiness with its dark history, the things that go bump in the night when the Lynburns return, the secrecy/the way everyone gets closed mouthed when it comes to the Lynburns...
5. (+) Humor - There were a few times when the humor caught me off guard because it didn't seem appropriate at the time, but it's such a nice surprise amidst the dark feel. I love that Kami, in the first 75 pages when she gets attacked (I don't consider that much of a spoiler), is still able to joke about her position. The banter between the characters makes this novel more enjoyable.
6. (+) Side Characters - All the side characters in this novel seem well developed; it's clear that they all have their own motivations, even if some of those are suspect. I love that Sarah Rees Brennan created parents who were not of the typical neglectful, absent sort, and that she created a wonderful family dynamic for Kami to lean on. I didn't Angela, Kami's best friend, at first but she grew on me as did Ash, Holly, and the twin Lynburns. Look forward to finding out more about all of them.
7. (+/-) Predictable - This is one of those books where I could see what was going to happen, but it still didn't take away my enjoyment of the book. I wanted to find out what other magic things would happen along the way, what each character would specifically, how Kami and Jared would fare. Have you read John Green's post on anticipation vs. predictability? Sarah Rees Brennan is good at the former.
8. (+) Writing - There were a few times when I paused, thrown off balance by either a change in POV or a sudden transition, but other than that, it flowed nicely and did a great job of establishing both the quirky and the dark tone.
9. (+) Pacing - There's very much a setting the stage feel in the beginning, but I never once felt bored, or like something wasn't happening. The book is split into six parts, and there's plenty to keep the momentum going until the climax and its aftermath.
10 (+) The Cover - Not much a fan of the stereotypical girl figurine, but I like that she's a silhouette, the darkness there, and the way she's just about open the gates. Very nice feel, though the pink might be a bit overdone for Kami; red would've been scarier.
This book was absolutely fantastic. Quirky humor, a great heroine, awesome supporting cast, tortured, angsty love, a dark, creepy town--what's not to like? Sarah Rees Brennan has done an amazing job, and I can't wait for the sequel!