PJV Quickie: In Amelia Kahaney’s THE BROKENHEARTED you have a unique mix of superhero story, bleak dystopian scifi and young adult romance. Kahaney weaves them all together in an “out the box” delivery that left me thinking about this book weeks after reading it. Unique, tragic and delightfully gritty, Kahaney’s debut blew me away. Two words: “so good.”
Review: Set in an alternate reality, dystopian type environment, Anthem Fleet lives what seems like a charmed life. Anthem is the daughter of the richest couple in the city, Valedictorian and on her way to landing the Prima ballerina role in her ballet school’s performance. Even though she doesn’t view herself as that pretty, she is dating one of the best looking guys in the school and has a great friend that is always there for her. Things aren’t always as they seem though and Anthem’s days are filled with just ballet and school so she doesn’t have to think about her home life, where her mother is always medicated and her father is constantly working.
One night she decides to let her hair down with her best friend and they go to a South Side illegal party, where she meets Gavin. Gavin seems just as smitten with her as she is with him, even though he is from the wrong side of town and she has a boyfriend. She will never be able to tell her parents about him, but that doesn’t stop her from spending every moment at his side. Until one night she sneaks away to spend the night with him and a group of Syndicate, terrorist thugs, burst in and take him. They demand $250,000 from her, or they’ll kill him. Distraught, injured and unsure of her environment, Anthem flees Gavin’s place only to be accosted in the streets as she tries to get back to her building. Scared, she loses her footing and plunges into the freezing, polluted waters of the river.
Anthem awakens in a lab, used as a guinea, she had been dead for 45 minutes, but now she lives with a strange new heart that gives her superhuman powers. But, the only thing she can think about is getting Gavin back and revenge.
It was a wild ride! Look how much it took just for me to describe the opening part of the book?! And that doesn’t even cover it. You have the introduction of Anthem, who at first is all very innocent and whiny, with very little self-confidence. She has a boyfriend, Will, but is wowed by this hottie who saves her at a party and then is hell bent on winning her over. Painting murals of her, literally stalking her, that sort of thing. Gavin quickly pulls Anthem away from Will and they have this whirlwind romance.
One thing: I thought the romance was really forced. I understood that Anthem had never experienced anything like this before and just wanted to break away from her parents and this rich lifestyle, but I wish Kahaney would have developed that romance a bit more. You have her meeting him everyday, making-out and then into bed they go. Then when he is kidnapped you have her going berserk as she tries to recover him, willing to sacrifice herself for him, but I never felt the love. More like a teen crush. Because of the forced feeling of the romance, it led me to figure out the reveal at the end of the book, which I didn’t like. I like to be surprised. If I would have been able to fall in love with Gavin too, this book would have been a five star.
The world though was the main selling point. They promote this book as The Dark Night meets Cinder and a lot of reviewers have had issues with the obvious Batman inspiration. And yes, it was obvious. The city is called Bedlam. It is obviously comic book inspired, with quirky names for products, and drugs that were named for what they did (like in The Host). Anthem is a very rich girl, she has a driver who assists her in her vigilante pursuits, I’m pretty sure she’ll have a sidekick with either Ford, the boy that rescued her, or her over-the-top bestie in the next book. Kahaney did a great job with establishing a political climate, setting her backdrop and giving me as a reader, a look into the inner-workings of the city and the main focus of the entire story. She left me able to form impressions with the characters, not going overboard in descriptions of them, but painted the city in graphic detail. It was the best part of the book.
Overall it was just a unique book, with a quirky, almost odd coming together of plot. Anthem wasn’t the best leading-lady, but I have hope that she will be awesome as this series goes on.
I did find a few parts to be almost silly and unbelievable at times. The plot points that included Will were downright ridiculous, even though it led to Anthem taking charge herself. I do think that he will be a continuing issue in the series, which was the reason for his established behavior. I just found it off at times and could have been concluded easier then it was. You have quick-draw instincts with these Syndicate thugs, but the boy that is blackmailing you, well you just put up with it? Didn’t strike me as real.
And also, the predictability of one of the threads. Other then that, this was a total win. I’m hoping in the next book we get a lot more progression from Anthem. I really hope they don’t hook her up with Ford, because while I like him, I think our Anthem needs to focus on what is important. But, I don’t think that is going to happen, I’m pretty sure there will be an HEA in this series.
This is recommended for a mature teen audience, Anthem and Gavin do engage in a sexy scene and there is a lot of violence and killing. Fans of Rick Yancy and Beth Revis should enjoy.