Finding a great book recommendation is a cautious task for me. I work in a very small chain bookstore, so most of our YA books are publisher-pushed and hyped up. And despite being on Goodreads and following a handful of book and author blogs, let’s face it, everyone has different tastes. Especially when I pick up a book that was recommended by an author I love. (In the case of this book, I read about Unspoken on Karen Healey’s blog.) And then there are authors I hear about, and I sit here thinking, “Well, I just don’t know…”Such is the case with Sarah Rees Brennan. Aside from Team Human, I haven’t read anything by her—I’ve been meaning to pick up Demon’s Lexicon, as I’ve heard so many good things about it. (Her next project, I’m a little unwilling to look at for various reasons.) So, I heard about Unspoken, and thought, “Well, why not? It’s Gothic YA. I like Gothic.” I was willing to give it a shot.So all of that said—this? Is fantastically above my expectations. It managed to surprise me with the lack of problematic YA paranormal tropes (and subverting said tropes on occasion!). I liked the story, loved the setting, loved the characters and even the love triangle didn’t bother me like it normally would.Setting is something I don’t think gets a lot of focus in YA, as most YA books (modern-day period YA, realistic or paranormal) tend to be set in Generic Smalltown, USA. (Occasionally, you’ll get Great Britain, but it’s normally London and only to be cool.) Sorry-in-the-Vale not only provides a very atmospheric setting, but actually contributes to the story. I loved the bits of town history that get woven into the plot. And the other townspeople actually play a role! They don’t show up in the plot as often as our core group, but I like that Kami slowly realizes that it’s not just the Lynburns who have secrets. I like how that even though Kami and her father have lived in this town their entire lives, they’re seen as outsiders because her grandmother immigrated and married into the Glass family. INCLUDING KAMI’S MOM. Which is such a fascinating dynamic when you think about it, that why wouldn’t she clue her own daughter into the town history, and what does that mean for Kami’s little brothers? And also, it’s never seen as being cruel; her mother was trying to protect her from the Lynburns and the town secrets. I loved the town, it helped not only with world-building and adding a sense of realism to the overall plot, but the fact that it plays a role in the book helped immensely.Onto Kami. As a lead heroine, I love her. Plucky investigate reporter girls ftw! (And she actually investigates!) I loved how Kami was written, she was so full of life and personality. And I absolutely loved that while Kami does care about Jared and that the two of them are each other’s constants in life, Kami still wants to be normal and to actually be alone sometimes. I really don’t want to harp on other YA PNR, but it’s become so standard for the blank slate main characters to be “OMG I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER DON’T EVER LEAVE ME FOR I WILL DIIIIIIIE.” Kami saying that even though she loves and cares about Jared, she wants some alone time, is fantastic. (And to tangent, even though it’s spoiled on the book cover about Jared, the scene with the two of them in the elevator ‘meeting’ for the first time was hilarious.) I loved that Kami is also willing to care about her other friends, and even with Nicola, who’s supposed to be the bitchy mean girl no one’s supposed to like, I even like that Kami worries about her. I liked that Kami had such a close relationship with her family, and that her love for her family wasn’t called into question due to romantic plot tumors. Kami Glass is what I want from a YA heroine. On the flipside, there’s really not much that I’m seeing with Jared. I like that he does have a rapport with Kami (good Lord, the snark levels between those two) and that even though he ticks off a number of “mysterious bad boy love interest” (shady past, insists that he’s dangerous, supernatural), Jared does come across more as a nice kid who’s had a sucky life. But there’s still not enough there to get me to love Jared. He’s not bland and cookie-cutter, so I don’t dislike him….but there’s still not much more to his character as whole than “mysterious bad boy love interest.” I would have liked to have more from his POV, as the few moments we got in the book felt more like switching POVs for convenience’s sake. As a comparison, I’m really not a fan of Ash either, much for the same reasons as I’m not wild about Jared. I wouldn’t go as far to say that Ash and Jared are largely interchangeable love interests—they do have different personalities and different chemistry with Kami—but my lack of knowledge for either one bothers me. With Ash, it’s more understandable as we don’t know anything about him aside from he’s one of the Lynburns; but with Jared’s connection to Kami, surely, we would know every little detail about Jared’s life (even if Kami thought she was making it up). I don’t dislike either Jared or Ash, but I certainly want more from them as characters.ANGELA AND HOLLY. Any book that actually gives the main character friends and actual friends that they’re going to fight for; yes, I am all over that, and Angela and Holly fit the bill. I loved both of their respective friendships with Kami; Angela’s “My friend is clearly mad, but I love her anyway” and Holly’s tenuous emerging footing to keep up with Kami and the others. Not to mention, the two actually do play a large role in the story and help figure out what’s going on with the Lynburns and Aurimere House. (Again, trying not to harp on other books, but I’ve read so many others where the ‘best friends’ get shafted.) I also like how none of the three girls are damsels—Kami has a few “Jared, help me!” moments, but they make sense to the plot—and that the three are capable of handling themselves in a fight. Particularly Angela. (Spoiler: She fights someone in the end. It’s awesome.) As for the main mystery and plot, while it wasn’t strong, I did like what I read. Unspoken is very obviously setting up for a series (definitely a trilogy), so while it does have a bit of a cliffhanger and unresolved plot threads, we do find what the truth is behind Kami’s connection is to Jared and a few explanatory details. The reveal of the main villain wasn’t too bad—while it could have been read as an asspull, it does make sense if you go and reread the villain’s earlier actions. And as I mentioned earlier, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a town of secrets, and given that not only is Kami considered an outsider, but so are Jared and Angela, and thus, those secrets aren’t going to be quickly revealed. I’ve very excited to see where the next book goes.This was a fantastic read, and despite some underwhelming elements, I really loved this book. Definitely looking forward to reading the next installment.