Broken Lies by Claire Vale

For those wondering about the difference between post apocalyptic and dystopian, here’s a book that start firmly in one genre but inexplicably jumps into another abruptly at the end. More introduction to a series than first book, Broken Lies was very underwhelming. Characters lacked development, spark, or chemistry, the worldbuilding implausible and unrealistic, and a plot that limps around a soppy love triangle and simplistic teens left me uninvested. Despite being bored with a lot of the book, I stuck with it hoping for something interesting to happen at the end; what I got was a very anticlimactic ‘twist’ prefacing a Hunger games Redux story (all at the last few pages).

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Story: Global warming unleashes a virus from the arctic ice; it turns the world to zombies and everything falls apart fast. 30 years later, Lake is living in an enclave outside of London; they believe they are the last to survive in the world but Lake lives a fairly care-free life beyond the walls. She’s madly in love with Ash, about to graduate, and has a great BFF Eva. Despite being great at fashion design and being offered an apprenticeship to do that trade, she instead decides to join the guards (after all, in British English, ‘guard’ and ‘god’ sound the same, as the book notes). What should have been a simple assignment with her buds instead spirals into discovering an ugly truth about vaccines and protection against the virus. Beware the Irish!

The teens in the book are pretty basic and generic. Sure, we don’t have any annoying unique snowflakes; but at the same time, I would have liked to see some strength of character to justify the plot twist at the end in which they find themselves. The conclusions about character were ludicrous and once again we have government types who are so stupid, it’s a wonder. All the government leaders’ decisions and actions were so bizarre and clearly deus ex machina; at first I thought it was leading up to a great twist but in reality, it was just silly. But at least they weren’t evil and greedy, which seems to be the trend in the genre.

I didn’t really like any of the characters – from the painful lack of chemistry in a love triangle to the BFFs who felt like cardboard caricatures of real people. No one felt real or with any depth or nuances to flesh them out. After awhile, it was really easy to skim since nothing much was really happening and no one very interesting.

The plot jumps all over the place but there are some real head scratching moments. E.g., in a small post apocalyptic village, why in the world do they need not one but five apprenticeship spots for high end fashion designers? Where do they get the fabric? Where would they wear the fancy clothes? With the world falling apart, why would this be something they would foster? Why aren’t the kids taught any survival skills beforehand? Why are the kids so carefree and happy-go-lucky in a world gone to hell? There are more problems that bothered me but they would reveal spoilers if a put them in this review; but they left me annoyed with the lack of a grounded world. And as for the zombies? You get one scene or so and then by the end realize that the series isn’t about them or fighting them (read: it’s Hunger Games!). The zombies felt pointless and that was a shame.

I do enjoy reading the YA dystopian and post apocalyptic genre. But I also want depth and nuance, tight worldbuilding, and believable characters. More so, it’s hard to get into a heroine who is ineffectual, weak, and spends most of her time mooning over a boy who is cheating on her after telling her he loves her. That made her not only ineffectual but also kind of stalkerish and simple. Not great qualities for someone who supposedly is among the last survivors in a devastated world.  Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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