Free from bonds, but not each other
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?
This is an open letter to Sarah Rees Brennan demanding she be held accountable for my feels and I have asked James Van Der Beek here to express them for emphasis.
Do you mind if I call you Sarah? As you have repeatedly done horrible things to my heart, I feel it’s only fair for me to address you as though we’re acquainted.
What. The hell.
You have said before that your goal as a writer is to make your readers feel something. I generally find this to be a worthy, admirable goal and rest assured, you do an incredible job. Unfortunately you seem to have decided somewhere along the way to use your powers for evil and I just don’t understand why.
Untold had me ping-ponging back and forth between laughing out loud, crying my eyes out, frustrated to the point of screaming and at one point, actually hitting myself in the head repeatedly with the book. It was sheer madness. Reading that book was a roller-coaster, flinging my feelings up down and sideways, leaving my nervous system a complete wreck.
What was going on in the beginning? It was like one of those plays where the set is a bunch of little rooms and everyone is running in and out and making out with the wrong people, having conversations where neither party says what they really mean and other assorted mishaps. The number of times two characters were talking about different things but thinking they were having the same conversation was insane. Truly, the mind boggles. Open and honest communication would have done away with at least half of the angst.
I understand from your twitter that you derive some sort of dark and awesome power from the tears and heartbreak of your readers, but what of your characters Sarah? Doesn't it hurt you to torment them this way?
Here’s Kami, this delightful, witty, unicorn of a girl, forced to deal with far more emotional misery than any one person should have to experience. To be fair, much of this is her fault as she has the remarkable (and slightly unbelievable if she wants to be a professional journalist) ability to not see things that are right in front of her.
And then there’s Jared, that poor boy. Without his voice in Kami’s head explaining his actions just he seems like such an asshole so much of the time. I see that this is because he is being an asshole, but at least before I had his perspective and mental voice to assure me he had reasons. Besides, how are you going to let a half-suicidal lunatic run around a novel without someone in his head to watch him at all times? THIS IS IRRESPONSIBLE CHARACTER PARENTING.
I will award you bonus points for the increased presence of Rusty, he is almost as enchanting as Kami. Same goes for Kami’s dad, he is absolutely marvelous and I’m glad to see more of him. However, I take these points away because what the hell is up with Lillian? In a world populated with such bright shiny characters, her single-note, arrogant of the manor routine stuck out like a sore thumb. I know she started to show some semblance of normal human emotion towards the end, but too little too late in my opinion.
And then, just when all of the pain and the anxiety and the unpleasantness had reached such a fevered pitch I was honestly considering giving up (it was my heart, you see, I was very worried about it) you bestowed blessings upon the land. Do you know what I did?
That's right, I cried. Not tears of relief, mind you, but tears of fear and sorrow because I knew, I knew, that this was a Sarah Rees Brennan book and any happiness the characters may find is only the first course to the banquet of emotional destruction ahead.
But oh, if only it were that simple. No, you tricky minx, you played upon my feelings so expertly, drawing them out to the point that I actually had hope, (foolish, I know) that maybe things would work out somehow. I knew it would be horrific, of course, but I could prepare myself for unpleasantness and maybe, just maybe, there would be a few happy things to hold on to as I waited as patiently as I could for Unbroken.
Nope! I was right to be afraid. How could you? That ending. While not quite as painful as Unspoken, it is still horrifying to have watched these lovely (if occasionally aggravating as all hell) characters go through so much and then have it end on that dreadful note. I just want to know, why?
It occurs to me that I may have given you the impression that I didn't like Untold. Let me assure you that is not the case. All the things that made Unspoken so amazing, the creepy, mysterious atmosphere, the wacky characters, ridiculous shenanigans and hilarious dialogue, were all present and accounted for. I loved it in that crazy, conflicted way one loves something that is both fabulous and bad for your health (like Jared). I just also found it to be torturous and cruel.
So here’s to you, Sarah Rees Brennan, goal accomplished.
I hope you’re happy.
You have forcibly shoved me through the full range of human emotion with your terrible, wonderful book. Excuse me while I go off and sit by myself in the corner, waiting for Unbroken, foolishly hoping against all previous evidence that it will somehow come out alright.
To all of you who have patiently waded through my rant, I leave you this delightful and informative quote about honey badgers because, as Kami says, honey badgers are badass:
“Honey badgers are badass,” Kami argued. “The honey badger is the most hardcore of all the animals. They break into beehives and get stung all over. Not because they have to. Just because they think bees are super tasty. Also they have been known to bite the heads off puff adders, collapse from the venom, and wake up from their comas going ‘Hey there, delicious snake.’ That’s how honey badgers roll.”
This review also appears on Cuddlebuggery.