Broken by Kelley Armstrong was recommended by someone from the Think Sideways forums. After reading 200 pages of the 480-page novel, I had to put it down for good. Why?
I just wasn’t feelin’ it.
Elena seemed like an interesting woman, being a pregnant werewolf and all, but I wasn’t able to connect with her. It felt like something was missing or that I missed something. Her relationships, all new to me, were written as if they’d been around for 15 years or more. Secondary characters were, again, brand new to me, but written as long-time acquaintances of Elena and the Pack. “Mutts” were never defined so I was forced to draw my own conclusion.
After doing a little research on the book, I found out Broken is Book 6 of 10, as of January 2010, in Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. So that’s why I felt like I was missing a bunch of details. I thought the author either assumed I could pick up on subtle clues or simply decided not to give any backstory. I’m really happy to know it’s just because she assumed readers of Book 6 would’ve already read Book 1.
As an avid reader of the Harry Dresden series sometimes I get a little bored re-reading the details I know and love in almost every book. But now I know why Jim Butcher rehashes things about Harry in each book of the series: It’s in an effort to grab the new reader with Book 6 in the same way he grabbed me with Book 1. I have to agree with Butcher’s approach over Armstrong’s — I would rather re-read those details as a loyal reader than miss them as a new reader.
The plot of Broken was interesting and I enjoyed what Armstrong did with the Jack the Ripper mystery. However, I’m torn about her use of zombies. Part of me liked what she did, but a bigger part doesn’t. The zombies were people, dead and rotted, but they were able to function like living people – walk, run, talk, use logic, have sex – and certain zombies could be controlled by another person, almost like a demon or evil spirit. Yeah, I wasn’t diggin’ that so much.
I think the biggest reason I couldn’t connect with Elena was she never seemed vulnerable to me, at least not in the 200 pages I read. There were a few suspenseful scenes, but mostly about whether she’d catch someone, not that someone would catch her. She was constantly protected by the Pack or her ability to change to wolf form. I’m all about chicks who are their own heroes and don’t need saving, but the protagonist has to be at risk for more than one or two scenes to engage my interest and earn my emotional investment.
Again, this could all tie into the fact that I haven’t read the five books before this one, and I’m missing out on the history and character development that Armstrong has done up to this point.
Perhaps, I will pick up Bitten and give Elena another shot.
Have you read any of the Women of the Otherworld series? Should I give Bitten a read?
Kelley Armstrong official web site
DISCLAIMER: I know this post is not a formal review of the above novel. It is more of a way for me to track my response to the book, what I liked and didn’t like, and note anything in particular that grabbed my attention. In doing so, I hope these notes will help readers gain additional insight about the book.