Unmade: The Lynburn Legacy, by Sarah Rees Brennan

Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken was one of the most promising teen romances I've read in the past decade, with an absolutely phenomenal premise. The sequel, alas, took several steps down in quality, and I'm sad to report that the final book in the trilogy is dumber still. Admittedly, her books are still a cut or two above Cassandra Clare or Sarah J. Maas's novels, but they could have been so much better.

At this point in the trilogy, Kami Glass's life is in shambles: her broody soulmate Jared has been missing for months, her family is falling apart, and she's psychically and magically linked to the duller-than-dishwater Ash. Worse still, her beloved village of Sorry-in-the-Vale is now almost completely under the control of the evil Rob Lynburn, and he's busily stomping out the last few sparks of rebellion. Kami and her friends discover a way to stop him, but it involves making a series of painful—read: potentially fatal—sacrifices.

To borrow a term from fanfiction, everyone in this story is a Mary Sue. Every. Single. Character. (Even the adults!) Everyone is wildly attractive and impossibly heroic and speaks only in adorable one-liners. Check out this exchange, which takes place right after Jared is rescued from life-threatening peril:
Jared ducked his head and murmured in her ear, his breath warm against her skin: “What was that about?”
“Shush, you heartless monster,” said Kami. “He's happy you're alive. I thought it was very sweet.”
“I can hear you both,” Ash grumbled from Jared's other side.
Kami couldn't see him, but she could feel how he was feeling, of course. It was the same way she felt, embarrassed but radiantly happy.
“Oh, Jared,” said Rusty, mimicking Ash's voice. “I am sooooo overcome with joy that you are alive.”
“Oh, Ash,” said Angela. “The inbreeding has done such different things to us. You are so girlish and emotional, prone to swooning and embracing people, while I stand here with a face like a stone and eyes like a rabid squirrel's.”
“All that stuff you're saying about your face is true, Jared,” said Rusty, “But I still wish to clasp you to my bosom.”
“I was buried alive five minutes ago,” Jared muttered. “Already with the mockery?”
Kami glanced over her shoulder at Angela and Rusty, arm in arm and snickering with delight, and Holly on Angela's other side, smiling like a cheerfully wicked angel.
“That's how we roll,” Kami said. “We live a mock-and-roll lifestyle.”
SEE? I want to punch all of these people in the teeth. None of the characters react with stunned silence (oh, if only) or inarticulate teen-speak. The incessant dorky-cute dialogue saps the book's emotional energy—it's impossible to get invested in horror or drama when everyone is spouting a C-grade version of the comic relief on a Joss Whedon show. I'm sorry to say this, but until Ms. Brennan outgrows her desire to sound like the wittiest person in 11th grade, her stories are going to continue to disappoint.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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