Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney

Summary (courtesy of Goodreads): A teenage girl is transformed into a reluctant superhero and must balance her old life with the dark secret of who she has become.

Prima ballerina Anthem Fleet is closely guarded by her parents in their penthouse apartment. But when she meets the handsome Gavin at a party on the wrong side of town, she is immediately drawn into his dangerous world. Then, in a tragic accident, Anthem falls to her death. She awakes in an underground lab, with a bionic heart ticking in her chest. As she navigates her new life, she uncovers the sinister truth behind those she trusted the most, and the chilling secret of her family lineage…and her duty to uphold it.

And here's what I thought:  I thought that there were some great ideas in this book, but overall, it felt like it didn't live up to them.

PLEASE NOTE - there are some spoiler-ish details ahead

I liked the setting, Bedlam City, which seemed dark and scary (and reminded me a bit of the setting for the movie, The Crow). I liked that this society seemed to be recovering from something, but in the interim, had invented some pretty dark coping methods, like some creative drugs.  I liked the idea of Anthem's heart, ticking away in her chest, and giving her some superhero qualities.  In fact, this element to the story is pretty enjoyable, and it's nice to see her evolve from how she is at the beginning to what she becomes after her new abilities become apparent.

But here's what I found a bit disappointing:  While there are some good ideas, there were things that weren't explained well.  For example, what happened in this world?  There is a crime syndicate, but it's not really explained.  There is mention of a "Hope" which makes you think there was a previous revolution, but that's not delved into.   The author has a descriptive writing style, which I mostly enjoyed, but then would notice time to time that she was falling back on certain words (like she has a few favorite words and didn't realize she was using them twice in 2 adjoining pages).    Also, as much as I found the main character to be interesting, I found her to be confusing.  She meets Gavin, who evidently isn't who he says he is, but she completely dismisses that -- apparently, he has some kind of superstrong attractive qualities that overwhelm her.  She barely knows him, and sleeps with him, and while that didn't bother me, the fact that she expects this extremely strong romantic relationship with him immediately seemed a little naive.  And maybe that's part of her story -- that she starts out as sheltered and naive, and throughout the course of the story, becomes more self-aware.  However, her reaction to what happens to him seems to be way too strong, considering that she barely knows him.   And seriously, I felt like I knew this guy right away ---- and that made the story kind of predictable to me.   But I know this might be because of my own reading background, etc etc --- other readers might not have the same reaction.

Overall, I didn't dislike this book, but I felt like it had a lot of potential that it just didn't quite live up to.   It's like an eye-candy kind of movie: lots of great visuals, but no strong storyline or characters that stand out.  I didn't feel betrayed, or super let-down, but it was disappointing.   It would be interesting to see what would happen if you gave this setting and some of the ideas to a different author, and then read their version.

First lines:  A girl, alone.
  Legs tucked up inside a baggy black hoodie, she perches on a metal grate atop one of the tallest skyscrapers in Bedlam City.  She is watchful, still and silent as a gargoyle.  The city heaves beneath her, but all she can hear this high up is the whistling of an icy wind.


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