Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Review: Speechless - Hannah Harrington


Sometimes it is really difficult and even scary to speak up for what you believe is right, but it’s important to do. At the end of the day you answer to yourself, no one else, so you’ll be happy you did.
Hannah Harrington


Chelsea Knot is an incorrigible gossip, she admits it herself on the very first pages of Speechless. She’s also an impetuous sixteen-year-old teen who makes mistakes. One of those mistakes leads to a boy being beaten up and almost dying. Blaming herself and her own words, Chelsea makes a vow of silence and starts her month long road to self-discovery.

She’s still an impetuous sixteen-year-old girl at the end of the book, but she’s also a stronger person and a better human being. 

Only a few days ago I wrote a long review for Beautiful Disaster pointing out some of the authorial mistakes in that book, one of which was the lack of character growth in a so-called character driven story. I feel like I should give this book to Jamie McGuire, and tell her to read and learn. 

This could be a handbook to how character driven YA novels should be written. 

The character gallery is familiar. We have the popular girls and boys as well as the outcasts and the people who blend in all sorts of groups. Unlike Bella Swan and every other YA protagonist that followed her, Chelsea likes being popular and using the power that comes with it. She’s not perfect and knows her shortcomings, but she’s not focusing on them—well, not more than any other teenage girl would when shopping for bras. 

They? Incorrect plural usage!

There’s Brendon, the gorgeous smart guy she has a crush on, but who isn’t without his faults. There’s Kristen, Chelsea’s best friend, the superficially inclined popular girl who runs the high school’s social circles but whose shell has its own cracks. There’s Warren, Joey, Derek, and there’s Asha, Sam, Andy, and Noah. All of whom felt like real characters despite their limited appearance in the book. 

And, believe it or not, there are adults. They don’t overshadow the teenage angst or drama, but they are a presence. On a second thought, I could show this book to Maggie Stiefvater too: Yes, it is possible to write a YA novel where the teens have problems and strong parent figures as well. It can be done.

Where was I? The vow of silence. As you can imagine, it’s not easy. Chelsea learns to communicate without words and to bite her tongue when she’s mocked, ignored, or worse. She wallows in narcissistic self-pity like only a teenager can, but she also recognises it. She realises she can’t stay silent forever, but that doesn’t stop her from wanting to the words that’ll break her silence to mean something. In a way, as young as she is, she’s also mature in a way that I can’t remember being at that age. Maybe Chelsea has better friends than I did. 

Good for her. Who wants to be a virgin forever?

One more thing I must mention. For a while, I was absolutely dreading the romance aspect of this book. I could not see how it would work, because there wasn’t any chemistry between Chelsea and Brendon. I shouldn’t have fretted. It’s safe to say that Harrington has earned my trust and I’ll never doubt her again. 

I make a point of not adding anyone to my favourites list until I’ve read at least two separate novels from them and two novels of the same series don’t count. The can’t be connected. I broke that rule for Harrington for the simple reason that I love how she writes.

Do I think this book could have been any better? No. Unfortunately, I don’t give five star ratings to perfect books; I give them to books that change me. As touching as Speechless was, it doesn’t quite fit that category. 



I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Series: N/A
Pages: 288 (paperback)
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: HarlequinTEEN
ISBN: 9780373210527
Published: August 28th 2012
Source: NetGalley

38 comments:

  1. Speechless caught my interest earlier this week, but now that I have read you review I am definitely adding it to my wish list. :)

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    1. I'm slightly biased after I read "Saving June" but I really like Harrington writes. I hope you'll like it too.

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  2. Wow, now I see you can also write positive reviews! Wow...

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    1. I know! Sometimes I surprise myself too.

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  3. Ok, you have me convinced to read this book now.

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  4. This review made smile because it pointed out some of the trends in YA that annoy me. But it was way funnier than my frustrated rants. I'm glad that Speechless improved on these trends. It certainly makes me want to read it. I'm still in shock that there were present parents and the teens still managed to have problems. Lol.

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    1. I know, shocking, isn't it. Adults and teens do coexist!

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  5. Thanks again for the review :)

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  6. Hm.. now on one hand this doesn't sound like something I'd enjoy. On the other... I am curious about her writing.

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    1. It's a YA book, but I truly think it's better than most of the American YA novels I've read. Harrington is a good young author to try if you're interested in the genre.

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  7. Thanks for another wonderful review! I may have to look into this. *ponders*

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    1. Thank you. If I didn't manage to convince you, there are other reviewers (at least on Goodreads) who've read and even enjoyed it.

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  8. I really enjoyed Speechless. This could have come off really dumb and cheesy, especially in the romance department but Harrington did a fantastic job of avoiding all common YA cliches.
    As you mention in your review...OMG there were parents!!
    I actually enjoyed but had a few issues with her first novel Saving June because of the lack of but I'm glad I have the author another chance.

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    1. I didn't have the problem with Saving June mostly because of the plot. It's a bit difficult to drag parents along an illicit road trip, n'est-ce pas? But I'm also glad that Harrington managed to avoid that trap in this book. Can't wait to read more from her.

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  9. Nice review, glad to hear it had substance.

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    1. Thanks. It was a joy to read too.

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  10. Glad that you enjoyed. I also really loved the character development in this one.

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you liked it too.

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  11. on my wishlist. i hope i read it soon . gr8 review

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  12. Fabulous review that has me taking a second look at this title!!

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    1. Thanks. I believe it's worth that second look.

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  13. I should have requested this, but alas I am working on that TBR. This is an author I keep reading rave reviews about so I feel compelled to try her soon!

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    1. I hope you get to read this soon-ish. I have my own tbr mountain to get through, so I sympathise.

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  14. Lol I Was waiting for the picture to download, when I realized that was the cover. Glad you enjoyed this one!

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    1. Thanks. There's an alternative cover edition for Australia, I think, but I prefer the simpler one.

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  15. I've been seeing reviews for this book everywhere this week. I'm glad the romance pulled through, especially if it was unexpected that it would work. I have yet to try anything by Harrington, so I think I might start with this one.

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    1. The book just came out, so it's to be expected that a deluge of reviews would be posted as well. I hope you get to read the book and that when you do you'll like it.

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  16. your reviews always make me smile. I saw this book a lot and well I think I should have tried it when I could. It sounds nice.

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    1. Thanks. Well, now you know to keep an eye out for Harrington's books and see if you'll like it.

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  17. I've seen mixed reviews for this one and have held off as I didn't want a disappointing experience, especially after enjoying Saving June

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    1. Most of my GR friends liked the book and I haven't seen any negative reviews for it myself. I don't know what triggered the disappointment in others, but if you liked Saving June there's a good chance you'll like Speechless as well, though maybe not quite as much.

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  18. I saw this book around but never thought of picking it up... the cover is so plain and I am a visual reader, that means the cover has to be attractive too. I know, I am shallow that way :) ...but you make it sound like the story telling quality is compelling!....

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    1. I've fallen a victim to a pretty cover or three myself, but I usually try not to let it dictate my reading list. In this case, I reacted to the author name rather than the cover and I can't even imagine walking past it in a shop.

      I certainly liked it, but if you're undecided you should read a couple other opinions before making up you mind.

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