Sunday, May 10, 2015

Review:: Broken, by Susan Jane Bigelow

Title: Broken
Author: Susan Jane Bigelow
Format: Paperbook
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Annoying, eye-rolling dialogue paired with cardboard cut-out characters, Broken really fails to hold its own. Then the book tries to deal with issues like trauma, polyamory, and anarchism, but does so in a way that just makes the author uniformed. Oh, and the book is padded. Huge margins and text, so the publisher could make it to 300 pages.

Broken follows the story of a fourteen-year-old who is given a kid by a woman before she throws herself in front of a train. He has to do the right things so that the child will save the world. He's aided in doing these things because he can see future possibilities if he looks in someone's face. He knows he needs to pick up a woman who renamed herself Broken after she lost the ability to fly or else... bad vague things will happen.

The dialogue is all written in short sentences with the same structure. It doesn't matter who's talking. And sometimes it was just so terrible, not from structure, but from content, that I couldn't figure out if I was laughing or crying at it.

Broken is broken and we know it because she calls herself Broken. She shows plot-convenient brokenness, but nothing approaching what I've seen in meatspace. Just so shallow.

Oh, and so one of Broken's friend is living in a poly household. And they just go on and on about how alien this is. (Literally. Apparently standard-ish poly households were brought to Earth by an alien culture and everyone things it's oh so weird. Um.)

At another point, they end up with the American Liberation Army, who fits the standard stereotype of preppers, but see, America is gone now because there's a world government. And stuff. And everyone hates the extrahumans because they're too powerful. And stuff. Oh, but so the ALA has to deal with these anarchists but everyone laughs at the anarchists and they just aren't what you'd expect!

The characters are stupidly one-dimensional, too. They are either evil-evil or good-good, except for one who basically has some pretty good points, but then he clearly is also evil. Which is funny because he makes a statement about how there's no such thing really as good and evil. But then he goes and does evil stuff.

Here's the thing: I get this is YA. But just because someone's a teenager doesn't mean they're stupid and you have to treat them like they can't read. It's possible to create engaging literature aimed at young adults that isn't simplistic in content or prose. It still should be readable and accessible and contain themes that teenagers are interested in.

But don't treat kids like they're stupid. Because chances are, if they've picked up your debut novel published by a small press, they're a reader. Kids who aren't avid readers don't stumble upon stuff like that. And kids who are avid readers can handle a book that challenges them in more ways than one.


  1. Oh dear. *sigh* I had this one to read somewhere...