Monday, 22 July 2013

SPEECHLESS

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.


Okay, before I start reviewing this book, I have to mention the cover. That utterly hideous cover. I walked straight past this book about four times before I realised it's something I've wanted for months, because previously I'd only seen the US cover online. You can see that here, and there's another version here. So, yeah, I hate this cover. I think it's horrible. But don't let it put you off the book itself, because actually, it's really good.

I was intrigued by the idea, but I had my concerns about how it would actually work as a book. I mean, a main character who never speaks? That's got to be tricky. I worried for nothing because Harrington cheats and lets Chelsea have a white-board. I know that's not technically talking, but I feel like a vow of silence only means something if nobody knows what you're trying to say, if you're unable to communicate. I don't know, maybe I'm just being difficult, but I think it would have been more meaningful if Chelsea hadn't been able to communicate with anyone, although it would have been more difficult from a technical aspect.

One thing I really liked, though, was how realistic the situation leading to Chelsea's vow of silence was. I read a lot of high school books, many of which come across as completely unrealistic (I'm currently reading about a girl who ends up impersonating her long-lost twin sister, who's been murdered. Seriously.) but this was very good. I don't want to spoil how things progress for anyone, but there was never a moment when I thought this would never happen. Sure, there are a couple of things that seemed extreme to me, but it never crossed the boundary into ridiculous.

Chelsea is a really interesting character, who discovers a lot about herself across the book. By the end, I did feel like she'd made a genuine change, and one that was for the better. The other characters aren't as well drawn, they don't really stick out to me. I think Harrington tried to create the typical group of fake, very similar people and then a contrasting group of misfits. They were all a bit so-so - nothing wrong with them that I could point at and say that's what's wrong with this character, but they don't stand out either. But honestly, I enjoyed Chelsea's 'voice' and the story of this book so much that honestly, there was only one thing that kept me from loving it.

It's pretty sappy. Now, I accept that some people like sappy, and I accept that it does have its place. The problem is, I don't really do sap. Sure, I've read all four Twilight books, but I think they had enough sap in them to see me through for a lifetime. This book was just too much for me. I really liked it, but I would have loved it if it had had just a little more edge to it.



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