Friday, May 20, 2011

Review: Broken by Susan Jane Bigelow

Series: [title pending]
Fly into the Fire (Bk #2 - January 2012)
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Publisher: Candlemark & Gleam
Read an Excerpt
Author Links:
Website || Goodreads || Twitter
Where to Purchase:
Kindle || Candlemark & Gleam
Reviewed by: Aimee
Source: Digital copy from Publisher
Rating: Win! 3.5 out of 5

Her body contorted and crackled, trying to piece itself back together in the time it takes to carve a turkey.
She writhed and spun in agony. Blood--hers--had soaked through all her clothes. The pain was unbearable, excruciating. She spat out a tooth, moaning in pain. A new tooth was already driving its way through her gum. She laughed and screamed at the same time. Ecstasy. She loved it. She loved it.
Broken was a very interesting book that left me a little ambivalent. It's a Dystopian, Superhero and Sci-fi fiction novel all rolled into one. Set 100 years in the future, earth has suffered through a devastating world war, made first contact with aliens, is now ruled by a worldwide fascist dictatorship and policed by corrupt recruits called "black bands."

The two main characters, Broken and Michael Forward, are "extrahumans." People who have developed special "superhuman" abilities. Distrusted by their government, extrahumans are isolated away from the world in a location called Union Tower. Under the guise of government enforcers, some are sent on missions to round up dissidents, but never allowed to leave without threat of imprisonment or death. They are trained, studied and observed under secretive, watchful eyes. There is a heavy Watchmen vibe to this story.

Broken's name is apropos. Suffering from a low self-esteem and memory loss, she is both emotionally and psychologically damaged. Possessing the ability to self heal, her body puts itself back together at an alarming rate whenever it's "broken." Wandering the streets as a vagrant, Broken is... "broken" in more ways than one and seeks oblivion in vast quantities of alcohol. Along with her memories, lost at a very young age, she's also lost her ability to fly, dissolving away her last viable thread of happiness. Susan Jane Bigelow did a great job developing Broken's character. The technique she used to take us back and forth from Broken's scattered flashbacks of the past, to her dismal present, had me instantly intrigued. Of all the characters in the book, she is definitely my favorite.

Michael Forward is a prescience. His special power is the ability to see all possible futures for a person by looking directly into their eyes. He's drawn, unwillingly, into a mission to find Broken and a baby that could change the entire future of the world for better or worse. Unfortunately, this journey is not an easy one. Michael is limited to seeing numerous possibilities with no clear or exact direction outlined. He's forced to weave his way through a maze of visions to keep himself, Broken and the baby on, what he hopes, is the path that will lead to the best possible outcome for the world.

What didn't I like?
There were a few things that bothered me. I loved the momentum the author created in the beginning of the story. But it disappeared somewhere in the middle. More specifically, around chapter 8. The writing took a turn that threw the story off balance. I think the author might have been trying to portray the passing of time while also allowing relationships to build between new characters. Unfortunately, I felt no more connected to the new characters or their relationships by the end, than I did in the beginning. What took up an entire chapter or two could have probably been conveyed in a few paragraphs.

The other thing that bothered me was my inability, at times, to make an emotional connection with some of the characters. Sometimes it was there, sometimes it wasn't. Most of the time I felt disconnected, like an outsider looking in, as opposed to being inside a characters thoughts and feelings. I can't put my finger on it exactly. Maybe the characters needed more internal dialogue? Whatever the case, it fell a bit flat for me. Which was disappointing, because the story has the potential to be an ace in the hole.

What I did like?
I was completely drawn into Broken's dark yet realistic world right from the Beginning. All the characters are interesting and believable. Even though it's a Sci-fi/fantasy about people with special abilities, the author does a great job of making it "feel" completely believable. While Broken and Michael are show stealers, the villain was equally intriguing. His dialogue was so well written I could actually hear him speaking in my head. Almost like the the villain that conducted experiments on the Dreaded Pirate Westley, in the Princess Bride, and then asked him how he was feeling in a calm passive voice.

Also, I like the fact that the heroes in this story are all very human despite their abilities. They all have flaws. They all have fears, doubts and insecurities. And despite the fact that some of them do things that are heroic, none of them are perfect knights in shining armor. Their just ordinary people with their own personal demons to conquer.

The story itself has a really strong plot and surprisingly, while the world building is simple, it successfully creates a realistic dystopian/Sci-fi environment. Broken starts off strong and ends with a satisfying conclusion that leaves the door open for a sequel. Fly into the Fire, book 2 in the series [which has yet to be titled], appears to be Sky Rangers story and is due for release January 2012 [tentatively].

My final verdict:
Aside from the few issues I had with the book, Broken was a Win for me. It's a dark and intriguing read that will introduce you to some unusual, colorful personalities and take you on an interplanetary, psychological and even a little spiritual journey. I would recommend it to fans of Dystopias, Superhero Fiction, Science Fiction, and fans of the Watchmen.

Fiction Fool Rating: Win! (3.5 out of 5)

The Cover:
I'm not really a fan of the cover. I guess it has an appropriate dystopian/post-apocalyptic feel. The person on the front is probably Broken, but it's a little ambiguous. I just don't think it does much justice for the story underneath.
ratingFiction Fool

Other Reviews:
Goodreads - 4.07 avg.


T.B. said...

Wow! This one sounds so intense and intriguing! I love dystopias, sci-fi, and superpowers so I think I'd like this one. Broken sounds so complex and a very well-developed character. I wonder where the plot goes in the story, and I can't wait to find out. Thanks for the amazing, and detailed review!

Fiction Fool said...

Wow. Thank you for the praise! I'm glad you liked it!

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

The world in this book sounds amazing. Great review!

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