Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Published by Harlequin (UK)
3.5 out of 5 stars
Released 1st Feb 2013 – order yours here
There has been a buzz about Hannah Harrington, with bloggers and reviews talking about her fresh writing style and captivating, yet real, story worlds (I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea). So it comes a no surprise that Speechless was on my to-read list, I had to know if she was worth all the fuss.
Speechless is the story of Chelsea Knot. Written from Chelsea’s POV, its obvious that she is a bit of a gossiper, and is known for being unable to keep a secret, she’s the BFF of the ‘IT’ girl, Kirsten and revels in being the ‘mean girl’ stereotype that seems to fill todays high schools. Chelsea doesn’t care what people think of her, she thinks nothing of blackmailing a girl thats seeing a friends boyfriend secretly, she’s popular and thats all that matters. Then comes the big ‘bang’ Chelsea spills a secret in true Chelsea style, without thinking about the consequences, which are BAD. Then doing the right thing (ironically, telling a secret about a friend) gets her thrown out of the popular crowd and into social outcast-ness. So she decides that as her words cause so many problems she should stop speaking all together, and takes a vow (albeit to herself) of silence. Life begins to change, Chelsea finds the value in silence and seeks out true friendship along the way.
Yeah. It really did run a bit like a true movies special I’m afraid. It was obvious and the story lazy, and in all honesty not that well thought out. I mean a vow of silence, yet she can cough to get peoples attention, write things down, laugh, text etc – surely the point of silence is to be aware of your surroundings, and your life not to find other ways to talk. But its ok because their ‘Chelsea’s rules’ and as she made up the vow (which she didn’t – she stole it from a National Geographic) she can make up the rules. Hmmm….. The idea is actually pretty good, I was keen to the read the book and find out all the Chelsea learnt about herself, except she really didn’t. Her final act of ‘revenge’ was to spill a secret (this time to those in authority) that was totally self serving, and she took pleasure in it – so what exactly has she learnt? To stay out of peoples business – nope. To keep things to herself – nope. Not to mess with peoples lives – nope. Nothing. And to top it all her new friends are all ok with it, in fact they help her?! I just don’t get it, and it ruined the book for me. I understood the message about bullying, but lets face it, all teens know bullying is bad, yet they still do it, the message wasn’t new or innovative, in fact it was a little far fetched for me (the vow of silence thing, after the incident – how many teens are EVER going to do that?!) and it meant I was even less engaged in the story. I gave the book 3.5 stars, but now I’m writing the review I’m wondering if that was too generous, I’ll stick with it for now.
Harrington’s is a good writer, the best in YA fiction at the moment? Not at all, that crown goes to many more accomplished writers, but she can write a story that draws you in, despite the flaws. I liked the fact that Chelsea was a brat (and she really was) and she’s not likable at all, it made the story more interesting. The supporting cast were a little predictable, nobody barring Asha stood out as unique, and even Asha wasn’t a shining star. I wouldn’t say no to any other Harrington books, but I’d be expecting less of them, thanks to Speechless. There was so much more to do with the story, and I was left feeling like I’d been hard done by, that Harrington had taken the easy route with it, rather than really tackling the issues such a vow might of thrown up.
ARC/eGalley kindly provided by NetGally in exchange for an honest review.