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Broken Circle Paperback – October 3, 2017
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Adam has been plagued by nightmares since his mother died, but it's not until a psychotic episode overtakes him at school that his dad ships him off to a private academy for help. Here, Adam learns his True Destiny—he is a soul guide, one of the few beings trained to lead a soul through death, into Limbo, and out to the Other Side. A child of two warring guide clans, Adam has been raised with no training on how to use the giant powers roiling inside him; and although warned to trust no one, he doesn't know enough to avoid La Luz (a shadowy organization seeking to overthrow death itself—and, by extension, the soul guides, too) in time to prevent a schoolmate's death. He is ultimately on his own when it comes to dealing with his (quite real) inner demons. Although the authors' world-building is thin and the last chapter is more a pause for breath than a conclusion, readers will forgive these aspects in favor of Adam's wry, funny, and ultimately sweet voice. Through the horrors he encounters, he realizes that the family he longs for is more than just blood ties. Savvy readers will be disappointed with the sketchy details of the soul guide's world. The blood, gore, and period explicit language render this better for older readers. Fans of Holly Black and Cassandra Clare will enjoy this series starter. VERDICT Buy where YA urban fantasy circulates briskly.—Elizabeth Friend, Wester Middle School, TX
"Adam can't even grow a man beard yet, but he can do something his friends can't do--go to Limbo and back. Prepare to root for him as he makes new friends, discovers who he is, and saves a few souls in the process. This is a fast-paced, page-turning story!"
--Skila Brown, author of Caminar
"With a perfect balance of real-world and mythical, Adam's story explores life and death, and everything in between. Anyone looking for a thoughtful take on life's big questions will find it here, paired with fresh details, a fast-moving story, and bold world building."
--Amy Rose Capetta, author of Entangled
Top customer reviews
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The story is this - Dad is an X. Son, Adam, is an X also, but has been hidden, and has been kept in the dark about his X-ness. Mom was an X, but a mysterious sort of X, and anyway she disappeared under odd circumstances. Now, the other X's have found out about son and so son is sent away to X-school to find out what kind of X he is. Everyone else at school is an X and knows all about X-ing, but Son is completely in the dark. Sounds familiar, right? Now, "X" could be ninja, or spy, or wizard, or used car salesman. As it turns out, "X" is "soul guide", and that has made all the difference. Soul guides help souls, after death, navigate Limbo and move on to the other side.
I'm being sort of a wise guy because this book is grown-up and well written and can take a joke. Our hero Adam is a bit angsty at first, but he's made of solid stuff and it's a pleasure to follow him as he gets up to speed. He is complemented at school by another lost soul, a girl who turns out to be a tough and resourceful partner. The whole soul guide practice is well thought out, very interesting, and complex, and the book never slows down even as we learn more and more about the process. We actually think about, and discuss, life and death and the meaning of it all in an engaging and age appropriate fashion. There are lots of elegant touches and details, (Adam has a precog skill about when someone will die; he can see people's soul/shadows, which have unique and characteristic forms; he makes some really dumb teenager decisions), and the whole world is developed in a much more convincing fashion than I would have thought possible. We travel in and out of Limbo as the plot heats up, but, like Adam, the reader becomes more comfortable with these shifts as the book progresses.
The school environment is a hard sell because it is the most familiar of the familiar aspects of the book, but our authors mix up the teachers and the other students and day-to-day school life to bring freshness to the device. There are also lots of sub-plots, (what happened to Mom, who's out to eliminate son, why did he need to be hidden), that spice up the action and keep the plot whirling along. Some one-off set scenes, (a Day of the Dead party), are very satisfying and even touching. The authors even try the ambitious gambit of slipping in flashbacks of son's Mom and Dad eloping and defying the soul guide conventions, and that episodic flashback story is what fills in details and background as the book progresses.
The book does require some degree of patience, especially at the outset. This is one of those I'd-tell-you-more-but-not-right-now stories that keeps the hero and the reader hanging needlessly just to jack up the suspense. Luckily, every time you start to get fed up with that tease you are given just enough useful information to soldier on. And you will want to keep going. Adam develops nicely as a character and his quest is the reader's quest. Supporting characters show up in droves and add variety, humor, mystery, and some deadpan funny relief, as necessary. Toward the end this really does become a compulsive page turner.
By the final page the story arc sort of wraps up, in that there is no perilous cliffhanger, but there remain many, many unanswered questions and the sense that several more sequels could easily be sustained by this premise and these characters. A number of sub-plots are suggested and not at all resolved by the end. Indeed, probably the most sincere form of praise I can offer would be to note that I look forward to the sequels. This really is a superior effort in the genre, and was a nice find.
(Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
This title was sent to me by Akashic Books in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.
BROKEN CIRCLE is a very intriguing and interesting book. It is fantasy reading and the press kit says the title is a young adult novel. I would agree that the young adult classification is very appropriate. The main character is 15 and many of the other prominent characters are in their teens as well. The plot centers on essential (what I consider essential) plot lines in young adult fiction - coming of age and friendship.
“Adam wants nothing more than to be a normal teen. But: his mother died when he was only four. His father is an assassin, a voodoo god, the reincarnation of Buddha - or something even stranger. And his grandfather insists that people are out to kill the entire family. But maybe Grandpa’s not all that nuts. You see, Adam is set to collide with a world that hovers between life and death, where entities charged with shepherding souls of the dead compete to control lucrative territories known as Limbo. Some nightmares are real.” (book cover)
I liked the book cover with the ‘Grim Reaper’ standing in the middle of a circle - his scythe sticks out of an opening at the top of the circle. This symbol is an integral part of the story.
I was slow getting into the book. Adam’s nightmares and lack of sleep and his blackouts at school were not clear to me. I think the story first started taking shape when he was sent off to a ‘boarding school’ by his father. This school was to prepare him and teach him about the family business.
I liked the references to Maine. I live in Maine and am always happy to see its locations featured in books.
There are 29 chapters in the book and several ‘half’ chapters. For example, there is a chapter 1 and then a chapter 1.5. The half chapters tell a parallel story/a prequel story of a Reaper Family from the Eternal City of Rome. Very Shakespearian-like.
The story was a thoughtful one in that many questions were asked about death. The story also contained several lines which I quite liked. “Is it possible to miss someone you don’t really remember?” (p.15) “an inappropriate dream abduction” “When I just know people are going to die, is it because I am somehow making them die?” (p.99)
The writing was good - somewhat suspenseful; good characters; intriguing plot; thoughtful.
I do recommend this book.
Most recent customer reviews
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