Picture a world that is plagued by a deadly virus. New York and other major cities have been shut off with the intention of setting up a quarantine, and in order to travel people need both to have their health evaluated and their reason for leaving their city approved. Each break for gasoline is a chance that you will encounter someone who has been infected and become sick yourself. There is a constant, looming fear that each pit stop to use the restroom or to gather more supplies will be your last. This is the environment that Vivian, the narrator of Broken World lives in. Vivian was a stripper before this whole mess started, but now her only occupation is trying to get to California where she can be reunited with the daughter she hasn’t seen in years. She is caught off guard when her car halts on the side of the highway, and reluctantly decides to join with two unlikely companions. Her newfound accomplices, Axl and Angus, two rednecks with a myriad of skills that have become practical in the new reality they live in. The newly formed trio progress in their journey towards the west coast and come across other survivors.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel that I can describe too much of the character base without revealing some of the plot line, but I will say that I adored nearly every character in the novel. There are people of all walks of life featured, bound together by the tragedy that is their existence in this desolate remnant of what society used to be. A construction worker, a millionaire, a doctor, and more all come together, just to name a few of the represented occupations. The severity of the situation brings our cast of characters together in a way that they never could have in the ‘normal’ world they used to live in before the virus outbreak. There is a fair amount of culture clash between the different people, as you might expect, but they are all still committed to survival.
One thing that I particularly enjoy about the novel is that it takes place at the head of the outbreak, before anyone really knows what is going on. Despite the chaos of the virus there is a sort of peace in the beginning of the book. Yes, Vivian lives ia strange dystopian wasteland, but initially there isn’t a reason for her to be afraid when she leaves her car other than out of fear of being mugged. It is only as the story unfolds that we begin to see its supernatural edge. Before the undead decide to rear their ugly heads there is a sense of normalcy. Yes, society has more or less crumbled, but you can still stop at a lousy diner off the interstate and buy a mug of coffee and a cheeseburger. I enjoyed the way the reader is eased into the full reality of the universe Mary has created.
Mary’s writing style is very conversational, which I appreciate in a first person narrative. It is a very easy read, which is fortunate because the book is a page turner. Vivian has a fiery personality and frequently interjects sass to the reader during conversations and situations. With Vivian’s sometimes dry, sometimes self degrading sense of humor is combined with the amount of detail that Mary writes into the novel, it almost feels like you are present or are being told the story by a close friend. Each of the characters in the novel are vibrant and full of life. I am not sure if it is due to the style of writing used or the fact that we see the world through Vivian’s eyes. Axl and Angus feel almost real, as if they have a spirit of their own. I greatly enjoy when characters seem to exude the same energy and life that a real person might.
My only objection to the book is that the ending clearly necessitates a sequel. The good news, of course, is that the sequel Shattered World is set for release in October 2014, so we won’t need to wait an agonizing year or several years to find out what happens to our daring, unlikely heroes!
I would definitely recommend this book. There is action, there are hints of romance, there are dystopian themes, and there are zombies! Honestly, I couldn’t ask for more in a book. Kate Mary has successfully added some flare to a genre that we have seen a lot of in recent years. It is difficult to be original in the writing business, especially in a popular genre, but Mary has hit the mark with Broken World.
Broken World hits shelves and online retailers July 4, 2014. You can find out more about this book and her other writing projects on Kate Mary’s website, Goodreads, and find out more from the author herself on Twitter.