Publisher: Pear Tree LLC/ Jen Frederick
Having read a fair amount of New Adult lately, I’m finding that there's a bit more ‘rough’ than diamonds in the rough out there. Unspoken is definitely a diamond – but a diamond that needs just a little more polishing until it reaches perfection.
Bo is not your typically college student. At 23 he’s already been a Marine stationed in Afghanistan, and carries more baggage than a sorority house sees on moving day. AnnaMarie, AM for short, carries just as much baggage after a series of rumors involving ‘‘extracurricular activities’’ with the entire Lacrosse team were falsely spread. The only two non-freshman in Biology class, Bo slyly groups the two together. Under the guise of schoolwork, Bo and AM spend increasing amounts of time together, showing the other who they really are beneath the baggage and rumors that they have been brandished with.
I appreciate NA without Insta-love immensely. Insta-love is so unrealistic and I typically lose interest the second it is introduced. Frederick really proved to the reader the relationship between Bo and AM, and why the two characters connected, long before they actually became a couple. As a reader you had to work towards the Happily Ever After, it wasn’t just handed to you, so you appreciated it that much more. I especially appreciated that once the two are together, they’re together. There is very little of the ‘what is going to break them up before they’re eventually brought back together’ drama. Bo and AMs relationship felt much more true and realistic to real life than most NA relationship do for me.
On top of a solid relationship, there is truly solid character development. Bo begins the novel aggressive and driven by a fear that he’ll cyclically repeat trauma’s he experienced as a kid. AM begins as reclusive, cutting herself off from campus life after the rumors began to heavily spread. Both Bo and AM push the other to address their pasts, and demand something different for their presents. They end up different people at the end of the novel, and the writing of their growth is very gradual, very realistic, and very well done.
What makes this diamond need just a touch more polishing considering all of the strong positives? First, sticking strongly to the now stereotypical NA structure of two damaged people making the other better. Though this element was very well done in Unspoken – it is no longer unique. Second, the idyllic way AM took control of the rumors really bothered me. *Spoiler?* Chastising a bunch of random college students about how the rumors affected her, and women in general, was almost eye roll inducing. While she made good points, there is no way she would receive the response she did from non-friends in real life.
NA readers are going to love Unspoken. The romance was solid; the characters are entertaining, interesting and well constructed; and the character development is expertly crafted. I think readers will scramble to get their hands on the first novel in the series Undeclared if they haven’t already, before book three comes out next year.
** I received a copy of this novel from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was in no way compensated.