Title: Broken Angel
Author: Sigmund Brouwer
Sigh. This one had a great promise: Christian Fundamentalists end up seceding from the United States and become a territory called Appalachia. The world they set up is kind of a Christian Big Brother. People are stoned to death for their crimes and illiteracy is mandated because the “all-seeing” Bar Elohim deems that the ability to read, or have access to the bible is dangerous; all the priests learn their liturgy from an audio book.
In this word there is a girl named Caitlyn. She is on the run from a bounty hunter for reasons she doesn’t understand. All she knows is that she must get “Outside” and that per her Papa, she musn’t allow herself to get captured – living or otherwise.
And what I’ve told you is about as deep as the book ever gets. We never get any real insight into who she is. I couldn’t describe her character in anything other than a physical sense. Her secret is ridiculously easy to figure it out: I had it solved in the first few pages. This not only makes the big reveal anti-climatic, it makes her musings on what is happening to her feel unimportant.
Another character we learn is a runaway whose parents was stoned to death and he talks a lot. That’s about it. There’s also a bounty hunter who can only be described as a pyschopath. He has no qualms against torture, and it’s made clear that “women suffer at his hands” more than men and it’s been implied that he has and enjoys raping women. The characterization in this book just isn’t deep, so if you like that sort of thing, look elsewhere.
And that world that had promise? The world building is okay at best. For every neat tidbit – like communion wafers being doctored with opium to make the citizens feel like God is with them and that Church is the place to be there’s then an element that doesn’t quite make sense like the citizens do have access to internet-enabled computers (content censored of course) but the computers are run with pictographs since they can’t read. Is all information read to them? And the explanation for why they went from cars to horses is meh at best.
Really “meh” is a good description for this book. It just kind of is, and it’s short to boot at only 243 pages. It’s the first in the series and feels like another book that was purposefully cut shot so that a series could be made.
This book is the author’s 18th so he clearly has a following and I can see why because it was a quick read. It’s just ultimately insubstantial and didn’t give me any reason to care about these characters. And if you don’t care about the characters and the world building isn’t enough to keep you going why should I keep read? I won’t, and you can find something better to read.
Verdict: Don’t bother.