The Unbroken has been on my list ever since I heard about it. When Orbit sent me an ARC I may have screamed a little. Okay, a lot. I buddy read this was Kate and we both loved how it delved into colonialism and the intricate character work. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.
Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.
Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: rape, torture
The Unbroken features complicated characters and examinations of rebellion, identity, and colonization. It’s full of a past that needs to be uncovered. Prejudice and discrimination. Touraine is embroiled in a political and colonial situation, a battle of ‘civilized’ insults and a group of soldiers forced to fight. The Unbroken feels like a mix of inevitability and the journey to becoming something no on expects. To realize that when deeply entrenched in colonization, there isn’t a situation that doesn’t involve sacrifice or bloodshed. That, despite our best efforts, we would always end up like this.
It’s a deadly combination when prejudice outweigh logic and they have the power over life and death. How should Touraine feel? How do you choose your own future when you were ripped from your home and molded into a weapon? Do you choose destruction on your own terms? Are we heroes if we steal weapons to save ourselves? The only family Touraine has ever known is stuck in a conflict between their allegiances and their masters. Unable to win either way, in a society that will always look down on them and hated by their own people, the Sands made my heart ache.
Clark portrays these characters in their complex glory. As humans not shiny uncomplicated heroes. Flawed people struggling to fight for their future in a system of losses. Making decisions that feel right, even if they twist our insides. The Unbroken examines the messy, problematic, and cruelties of colonization. The fear that steeps the streets and shadows conversations alongside the ways its permeates into our language and second guesses. I think the main element of the story I did not like was the romance story line.
Fraught with power imbalances, it’s highly contested by all sides. And there’s no way for the future that isn’t overshadowed by the bonds of the past. Even though it’s dual POV, even from the narration style alone, you can tell which chapter is Luca and which is Touraine. Another element I enjoyed was the relationship between Touraine and her family. Find The Unbroken on Goodreads, Amazon (US) (UK), Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.