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Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer

Broken Angel (2008)

by Sigmund Brouwer

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1644372,634 (3.58)20
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Imagine a world in the not too distant future, with a truly dystopian big-brother-is-watching type of society. Add in a caste-like system in the new city-states in the United States, and a government sponsored, human genetic manipulation program. Now imagine that there is a sovereign theocratic "country" bordered by these city-states and you get just a hint of the setting for Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer.

Broken Angel is the first in Caitlyn Brown series and focuses on the life of a young girl. Caitlyn knows that she is different and honestly believes this difference is due to her physical deformities. Her father, Jordan, has kept her relatively isolated but knows that she must venture "outside" Appalachia to receive the medical assistance she requires. The only things that can potentially stop their escape to "the outside" are the bounty hunters on their trail. Jordan forces Caitlyn to run by herself, hoping that she'll stick to the map he's provided and his instructions. He hopes to lay a false trail giving her time to get as far away as possible.

After Jordan is captured, Sheriff Mitch Carney acknowledges that all is not as it should be in his small town. People are required to carry vidpods (presumably similar to iPods) at all times to receive special notices and bulletins from their leader, Bar Elohim. Each town in Appalachia is limited in size to three thousand people, because smaller towns are easier to control. Cars are few and far between due to government fuel rationing. In addition, cars are equipped with monitoring devices so that the religious leadership can determine where a vehicle has been and/or monitor all conversations. There are no phones, no televisions and no contact with the outside. There is a death penalty for reading, owning books or teaching others to read. Horses and some people are chipped so that the leadership knows where they are or can track their movements.

Casper Pierce is a government agent from the outside sent into Appalachia to capture Caitlyn. He is assisted by a local bounty hunter and thug, Mason Lee. Pierce and Lee don't get along at all and the situation is exasperated when Pierce intentionally injures Lee to make a point.

Deputy Bill Jasper has always done as told and the leadership told him to begin working as a deputy. He doesn't know why exactly but goes with the flow. Unfortunately Billy gets caught between Caitlyn and some bounty hunters and reluctantly joins her in her quest to reach the "outside." Theo is another runaway, a visually impaired, that is running from the harsh treatment received as part of his sentence to work in the factory.

The idea of genetic modification is hinted at throughout the story, but I felt that the primary focus was on providing the groundwork for the next installment in this series. Broken Angel is a well-crafted dystopian read that openly discusses the problems with religion as a force majeure. The characters are all well developed. It's difficult to discern the good guys from the bad guys for a while but it is important to take each person at face value because circumstances change rapidly and someone that might start off in a bad light becomes heroic. There's a lot going on in this story and the subplots often overlap, but this never causes any confusion. Broken Angel starts a little slow but quickly picked up and kept me engaged until the end. Thankfully I was able to immediately begin reading the next installment in this series, Shadow of Flight. ( )
  BookDivasReads | Nov 21, 2011 |
Broken Angel paints a frighteningly real picture of a fictional but all-too-possible future. An oppressive and dictatorial nation called Appalachia, formed from a broken United States, is a world where the government tolerates no secrets and affords little privacy to have them.

In this tyrannical society, Caitlyn is more special than even she knows, and her uniqueness creates grave dangers for the innocent young woman; Jordan is her adoring father who, despite his secret and shameful past, is now prepared to sacrifice everything including his life to protect his child. On their trail is a cruel and ruthless bounty hunter who’s determined to capture the girl – and take more than just her life.

Alone and seemingly abandoned by the one person she trusts, Caitlyn must accept help from strangers: a near-blind escapee from one of Appalachia’s many forced-labor factories, and a big man with a kind heart and a slow brain. Together, the little group makes its way through the treacherous Appalachian countryside, enroute to the Outside. There, Caitlyn can be freed from the mysterious thing that makes her different. But reaching and crossing that border may cost the girl everything she’s ever held dear.

Sigmund Broewer’s novel is riveting and fast-paced – there’s no time to breathe and no relief from the tension. It delivers mystery, tragedy, uncertainty … and unexpected moments of humor and joy that make all the rest of it bearable. Broken Angel will draw you in and hold you in its spell long after you’ve read the last page.

