Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Brokenhearted by Ameila Kahaney

The Brokenhearted
by Amelia Kahaney
Read: August 21 - 22, 2013
Published: October 8, 2013 by HarperTeen
Source: Around the World Arc Tours
Category: Superheroes, Sci-fi, YA


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.

The Dark Knight meets Cinder in this gripping and cinematic story of heartbreak and revenge. From Alloy Entertainment, this inventive new superhero story is sure to captivate any reader. (From Goodreads)



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I tried very hard to like The Brokenhearted more than I did. While it has some really fantastic moments, and a few characters I loved, they weren't enough to save the story for me as a whole. The beginning of the book was especially rough. In fact I barely made it past the first 75 pages. But I was told by a friend that it would get better, and I was determined to see that happen. While the second half was an improvement over the first, the story didn't get better enough for me to give it a stronger review. This makes me sad, because I think Amelia Kahaney has some really great ideas and several beautifully written scenes. I also love that she's exploring superheroes in the sci-fi, Batman way than straight fantasy. Unfortunately, the good parts got over cluttered by a crucial relationship that I never believed, too many plot directions and a vague setting. 

I never really connected to the main character Anthem. That is mostly because Anthem's relationship with one of the characters in the beginning of this story colors a lot of what happens throughout the entire book. I had several problems with the buildup of that relationship, especially on Anthem's part, causing me to have a lot of trouble connecting to her emotionally or sympathizing with her choices in the rest of the story. Anthem's relationship with Gavin moved too swiftly for one, causing it to read more like a cringeworthy insta-love than an intensely consuming and swoony romance. Guys, I'm actually not opposed to instant attraction, but this took it over the top in an uncomfortable way. Anthem's swift devotion to Gavin also felt a bit out of character from what she tells us of herself before that. Although I give the author props for what she attempted with the relationship, unfortunately, the risk made it hard for me to make it past the beginning of this book. That said, I did like how the love story progressed the second half of the novel. The romantic storyline develops differently from normal, and by the end of the book I was really digging it. 

There is a certain place in The Brokenhearted where something big happens to Anthem, and it causes her to makes a pretty dramatic change of life direction. Although I appreciate that the author didn't rush Anthem's transformation and her struggle to come to terms with herself, the way it was handled felt awkward and focused on too many unnecessary side plots. The worst of these side plots involved Anthem's former boyfriend Will. I actually think that I could have really liked the second half of the book, if he hadn't been so much a part of it. I can see what the author was truing to do with him, but I felt like his role was unnecessary and redundant. I also think that Anthem's struggle to reconcile her Before and After lives, could have been explored solely through her relationship with her friend Zahra. 

Anthem lives in the city of Bedlam, but we don't have any context around this one city. No info about where in the United States it is (if it's even in the US), except that it has kudzu and also frozen lake near it - two things which don't usually go together (kudzu in the south east, frozen lakes in the north). However, Bedlam appears to be in an alternate or future US. I could sort of forgive the lack of world building, because it read very much like a vague comic book setting (Bedlam seems a lot like Gotham). But though that type of vagueness doesn't bother me in superhero movies (I'm not a comic book reader so not sure how its handled there), it was hard for me to forgive in book form. The alternate names for cars and drugs were all little bit silly and made the story seem even more fantasy like. But if I had been sold on the rest of the book, I would not have minded the setting as much. 

As I said, The Brokenhearted does have some really great moments throughout (see below for my list of loves), and I especially liked the direction that the book takes in its final chapters. This book got better as soon as Ford and Jax were introduced, and scenes of Anthem awakening and using her powers were well written. I also enjoyed when the story focused on Anthem's new understanding of the politics and criminal activity of Bedlam. I only wish we gotten more of those ideas sooner. There's a really interesting revelation at the very end of the story that I thought was a great set up for the next book, if there is one. Actually, if the storyline continues in that direction, I would definitely consider picking it up, despite my disappointed reaction to this book. 

I loved: 
1) Every interaction between Anthem and Ford, Rufus or Serge. I also liked Anthem's friendship with Zahra. 

2) Visiting Hades, a really cool place that fascinated me and gave me the creeps.

3) The fact that Anthem is a ballerina. I loved the scenes where she dances and tests her limits. Those were beautiful and extremely well written, and a fantastic way to show the contrast between before and after. 

4) When Anthem starts getting angry and takes out the bad guys, vigilante style. I wish we'd gotten more of that plot direction. But it took a long time to get there.

5) I also really liked the general idea of this book. I thought some of the plot was great conceptually, and I like where anthem's journey brought her. The very end/set up for book two (if there is one) was fantastic - and one of the few elements that surprised me.

