Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton (Atom, 5 February 2015)
UNSPEAKABLE was... okay. I'm sad because I really wanted to love it, but I just couldn't. I enjoyed reading it for the most part and it certainly wasn't boring, but the whole book just felt distinctly average and I disliked the clunky prose.
UNSPEAKABLE tells the story of Megan, who hasn't spoken in months, ever since something terrible happened, crushing her with overwhelming guilt and fear. Now everyone makes fun of Megan for not speaking. Then a new girl called Jasmine starts going to Megan's school and she becomes Megan's friend, making Megan wish she could speak again just so she could talk to Jasmine. But there are some things that Megan needs to keep a secret at all costs.
My main problem was that the plot resolved in a way that fell completely flat for me. As the climax unravelled, I literally sat there with my eyebrows raised, thinking, "Really?" I don't know, I just found that entire situation and the behaviour of certain characters in that scene utterly absurd. I can't really talk about it without spoiling it, obviously, but honestly. It was disappointing. I saw a part of the reveal coming from quite early on in the book, but I had been kind of hoping that I was wrong because it just wasn't what I wanted. Unfortunately, I was right. Also, there was some symbolism at the end that just seemed way too over-the-top and cheesy to me.
Another problem was that the book didn't really make me feel much: Megan's grief didn't touch me, nor did her feelings for Jasmine. I just feel like the emotions aren't very vividly painted. There's too much tell and not enough show. I also felt like there were some under-developed aspects which relied heavily on cliché. Megan used to be friends with these girls who are now sort of the popular group and completely horrible to her, but I feel like that just was never explained enough and I didn't understand why they used to be friends and why they're no longer friends or any of that. It was confusing and it just felt like something I'd seen in way too many YA books and I couldn't bring myself to care about the whole thing at all.
That said, the book was definitely intriguing. I didn't expect it to have such a big mystery/thriller component, but yeah. That's quite a big part of the book, and I did find myself caught up in the suspense and unsettled by some of the more sinister moments of the mystery.
I thought that Megan's grandparents, who are both gone but whom Megan still thinks of all the time, were a really nice touch to the book. They seemed like the sweetest and most romantic couple ever, and Megan's memories of them were just so lovely – honestly, they're probably my favourite parts of the book.
Megan's relationship with her mother was also interesting. It was a very complicated relationship with lots of ups and downs, and it seemed quite realistic. I think that was one of the most well-developed aspects of the book. I guess it's probably the outstanding thing about this book, that the main characters' parents aren't absent, and they feel very real to me. Megan's father left before she was even born, but her mother features heavily in the book, and Jasmine's parents also seem quite involved in her life and we meet them a few times.
As for the romance between Megan and Jasmine... Well. It was cute, but I found myself wishing for more. There just didn't seem to be enough.
UNSPEAKABLE felt like it could almost have been a good book. It had quite a few things in it that I liked, but it just didn't add up to a book that I liked, somehow.