Breakdown: A Love Story
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119 of 123 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2011
This book absolutely floored me. I'm a big fan of dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction, and when I discover something like this, something so deep and textured and full of life that it actually brings tears to my eyes, I can't help but tell others about it. Buy it if you like Margaret Atwood's work or if you enjoyed One Second After by William R. Forstchen. It's that good.
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119 of 124 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2012
I am an avid reader of apocalyptic novels. I've been reading them since Alas Babylon. Breakdown is somewhat unusual. Descriptions of the breakdown post super flu occur in flashbacks. The protagonist loses his wife and infant daughter in New York during the first weeks of the outbreak. He spends the next six years working his way back to England where he hopes to find his mother, two brothers and a friendship that ended badly. The details of his travels are sketchy. The book centers around healing the spirit and resolving the past so there is a future. The pacing is introspective. If you are looking for a zombie stomping blood fest then this book is not for you. If you are interested in human resilience then you will find Breakdown a good read within the genre. I applaud the author for carefully proofing her work. It was a pleasure to read a recent work in the genre without slogging through misspelling, poor grammar and words that were used incorrectly. I rarely give four stars and reserve the fifth star for a masterpiece. This is a solid effort.
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162 of 172 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2011
My aunt had been encouraging me to read Breakdown but I didn't bother to seek it out. While I trust her taste, I have enough on my TBR pile from the major publishing houses so I generally ignore Amazon Digital titles. Finally, she bought it for me and sent it to my Kindle. I read Breakdown in one sitting, staying up much too late in the process. There are minor things I'd change about it but it doesn't have the unedited feel I associate with self published work. In fact, at times it reminded me of LaVyrle Spencer's work. Set after a worldwide flu pandemic has radically changed the world, Breakdown picks up several years later. Chris has gone in search of his brothers, painfully making his way through an unrecognizable landscape until he finds comfort in a stranger's home. The atmosphere is close to a sweet americana romance, but the tone is perfectly modern and the setting British. (While this isn't a YA title, it is completely suitable for a YA reader and might make a nice bridge between standard YA fare and more general fiction.) I'll certainly look at Hanna's next work, especially if it's a sequel in the same world.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2011
This book was gripping all the way through. It's set in a post-apocalyptic world that is beautifully evoked, showing how people have rebuilt their lives in a more circumscribed way that centers on family and other essentials. Breakdown is a quiet, hopeful story (though very sad in parts), focused on characters who are real and likeable. I was entirely drawn into the world of this novel.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2011
This is a lovely, emotional story of loss and redemption, not what you expect out of a post-apocalyptic scenario, full of well-developed characters whose journeys end in self-discovery, recovery from loss, and love.

You don't expect a PA novel to be a love story, but this one is. Oh, you've got your global pandemic that pretty much wipes out the world, you've got your breakdown of societies, you've got your back-to-basics-after-the-loss-of-technology, you've got your loss of families/loves, gangs, food shortages and government inefficiencies, just like in most PA stories. But what most of them DON'T have is FEELING or HEART.

The story has other sub-plots, but the main focus is on Chris Price, a former rock star from England, who lives in NY when the pandemic hits, suffers great familial loss, and takes six years to make his way back to the other side of the pond to find out what happened to his family. They were hard years, filled with violence, more loss, starvation, incarceration, and hard work. He is a changed man when he makes it back to his country....not in a good way.

It takes a chance meeting, a recommendation from an acquaintance, and the assistance of a former psychologist to bring Chris back to life from his epic journey of loss.

I genuinely enjoyed this full and complete novel, and more so appreciate the fact that, for a self published novel, the editing is near perfect.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Chris is a man who has lost everything in his life, as the world around him spins out of control. A worldwide pandemic has killed many and set civilization back several centuries as all we take for granted goes away seemingly overnight. After his wife and young daughter die from the plague, Chris sets out on a slow, arduous journey to return home to England, across the ocean from where he lived in New York. The story is not necessarily of that journey, but of the journey that takes place after he returns home to the remnants of his family-a brother who had no idea if he was alive or dead, an old mate who his relationship with was damaged long before the plague came about, and other new faces, including new people who attempt to help Chris heal. He has seen what the world has turned into during his travels-barbaric and wretched, and there are experiences he had that have shattered him emotionally. It will take a great deal of kindness and patience to allow Chris to come to grips with who he is and what he has become, and a dedicated and persistent person willing to take that journey with him.

This is a post apocalyptic novel, true enough, but not the type that I would typically pick up. I did so at the recommendation of a friend, and while this is different than what I am used to, I can't say that I have any regrets reading it. The author is a solid storyteller, developing her characters in slow bits and pieces with reveals that are satisfying and plausible. The broken down world, as well as the broken down man that inhabits it, provide ample opportunity for her to give us just cause for Chris's brooding state. He is troubled, but I didn't get the urge to tell him to get over it-his losses, and sense of regret for what he believes he didn't do are real, tangible, and identifiable. Chris is no different than any of us would be, or at least any of us would try to be, if we wanted to maintain some sense of humanity despite living in a inhuman, monstrous world.