I wish: 
1) The buildup of Anthem's relationship with Gavin had been believable. That relationship sets the mood for the entire book, and because I never connected with it, I had a hard time emotionally connecting to Anthem. 

2) Will had been expunged from this book. He was a distracting presence/storyline. 

3) The world building had been stronger. I wish the setting had either been in a real US city, or the author had gone farther with this one, and created a larger world around Bedlam. 

4) We'd learned more about The Hope and what happened to him. That felt like a dropped storyline. If there is another book, I hope there's more about who/what he was. And the people who surrounded him. 

5) I wish I had enjoyed The Brokenhearted more. This is one of those books that has potential leaking off the page, and it could have been great with some subtractions and a few changes in focus. But, I'm afraid many people won't even make it past the first 75 pages. 

Love Triangle Factor: unconventional but Mild
Cliffhanger Scale: Low. But end is a definite set up for another book. 

17 comments:

  1. I'm not opposed to insta-attraction either. Insta-love is a different story all together. I'm glad you enjoyed the romance in general:) I love how you put it in a superheroes genre and that there are superheroes in this one. Love me some Marvel and I'm secretly a superhero nerd at heart:) Sad that you didn't connect with the MC. I just finished a book last night where, unfortunately, I didn't form any connections with the MC either and it may have very well been the downfall of the book. Yeah, in movies we often see things visually rather than someone telling us why, where, who etc. So it's crucial for a book to explain all the details when we're dealing with an alternate universe or future cities/countries etc so I understand your frustration. I'm sorry you didn't like this that much. Perhaps the next one will improve remarkably and you'll be able to pick that one up:)

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    1. I agree completely that there is a difference between insta-attraction and insta-love. I think people also throw in instsa-trust. I think you can be attracted to someone but be wary of them, and that's pretty much where Anthem went wrong here. As a superhero lover, I'm not sure if you'd get into this one more or less? But I would be curious to see a reaction from someone who IS into that genre. I actually think I WOULD read the next book, especially if it continues in the direction it seems to be going a the end of this one. But with such low reviews, I'm not certain if it will get there. The thing is, this book does have some good elements, they just get clouded out by some very distracting ones.

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  2. Yup, this isn't for me. I dislike insta-love more than love triangles because of the fact that it takes away from the character connections in the story, so I know I'd struggle a lot with this. Most readers have been disappointed by it, so I'll be skipping it for sure. Thanks for the honest review, Lauren!

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    1. You're right, K. Don't read this book! I don't think you'd make it past the first 50 pages anyway.

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  3. An unconventional love triangle? That has me curious! I'm bummed the relationship with Gavin progresses to the utter devotion stage so quickly though. Like you, I'm all for instant attraction, that happens and I find it extremely believable, but when a guy suddenly becomes a girl's whole world I start to struggle. I'm glad the romance was a little better in the second half and ends up being something you were rooting for. I'm still interested in this one, but I'm definitely going to go in with some lower expectations and we'll see what happens! Gorgeous review as always Lauren!

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    1. I will say that in the end, I thought that the love story was very interesting. It was certainly uniquely built. Though some of it didn't work for me, I give the author props for going with something a little risky. If you are planning to read this, I will give you the same advice that I was given, Try to make it past the first 75 pages at least. Things change a lot at that point. I hope you do end up enjoying this one! It needs some love.

      Also, on an unrelated note. I think you should for sure read THE QUEEN'S THIEF series, but I will give you a secret that the first book THE THIEF is the slowest of them all. It's not a long book, but you HAVE to make it past the first half at least before it starts getting really good. Book 2 and 3 are amazing (3 is my favorite), but I think people get discouraged at 1 a little bit. By the end, you will appreciate it, but some of the background in the book is slightly tedious. It is the type of series where you want to keep going back and reading small scenes over and over, because they are so delicious. Yum!

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  4. Excellent critical review! Not only did you point out the book's flaws, but you also found redeeming qualities about it -- which will always be helpful to readers. :)

    If I picked this one up, the lackluster world building would be a problem for me. Depending on the writing, I might forgive the hastiness of the budding romance, but distracting subplots that stilt the progress of the true plot, will almost always annoy me. With that said, I'm not entirely sure if I would give this one a try. Though I'd be lying if a superhero book didn't spike an interest. If I did give Brokenhearted a shot, it would have to be a library loan.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

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    1. Thanks, Marlene. I really tried to be fair about this one. It does deserve some praise, and I hate to just trash a book. The world building is definitely an issue, though it's possible that could be solved in future books. The romance is interestingly put together, though it's hard to talk about without spoiling. But I'm still not sure I can recommend it as a whole.