Amazing detail, gripping storyline, and unbelievable writing. ( )
  DeliaLatham | Mar 27, 2011 |
Review of Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer

“We had agreed – the woman I loved and I – that as soon as you were born we would perform an act of mercy and decency and wrap you in a towel to drown you in a nearby sink of water.” Wow. Talk about impact. Thus Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer begins.
This post apocalyptic novel immediately draws the reader in and never lets up. In a future reminiscent of John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids, the government of ‘Appalachia’ has taken its responsibilities very seriously – and very literally. Similar to ‘Big Brother’ in George Orwell’s 1984, the citizens of Appalachia are always under the watchful eye of the state. Blasphemers are sent to the factories or worse – stoned to death.
“Outside”, people have more freedom, but there they have created their own brand of hell. After discovering the secrets behind human DNA, scientists have taken to mutating human embyos.
This is the world that Caitlyn has been born into. Unknown to her, she has become a target to both sides and must flee for her life before it is brutally taken from her. This book is packed with well developed and intriguing characters, lots of action, and tons of emotional impact. It’s a must read for the Sci-fi lover, but fans of crime fiction, mystery, suspense and thrillers will also enjoy this book. Highly recommended. I can’t wait to read the sequel Flight of Shadows. Brouwer has certainly taken his place among writers of high energy fiction. ( )
  Tracykrauss | Oct 27, 2010 |
It was a pretty good novel, but sometimes difficult to follow and in many spots, unable to hold my attention. Because of this, it took me a long while to read. Not to be harsh, but the best part of the book and really the only part that I found interesting was the last couple of chapters because I believe that these pages were the ones with the most depth written in them. They were also the only pages that were really crystal clear on their meaning and the most enjoyable section. ( )
  Songsparrow | Jun 24, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I have always enjoyed a good against evil escape story. Caitlyn was raised on the fringes of the hills of Appalachia which has been separated from the rest of the US as a nation of its own. The nation is dotted with closed off and controlled communities. Rules and horror stories keep people in line and a combination of technology and simplistic life style keep the people tightly controlled. Because Caitlyn is different, she has been protected by her father and kept at a safe distance from the communities. Because Caitlyn is different, she is not safe in Appalachia.

As the story opens, you know Caitlyn is being hunted, but you aren't exactly sure why. The reason why became apparent to me very quickly, but I think that may be because of the type of novels I have read in the past. The story doesn't center around the why as much as the chase. The reader is introduced to several characters who by circumstances will join Caitlyn on her journey. We are also introduced to some characters who are out to get Caitlyn and anyone who gets in the way.

What I liked was the very story idea. I do wish that the book went a little deeper into the nation of Appalachia and its leader as I found it very interesting. I also really enjoyed the characters that helped Caitlyn. I would love to go into detail, but I don't want to spoil a thing!

The story moved quickly. It was definitely a book I didn't want to put down. I began it before bed and finished it the following afternoon. It obviously left you with some unanswered question which is to be expected as it is the first in a series.

I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah for review. The opinion is entirely my own. ( )
  KellyBlackwell | May 30, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
Sigmund Broewer’s novel is riveting and fast-paced – there’s no time to breathe and no relief from the tension. It delivers mystery, tragedy, uncertainty … and unexpected moments of humor and joy that make all the rest of it bearable. Broken Angel will draw you in and hold you in its spell long after you’ve read the last page.

Amazing detail, gripping storyline, and unbelievable writing.

added by DeliaLatham | editMy Book Bag, Delia Latham (May 29, 2009)
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To Cindy and Olivia and Savannah,
Always, as big and forever as the sky
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We had agreed—the woman I loved and I—that as soon as you were born, we would perform an act of mercy and decency and wrap you in a towel to drown you in a nearby sink of water.
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In a futuristic Christian dystopia, inside a state run by literalistic, controlling fundamentalists, reading is a serious crime; citizens are drugged into submission; and those who break rules are either sent to slave labor factories or stoned to death.… (more)

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