I’m really unsure (unfortunately) on how to review this book and that makes me unhappy to say the least; I’m going to call this review a ‘constructive critique’ because I think there is so much potential in this book but it just wasn’t executed as it could have been and that’s a real shame, however the author has definite promise and I think definitely has the ability to create an exciting work; however it needs just a little more meticulous and particular. However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Onto the review of ‘The City of the Broken,’ by Ceri Beynon.
Seren Loneheart falls in love for the very first time with a boy who has a dark secret. She soon discovers he is a prince who rules over ‘The City of the Broken’, which has a population of heartbroken and outcast people. He informs her that he wants her to become a citizen of his city, as when he meets her he believes her to be lonely and unhappy and would therefore make the perfect citizen! But much to Seren’s delight there is a sudden attraction that he wants to pursue. The pair embarks on a dark fairytale romance that results in Seren finding happiness for the first time in her life. However, how can she be at her happiest, when she needs to pretend to be broken in which to live in ‘The City of the Broken?’ Can these young lovers survive all this turmoil that threatens both their relationship and Calix’s crown? Will Seren succeed in healing Calix’s heart and ending his determination to remain unhappy for the sake of his duty to his father? So, that’s the intro, sounds brilliant right! The first comment to make is that the premise of the book is brilliant; the idea of a desolate city, ruled by a King who is completely heartbroken due to the death of his wife and wants to keep the population of his land in the same disheartened state is very interesting. Is it a very emotional and morose scenario and this means that it makes the reader think and it transports us to a new city, and idea, which is lovely! Additionally the love story between the two is very naïve and young, which adds to the fantasy feel. The book dips and bobs keeping the reader intrigued as to whether the two can keep their romance going, or whether it is altogether a farce. Add in a manipulating King, and some wicked extra characters and you have the basis for an interesting book! It reads well, and is simple to understand. The plot line has pace, which means that you do feel compelled to read on however, for me this book didn’t quite hit the mark for me, which was a real shame!
So onto the constructive critique; I know that author must know that in the copy that I read, the punctuation is poor. Many words such as ‘can’t’ are missing the apostrophe and throughout, the spaces and the punctuation is in the wrong place such as; ‘I was in the Broken City .I was scared.’ It is really off-putting as a reader as I found myself noting the mistakes! All it needs is another few meticulous edits to get that up to scratch. Secondly, I think that the book needs to be describing the story, rather than telling as it means that the book lacks a sense of depth. Take for example the main character, she appears superficial and shallow and this is notably due to the lack of information. We at no point learn about who she really is, how old she is, what she looks like, her personality; the descriptive writing is so sparse that it means that we cannot imagine this character at all and this pulls down the enjoyment of the book as it means you can’t empathise with the character as you know very little about her. The characters need to each have their own personality, to pull the reader in and make the book a whole; the author needed to take a bit more time to really explore the characters. I think the message here is to have fun with it, find their characteristics and build then up extensively to get the reader involved! Additionally Seren does not seem to have any links to a family of her own and that confused me; a young girl spending all night in the City of the Broken and noticeably falling behind on school work, but at no time was this discussed and this forced me as the reader to think, how believable is this? As a reader you should be having no-doubts, as you are drawn into a new world of mystery, but it felt like I was banging on the door, unable to get in due to my inability to immerse myself in the plot or the characters! A further point is that it is understandable that the Prince is mysterious and unexplained at the beginning however, it would be brilliant to have a little more interaction between the two as it seemed a little odd that they suddenly are so attracted and infatuated with each other; however we as the reader are forced to imagine that they are just pulled to one another through fate. At one point the characters suddenly kiss, but there is no build up. Using the sense of infatuation but not giving it the foundations to take the readers breath away is a real missed opportunity. A final constructive critique is too enjoy description; the city is a desolate place with people wandering like lost souls however the author doesn’t appear to enjoy it and yet there is so much potential to really push the description. If I were writing about this I would go to town with the description to really pull the reader in and to make them feel the coldness of the people, the harshness of the King, the vulnerability of the Prince and the determination of Seren. It is so frustrating because I know what is screaming to be said and yet it doesn’t hit the mark. The plot is solid; but it is in the execution that fails for me.
I know that this sounds like a negative review, but as I always say I am always honest and that sometimes means you need to be harsh to be kind; in the end! The one thing I want to say is that this book has so much potential but it hasn’t been executed in the best possible way. I think that this author has so much to give and obviously is a budding writer and understands the way in which to write; but remember, give detail, think of description, and be dynamic. Punctuation, grammar and spelling much be perfect, description should be powerful and determined, and finally give the readers something to get there teeth into, be forceful in your writing and get the reader involved. This book is on the way; but for me, just not there yet.