      Good idea to get this one from the library! Then there's no risk if you don't like. BUT if you do decide to read this one, try to make it past the first 75 pages at least to determine whether you want to continue it. That's my advice.

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  5. Oh, snarkies. That's too bad. I do love this cover and the premise is fabulous. But, yanno, when you have a hard time connecting with a main character, it's hard to really get into the book. It sounds like the structure and worldbuilding's there, though. Maybe it just needed some stronger editing and cutting? I'll have to give it a try and see how I feel about it.

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  6. Hmm...I'm not sure whether I should read this or not. Not connecting with the MC usually means I don't like the book, but the unconventional love triangle and the idea that the author takes some risks with the book and does things a little differently is intriguing. Great review! ~Pam

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  7. I just can't get over the Batman similarities-thing. I love him too much to have a book that is too similar to his story in any way and be a disappointment. Regardless of love triangles, insta-whatever, positives or negatives - I'll have to wait and see if this series (?) improves before I even consider putting it anywhere close to my radar. That may sound silly, but I'm wearing a Batman belt today, to put it into perspective. Thanks for taking one for me, Lauren!

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  8. You know, the premise sounded intriguing to me, but it made me wary, too. It sounds like a fun idea that just didn't really deliver--I'm sorry you were disappointed in it, though it's good that you enjoyed it enough to continue with the series. The romance being handled well is a big plus, though.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  9. Oh, hey- I didn't know you also use ATWT :). Fantastic tour site, isn't it? And I very nearly signed up for this one because... The Dark Knight meets Cinder? YEAH!! But I heard it was a packaged book from Alloy, and I was worried it'd fall to the same fate as the Vampire Diaries series.

    "The beginning of the book was especially rough. In fact I barely made it past the first 75 pages. But I was told by a friend that it would get better, and I was determined to see that happen." <-- This sort of reminds me of the Bone Season. I don't quite understand why this happens. I always find the beginning to be the most important part of the book - to hook you in so people don't DNF, but then there are books like this...

    "I also love that she's exploring superheroes in the sci-fi, Batman way than straight fantasy." <-- Interesting that you say that. It's true that most YA does emphasize the latter for superhero themes, though if they're superheroes in the sci-fi, Batman way, I feel like they have a lot more to prove.

    "Anthem's relationship with Gavin moved too swiftly for one, causing it to read more like a cringeworthy insta-love than an intensely consuming and swoony romance." <-- Yikes. So yikes. I understand instant attraction too, but I bet I'd think the same of the romance. Plus even instant attraction sometimes bothers me in YA - depends on how it's described.

    "3) The fact that Anthem is a ballerina. I loved the scenes where she dances and tests her limits. Those were beautiful and extremely well written, and a fantastic way to show the contrast between before and after." <-- Also really nice because you don't see a whole lot of ballerinas in YA. You see so many artists, so many sketchbooks, and a few writers too, maybe even regular dancers, but very few ballerinas.

    Hmmm. Sounds like Will is the unnecessary love triangle? Unconventional love triangles are sometimes okay to read about, but with the insta-love between the other two characters, sounds like it's another unnecessary one.

    Sorry that this one didn't quite live up to its potential, but here's to hoping you like your next read :).

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  10. Yeah, I didn't even request this one. Sometimes you just KNOW a book isn't going to be a good fit for you, ya know? The sad thing is, I really like stories about superheroes, but all the ones I've read lately have been less than stellar. Either they're too cutesy or they're too messy in the way they're told, and neither is appealing. Sorry this was such a disappointment. :(

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  11. I'm very picky when it comes to sci-fi, so I never really requested this one and your review makes me happy about my decision because I would've been the person to DNF it at 75 pages. Yup, not a patient reader! Anyways, I love that the romance turned out to be good besides the earlier hiccup and the story uplifted by the second half. Great review, Lauren! :)

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  12. I skimmed because I'm hoping to get to this soon, but now I'm getting NERVOUS about reading it. :(

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  13. I liked this book more than you as you know, but I actually love all the points you brought up in this review, things that worked and things that didn't. I think where we differ is that those that didn't work with you bothered me less for some reason. On some things we can agree: Will was unnecessary. Ford, Rufus and Serge were amazing, loved their interactions with Anthem. And I loved the vigilante, street justice, bad-assery of Anthem late in the book. Wish there had been more of that.

    I hope that Kathany will write a second installment, because I feel like this book didn't hit it's groove until closer to the end. I'd like to see if a follow up would work through this book's inconsistencies.

    Great review, L:)

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