September 30, 2013

Review: Kami Garcia's Unbreakable

The realm of the supernatural has become a popular playground over the last five or so years. Just when you think all of the paranormal stories have been thoroughly explored, you come across an engaging story that makes you appreciate the genre in a new way. Kami Garcia's Unbreakable does that.

Mild spoilers in the review below.
I have to admit I've yet to read her previous novel Beautiful Creatures, so I didn't have any expectations when I picked up the book. Unbreakable focuses on Kennedy Waters as she learns her family history isn't what it appeared to be. Her mother was part of a secret society, the Legion of the Black Dove, people charged with keeping back the demons and now Kennedy has to step into her shoes. She learns the ropes from other descendants of the same group, and she has to absorb the lessons in a hurry because they need to save humanity as we know it.

The fact that Unbreakable has a female protagonist is already a plus for me. Even better? She's well rounded. She's eager to learn, has some guilt issues, and isn't afraid to show vulnerability. You care about her feelings from the beginning, and I developed a strong attachment to her in no time. Since she's new to the world where ghosts are real and demons need hunted, we learn through her questions and training.

If you've watched Supernatural or any ghost hunting series, you'll find a few familiar tricks but only a few. The overarching story is gripping, and the stakes are huge. It's not merely a soul at risk – it's the world. I admire Garcia for taking on a tale of such a big scope and building it piece by piece so that when things go wrong, you're legitimately worried about the end of the days. I put down the book feeling nervous about how we'd all survive. It's delightful to get so wrapped up in fiction.

And as far as the scare factor? I started Unbreakable late at night and probably should have stuck to daylight hours. There were some scenes with a cat which gave me chills, and plenty of creepy ghosts to make my heart race. Disclaimer though: I'm the first to label myself as a wus.

The remaining five members of the group are more than a support staff. Each comes with a unique skill set and specialty and a distinct personality. That doesn't always happen when you have an ensemble cast of this size, and I'm glad I was able to get to know the other members of the Legion – especially twins Jared and Lukas. I could have done without the eventual love triangle but since it's a young adult book, I recognize I'm not exactly the target audience.

It's the first part of a trilogy – the Legion trilogy to be precise - and I wanted the next installment as soon as I turned the last page. That's a good sign.

Overall, I found Unbreakable to be entertaining and a fun, fast-paced romp through the supernatural with extremely likable characters. Garcia did a solid job fleshing out the rules of Kennedy's world and remarkably, she made it feel fresh and also complex. She built up many layers of action, mythology, and emotions. And just when you think you know where the ending is headed, you're surprised.

Unbreakable is available tomorrow, 10/1. Visit your local book store or order a copy on Amazon.

Review copy provided free of charge.


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