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Review: Broken by Susan Jane Bigelow

>>Saturday, October 15, 2011

Title: Broken
Author: Susan Jane Bigelow
Series: Extrahumans #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 340
Genre: Dystopia, Super Hero Fiction
Publication Date: January 25th, 2011 (eBook) / November 22nd, 2011 (paperback)
Publisher: Candlemark & Gleam
Rating: B-

From Goodreads: In a post-war future world where First Contact has been made, humans are colonizing the stars, and the nations of Earth have been united under a central government, Extrahumans are required by law to belong to the Union. When a young man with visions of the future sets out on a mission to define the course of human history, he encounters a devastated former hero, a fascist dictatorship bent on world domination, and the realities of living in a society where affiliation is everything.

Broken figured she was done with heroics when she lost the ability to fly and fled the confinement of the Extrahuman Union. But then the world started to fall apart around her, and the mysterious Michael Forward entered her life, dangling the possibility of redemption and rebirth.

Michael Forward can see the future, but all he wants is to escape the destiny he has struggled against all his life. When the moment comes, though, he finds he can't refuse. Now he needs the help of a homeless ex-superhero to save a baby who may be the key to humanity's freedom.

Monica had a good life with her large family, until two strangers and a baby showed up at her door. Now her family is gone, her life is in ruins, and she's on the run from the law.

In a time of spreading darkness, when paranoia and oppression have overtaken the world, can three unlikely allies preserve a small ray of hope for a better, brighter future?

Why did I read this book? I was offered a review copy, and after I read the synopsis, I knew I couldn't pass it up. It's got superheroes!

Source: Review copy from publisher

My Review
When I was approached by new speculative fiction publisher Candlemark & Gleam to review Broken, I knew I had to try it. It's superhero fiction set around one hundred years in the future.

The first thing that really caught my eye about Broken was the raw and clever voice of the author. The story is told in just the right amount of detail without going overboard with what could be an info-dump disaster. I was often smiling at the straightforward and magnetic way the story of Broken is told. Broken, one of the main characters, is a former superhero who's lost her ability to fly and so she lives on the streets, never able to just die because of her other ability, super regeneration. She medicates herself with booze. Eventually a young man named Michael, traveling with a baby, finds her and pleads her for help. He's seen her in his visions of the future and knows she must help him get the baby off Earth to the colony of Valen in order to prevent horrible war.

The plot revolves around getting baby Ian off the planet while Broken and Michael are on the run from the government who is also looking for him. One hundred years in the future is a nasty place run by a corrupt governement. Even the leading superhero, Sky Ranger, is working with them. Everyday people are at risk, especially those associated with the old political party, the UNP. Their adventure is a harsh one, with many consequences, and I was engrossed all the way.

I wish the end didn't come so quick. There are still answers I'm looking for, such as why Broken lost her ability to fly. Is it psychological or is something else going on? How were the Extrahumans created or how did they evolve? What's happened in Earth's past?

Rating: B-
I really enjoyed Broken and would recommend it to those looking for a great superhero story with good world-building. Some say this is a young adult novel (maybe because Michael is around 16 years old), but I never got that feeling. It could be good for young adults or older, but it is definitely a gritty story. I thought the ending was great, especially with the ways Bigelow used Michael's visions as a way to foreshadow and also lead us astray. Even though you see glimpses of the future, I never saw some things coming. There's a sequel coming out called Fly Into Fire which I'd like to read and find out more about this world.

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