Monday, August 25, 2008

Broken Angel 01: Intro

Sigmund Brouwer's Broken Angel is set in the relatively near future, at a time when the Appalachian area is a country unto itself run by a quasi-Christian theocracy that uses high-tech surveillance to maintain order while limiting regular citizens to lower tech and illiteracy. The outside world apparently hasn't much Christian influence, so it's developing some nightmares of its own.

Enter Caitlyn and her dad. She has some kind of deformity or mutation; if you haven't figured out what it is within a couple chapters tops, you aren't trying. Anyway, the two are on the run from some really grumpy guys with guns and hounds: here they are, thirsty in Appalachia, only to find Appalachia Cola is only a myth. So they take it out on the nearest single parent with a mutated daughter. Haven't we all done that?

Okay, maybe not.

But we also get to meet Mason Lee, a bounty hunter who wishes Hannibal Lecter were real so he could get his autograph and then give him a noogie. And break a few bones, maybe. It's a male-bonding thing. Mason soon discovers that he can ignore the "or alive" part on Caitlyn's wanted poster, which can only mean Somebody Down There likes him. He just wants Caitlyn to open up to him, and he has a knife that should help.

But the characters aren't all obnoxious. Caitlyn, now bereft of her father figure, who thoughtfully opted to play with the dogs in her stead, soon encounters a little-brother figure. He's an intriguing geek wannabe in a land without geeks. His name is Theo, but after being really important for several chapters, he practically disappears. I can't help thinking his last name is MacGuffin. (Technically he's only the first cousin of a MacGuffin, there to fill in until the actual hero shows up.)

Instead of Theo, we get someone more in Caitlyn's age range for her to bum around with as she seeks--well, who knows what. No, wait--it's the Clan. No, not the guys in the sheets; these are the guys in the caves, which are a lot roomier and don't show the dirt as much. The Clan are the true Christians who actually read the Bible and don't go around forcing their views on others, so everyone else can go to Hell unimpeded.

Aren't principles keen?

They deplore violence, yet they have the good fortune to be ringed about with homicidal loonies (not in the Clan themselves, of course) who kill off any door-to-door salesmen and Jehovah's Witnesses who might otherwise disturb the Clan's tranquility.

Talk about good neighbors. The Clan evidently returns the favor by not pointing out that it isn't nice to kill people, especially in sadistic ways.

So anyway, Caitlyn and her retinue are off to visit the Clan for Reasons Undisclosed. Meanwhile, plot and counterplot, point and counterpoint, counter and countercounter are swirling around, as dead people manage to get a whole lot better, true allegiances are revealed, and in general no one is what they seem except for the less-imaginative ones who are exactly what they seem.

Tune in tomorrow for the strengths of the story. Meanwhile, check out some
other posts on the subject that probably are what they seem:
Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Mark Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Sean Slagle
James Somers
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Laura Williams


sbrouwer said...


loved your post. would be great to see a novel with a first-person narrator with that kind of breezy irreverence.


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Steve, you have such a way with words!

I'm looking forward to your views on the subjects the novel introduces. I can't help but think you have some strong ones.

Yes, it would appear that the key "surprise" wasn't really a surprise to many of us, but I didn't actually mind. All those other counterpoints and misaligned allegiances kept me a little off guard.


Steve said...

Anyone interested in breezy irreverence might want to look at The League of Superheroes coming out in October from The Writer's Café Press. You can read the first chapter here.

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