Untold, Sarah Rees Brennan

“Good practice, everyone,” Rusty said at last. “Light on the actual learning, heavy on the emotional catharsis, and thanks to Jared I think I need a rabies shot, but them’s the breaks.” (loc 1627)

 

I’m going to come right out and say it. I read book 2 of The Lynburn Legacy because I wanted more Rusty. He’s only a peripheral character in the first book; fortunately for me, he plays a bigger role in the second. My hope is that by the third installment, he has completely taken over the narrative so that I’m no longer forced to read about an obviously unhealthy romantic triangle, and I can spend all my time delighting in the antics of Rusty, his badass sister Angela, and her spunky crush, Holly Prescott. I’m even happy to invite Brennan’s protagonist, Kami Glass, to the party as long as she doesn’t bring her mopey suitors along.

I like Kami and her friends, I really do. The first book had a lot more of her with them, and the romance was more of a side note. That was great. Although I have no problem with romance – not even fraught romance – I’ve never been a fan of the Romeo and Juliet school of pining, or the even more dire Othello method of investigation (guilty until proven…nope, just gonna kill her without bothering to talk it out). One of my biggest pet peeves is when assumptions are made over and over again without a single question ever being asked. One assumption? Sure. We all occasionally make decisions based on hearsay or a meaningful look, but how many times does a character have to be proven wrong before he or she figures out that a little conversation can go a long way?

This sort of thing is overdone in YA fiction, and it drives me crazy, especially when a character is written to be as smart and inquisitive as Kami Glass. She’s a journalist! She’s comfortable cold calling strangers to ask about their potential involvement in sorcery and murder, but she can’t be bothered to ask her quasi-boyfriend how he really feels about her? I know she’s a teenager, but I just don’t buy it. She hasn’t been written as a pushover, so why does she have to fall into that stereotype when it comes to romantic relationships? I’m not saying never write that person, but newsflash: some teenagers are comfortable talking about their feelings! Some teenagers are actually pretty mature about these things, and it’s okay to occasionally portray such a person on the page.

Maybe it makes good drama. I happen to think murder and sacrifice coupled with a major family meltdown is plenty of drama. Why can’t dating be a little less…extreme? Why can’t it be more of a comfort in the midst of all the craziness? I remember very few people in high school bandying around the word “love.” Instead, there were group dates, and people to dance with and giggle over. There were parties, and hooking up, and girls getting pregnant. There were summer flings at camp, and major school year crushes. There were notes passed, and occasionally, two people got their shit together and actually dated for longer than three weeks. They were looked on with a certain awe because, regardless of what books and television want us to believe, few teenagers actually have the time and energy to be in love, and even fewer fall in love with people who love them back. Between homework, sports, work, band, etc, the teenagers I know have about fifteen minutes of free time a day. I don’t think most of them would even have time to deal with the crucial murder-y part of this story, much less that, plus magic,  a love triangle, and running the school newspaper!

I’m willing to suspend my disbelief about how little time these kids spend in school, how often they spend the night somewhere other than their own homes without so much as a check-in text with their parents, or how every day seems to be about forty-two hours long, but after all of that, my powers of suspension are pretty much spent. The only thing I have energy for in the end is Rusty and the self-defense classes he teaches in a little room above the grocery store. Because that’s helpful, and adorable, and he deserves all the love.

 

For more about Sarah Rees Brennan, go here.

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