Friday, October 05, 2012

Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Hey everyone! How are you doing? Me, I'm feeling much better than I did at the beginning of the week. I'm still a bit sick, but it should be gone by the week-end. Speaking of week-end, it's a long one for us in Canada :) Yep, it's our Thanksgiving on Monday and I'm thankful for the day off I get LOL. I'm also thankful to be out of my reading slump! Yay! I am going hiking tomorrow, but I hope the rest of the week-end, I'll be able to spend it reading up a storm :)

By the way, I'm really excited because yesterday, I got a phone call from one of the curling instructors I met last week. Gosh, has it been only a week? Anyway he asked me if I wanted to join a mixed curling team he was putting together! Apparently, the three other players have a good caliber and they know they're good, so they don't mind having a newbie playing lead for them :) So guess what? Starting in 2 weeks, I'll be playing curling twice a week! Most probably on Wednesday in the mixed league and on Friday in the TGIF league. This is really a good opportunity for me, because I'll be able to learn a lot and I'm just psyched I was asked! Woohoo!

Oh and enjoy the review!

Speechless by Hannah Harrington
published by Harlequin Teen in August 2012
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.
Genre: YA, contemporary
Series: None

The Story: Keeping secrets is not Chelsea Knot's specialty... and she's aware of it. However, she never expected for this weakness to have such dire consequences. When her latest blabbing gets a classmate beaten almost to death at her best friend's party, Chelsea feels horrible. But she knows things are about to become worst when she realizes she has to denounce the culprits or else, she won't be able to live with herself. Although she never expected for everyone to turn against her and make her the social outcast. It also doesn't make things easier that Chelsea, inspired by a National Geographic article of a Buddhist monk who have not spoken a word in sixty years, has decided to take a vow of silence and is therefore unable to defend herself or respond to the attacks.

And surprisingly to Chelsea, the only people who are nice to her, or at least will give her the benefit of doubt, are the victim's friends... people she would not have noticed before. And being on the other spectrum of popularity is really giving Chelsea a different perspective.

My Opinion: Well as you know, I picked this book because of Alex' review. I thought the story was interesting and I have to say, the idea of a vow of silence, very intriguing. I was wondering how the author and the heroine were going to pull it off. And overall, I think Ms Harrington did a good job and Speechless turned out to be an enjoyable read :)

The definite key to Speechless was the heroine, Chelsea Knot, as she was the central character of the book and everything was from her POV. As a result, her characterization would make or undo the book. Luckily for us, Chelsea turned out to be a really interesting character and made this book :) She was not 100% likable, but she didn't have to be and I'm glad that Ms Harrington understood this fact. Instead, what made me appreciated Chelsea's character is that there was a lot about her to admire and I think it made her more interesting. It made for a more complex character and also, more realistic. So what did I admire in Chelsea? The fact that she told the truth about what happened and denounced the culprits. She did hesitate a little bit, but that's normal, and in the end, she did the right thing without any prompting. It really took courage to do what Chelsea did. I think the vow of silence was inspiring and I admire her for sticking with it. There were so many instances where it would have been easy to break it, but she didn't. I also liked that Chelsea was quite an independent person. Yes, she liked the perks of being part of the popular group, of being the most popular girl's best friend, but she was her own person before and after and ultimately, she did not care what people thought of her. All of this made me like and admire her character. On the other hand, what didn't endear Chelsea's character to me was that in the beginning of Speechless, there were a lot of self-pity bouts. Those are normal given Chelsea is a teen and it helped made her character more realistic, so they weren't bad per se, but a little annoying for me given the whole situation. Also, I felt she was quite condescending with Asha at first. I don't know, but when you're the social pariah, you should quit looking people from so high. I'm not saying she should have been on her knees, grateful for the friendship... But I think she could have been a little bit less judgmental.

As for the rest of the book, I think it was good as well. I liked that Chelsea's actions, even though it was right, had a lot more repercussions than she expected at first. This added another layer of real-ness to Speechless in my opinion. I also liked the secondary characters, the new people Chelsea befriended, even though I thought they could have been developed a bit more. In addition, I have to say it was a bit typical of contemporary YA books ^_^; You know, the protagonist realizing what real friendship is and who are her/his friends... Still, I enjoyed it, especially Sam, who was the victim's best friend and was stuck with Chelsea on a project. I enjoyed seeing their relationship developed. True, it was a bit fast and easy, but with the timeline of the book, it worked. Speaking of the timeline, I felt the pace of this book was quite breezy. Usually, I would consider this a good thing, but given the whole situation... I think it would have been interesting to see Chelsea bogged down at times, instead of overcoming everything that was thrown at her. Life is not so simple - unfortunately ^_^; I think the reason why I feel this way is that as a social outcast, it seems to me Chelsea got off easy, that Ms Harrington sugar-coated reality a little bit. Yes, some of the things that was done were bad, but they could be a loooot worse :( At the same time, I'm glad because this is fiction... Do I want to read a book and see a teen being bullied with realistic meanness? Not really. Also, at the end, Speechless seems to end all nice and tidy and that's not real life either :(

My Grade: B. With a bit more development, I think Speechless could have been a very powerful book. Nevertheless, it was still a very solid novel with an interesting premise that the author managed to pull off and a very good overall message. I'm really glad I read this book :)