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)
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.
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.
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.