I liked the setting where the things we take for granted-speaking to someone over the phone, being able to drive to see someone 70 miles away from where we live in about an hour or two becomes impossible, and everyone is closed off from those more than a mile or two away from them. Life is rough, and difficult, but in many ways much simpler for the folks that live in it. They do their chores, the grow food, they milk the cows, and on occasion they remember how easy they had it, and hope that the technology will return, and that the world will come together again. But they fear the world around them, still worried that the plague may revisit them, and trust very few outside of their own circle of close family and friends.

While I guess this book could be defined as a post apocalyptic romance novel, I would venture to say that it is more of a character study, with the relationship coming about naturally, slowly evolving as Chris learns more about himself and accepts who he is and what he has been forced to do ever since the world turned brutal and went dark in the early days of the plague, while he opens up and discovers things about those around him-how they too have suffered, and that he is not alone, no matter how much it feels that way.

For anyone who has looked at any of my reviews, they will know this is perhaps not my normal type of book that I review, but I have to say that this is a story definitely worth checking out for anyone who likes PA fiction with strongly drawn, compelling characters.
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42 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2012
You know those comic books that little boys write when they're 12 years old with cliched uninspired stories? The plot sounds like it's straight out of that. A former rockstar comes home to Europe after losing his wife and child and finds his brother where he talks about staying in a town where everyone liked him and all the women wanted him and his friend's ex-girlfriend became attracted to his dark and broody mysterious demeanor because he had a hard ambiguous life on THE STREETS where he learned to kill a man with a glance, and on and on with the cliched love story. This is that story that an actual adult has written and for some reason other adults found good.

I usually like science fiction and postapocalyptic stories because it shows characters in unique situations react in unique ways. Honestly, I feel like this story could have been written during World War II with a few words changed and nobody could have told the difference.

The characters were two dimensional and forgettable, outside Chris and Pauline. Pretty much every character was "Xs brother who did Y" "Zs sister who dated L" "M who used to do R" and not really much development evolved beyond that. It was really easy to forget who was who because they all basically had the same personality of being "Nice, but tired people who really like Chris"

There was almost no conflict outside of maybe the ending, which was anticlimactic. Character conflicts were resolved in two paragraphs or less. The majority of the story focused on Chris's internal conflict which the writing does a piss poor job of expressing and resolving.

The most disappointing thing for me is that I usually hold science fiction and especially science fiction stories told by women to be fairly progressive in terms of female characters. This was the opposite of what I expected. All the women in Chris's past ended up being raped, murdered or died of the "plague", and the women during the course of the stories are written as desperate lonely women who wanted a date, or not given any history at all besides "X's wife, Y's mother, Z's sister, B's girlfriend". Basically all the female characters were only known in the story for their relationship to the male characters, and that was incredibly disappointing.

If you want a love story, read Nicholas Sparks. If you want post apocalyptic stories, read The Handmaid's Tale or The Road or World War Z. Just don't waste your time on this poorly written juvenile fantasy.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Utterly disappointing if, like me, you were expecting a gritty adventure novel based on the cool-sounding plot (and five-star reviews). Sure, not everyone can produce work to the standard of Stephen King's The Stand, but I gave up reading Breakdown in despair after just three chapters. Banal, one-dimensional characters spewing hackneyed dialogue straight out of an afternoon TV soap, is not my bowl of post-apocalyptic fare.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2011
You would never guess that this is a self published novel. It is outstanding in every way with none of the awkwardness usually found in such works. It is polished and professional.
The storyline is believable, a massive pandemic has struck. Millions have died and electronic systems have gone down. The timeframe is six years after the disaster began. The main character is returning to his family in rural England from the US where he was living. There are no superhuman feats against super enemies. It is a very believable story of an ordinary man`s long journey though horrors and bittersweet events. Characters are all believable and appropriately developed.
The only, very small flaw, was that the use of a lot of British colloquialisms that an American reader may find difficult. I`ve read quite a few books written in British English and not had so much trouble. I did manage to figure it out from context. I am sure British readers find American slang just as difficult, so do not think this is a big flaw. Just offering a bit of forewarning.
This novel is such a worthwhile read. I will definitely look for more from this author.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2011
I started expanding my subject matter after reading "One Second After" (by William Forstchen), recommended by my daughter. I don't enjoy many post-tragic event style books but Breakdown caught my interest from the reviews. It is indeed a book that has something for everyone. It shows the results from the aftermath of a pandemic that includes; drama, tragedy, determination, mans resilience, and yes even a bit of a love story. The author intertwines the story so that you are always waiting to see what comes next. No predictability as to where the story will take you. Although several main characters are are at the forefront all (characters) grab your attention and you immediately want to know more about them. They are everyday people caught up in a situation that tests their fortitude and faith. This is Katherine Amt Hanna's first novel and I look forward to further contributions from this writer.
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