Sunday, July 6, 2008

Broken Angel – Sigmund Brouwer

© 2008 WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs

Sigmund Brouwer has made a career out of getting young people to read, and also to convince children that they, too, can write a good story. He has written everything from children’s books filled with life lessons to teen series novels to western and mystery stories. He’s written historical stories with sword fights and series mysteries featuring amateur detective Nick Barrett.

In Broken Angel Brouwer mixes all his genre talents and presents a historical novel that’s set in the future. It is the story of the battle between technology and religion—religion gone bad. Caitlyn is pushed away from her father who must send her out in order to save her as well as protect the work of the Clan who help people escape the oppression of the secessionist country of Appalachia. The new country is run by a Big Brother-esque religious leader who has named himself Bar Elohim. Appalachia has become the place where people live by a rigid set of rules down to the 3000 person limit to townships.

Caitlyn’s father, Jordan, allows himself to be caught, and expects to die, to give her opportunity to escape with the help of his friends in the Clan. The story develops showing the use of limited and regulated technology through which Appalachians are controlled by Bar Elohim. Bounty hunters are some of the few who are allowed to carry arms in the countryside as they seek renegades like Caitlyn and her friend and helper Theo (who has escaped from one of the factories that produce the microchips exported to Outside).

Broken Angel reads swiftly and well. The suspense and mystery mixed with a sci-fi/western twist makes for an interesting touch. Brouwer has some difficulty hiding Caitlyn’s “secret” which he fully reveals in the end. But even with the broadcasting of the secret (telling without really telling) the reader still wants to read how the secret is played out for Caitlyn and for those around her. For added effect Brouwer joins forces with his singer/songwriter wife Cindy Morgan in “Beautiful Bird” to tell the final bit of Caitlyn’s story.

Brouwer has another winner here. I give it four out of five reading glasses.

Benjamin Potter, July 6, 2008

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