Reviews tagging Ableism

The Unbroken, by C.L. Clark

12 reviews

melaniereadsbooks's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.25

This is such a great epic fantasy! I really loved the world building and the main characters! They are so enjoyable to read. There is a lot of intense stuff in this book but it was so good. I really think the world building is stellar in this one and can't wait to see what else comes of this world and series!

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madamepincers's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark emotional funny reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.75

Incredible world building and magic system and I can't wait to read more. Only drawback for me was characters who consistently make Very Bad Choices and change their minds/seem to adhere to different moral codes at different times, but given the context, I think their confusion and issues with determining their own priorities was believable. But it happens to be a major pet peeve of mine so 👀

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firefly's review

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adventurous dark tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5


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aardwyrm's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

Franticly paced and constantly challenging, this is a painful story with no good answers backed by solid worldbuilding and clever, flawed characters. The fantasy elements usually have a pretty light hand, but the tone is successfully mystical and otherworldly. The only flaw is that the relentless failures one of the protagonists experiences are painfully predictable. She tries the same thing (court a bunch of loyalties badly, betray a confidence of one to the other, get in trouble) over and over, and it gets a bit wearying. 

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booksthatburn's review against another edition

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challenging dark sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

THE UNBROKEN is a tale of colonialization, uprising, and a stolen child returning to her homeland as a conscripted soldier ordered to bring it to heel. Touraine is one of the Sands, the term for Qazāli people stolen as children and raised to be soldiers by the Balladaire. This puts her in the position of being used to enforce restrictions on the people she came from. Events early in the book remove her from the Sands, the people she's lived with, fought alongside, and bled with all her life to instead be in service to princess Luca. The rest of the book explores Touraine's confused attempts to figure out what she wants and what she's willing to die for, as well as Luca's desperate attempts to hold on to power through the slim thread of her uncle's distant regard and her subordinates' loyalty. One of the strengths of THE UNBROKEN is it highlights the way that someone who is marginalized in their own group but has power and privilege over another group often uses that relative power to gain a sense of control by oppressing someone else. Luca's physical disability and precarious political position lead her to make harsher choices in order to not appear weak, something that would probably be less on her mind if she weren't constantly worried about people mistaking her physical impairment for lack of will. 

The tension between Luca and Touraine is very well handled, as throughout the story their dynamic as a pair constantly shifts, but they're never quite on the same page about the nature of their relationship. It showed over and over how no matter how attracted they might be to each other, the gulf of power between Luca's position and Touraine's means that it's impossible to trust any "Yes" from Touraine when Luca can have her tortured or killed for a "No". This affects everything from their mutual attraction to the treatment of the Sands to the handling of the rebels. 

I love the portrayal of the Qazāli rebels, I can't discuss much there without spoilers but they were dynamic as a group and as individuals, each with their own reactions to Touraine and Luca's various intrusions on their lives, as well as the reality of life under Balladaire's oppressive colonial rule. 

I'm looking forward to the sequel, I'm a little worried that it'll only get worse for the characters from here but I want to know what happens next.

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aquamarine18's review against another edition

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adventurous dark tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

The Unbroken is a fantasy novel with a setting inspired by French colonial occupation in Northern Africa with two POV characters: Touraine, who was stolen as a child and taken to Balladaire where she is raised to fight for the colonial power occupying her homeland, and Luca, a princess of Balladaire given power in occupied Qazāl and desperate to prove her competence so she can take the Balladairan throne.  The plot follows both characters' (and other characters') political maneuvering and shifting loyalties in the context of a rapidly growing rebellion.  Overall, I really liked this novel + will definitely read the next book in the series.  I thought many of the characters were very well developed + particularly appreciated Touraine's perspective; I hope that some of the more peripheral characters get more focus in the sequel.  I also thought that the book was well written - the action scenes especially - and that the political intrigue was compelling.  I appreciated that sexual diversity is the norm in the world of this book -- many characters are lgbtq+ but this itself is not a plot point -- and that women being in positions of power is also the norm here.  I will note that while both Touraine and Luca (and a number of other characters) are queer and a number of reviews describe the book as sapphic, it ought not be construed a romance; there is an extreme power difference here (Luca has the power to deem Touraine's life forfeit given that Touraine is her empire's property) which negates consent.  While the characters are both individually complex and well-developed, their relationship did not feel that way to me; I could not wrap my head around how
Spoilerboth their decision-making processes were so deeply impacted by their personal relationship, which consisted of some moments of tension and of Luca sexualizing Touraine,
and ultimately wish that the suggestion of chemistry between them had just been left out entirely.  

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cerilouisereads's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0


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sunflower_emily98's review against another edition

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challenging dark slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0


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ristaccia's review

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adventurous challenging dark hopeful inspiring tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0


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deedireads's review

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adventurous emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.25

All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/.

TL;DR REVIEW:

The Unbroken manages to flip tropes on their heads and make big statements while giving fantasy lovers all the things they love: an underdog, a mystery, magic, and a world worth fighting for.

For you if: You’re looking for sapphic, BIPOC epic fantasy.

FULL REVIEW:

Here are the things you need to know to get excited for The Unbroken: It’s a sapphic epic fantasy novel set in a place based on Northern Africa about the brutality of colonialism. With disability rep. You in yet??

There are two main characters: Touraine, who is a conscript (read: slave) in the empire’s army, and Luca, the empire’s princess whose throne is threatened by her uncle. Touraine’s company and the princess arrive in Qazāl, the empire’s colony where Touraine was born before she was taken by the empire, to try to settle the local rebellion. Soon, Touraine finds herself in Luca’s employ as a negotiator, caught between two worlds (one she doesn’t know, and one who will never accept her), trying to find a way to protect her friends who are sure to be caught in any crossfire.

Let me tell you, this plot is a roller coaster. Soooo much happens. I actually did think that the book felt a little too long, but at the same time, I’m not sure what I would have cut. It’s filled with big, full characters faced with no good choices doing the best they can to achieve their own goals. It was full of action and twists and shocking moments and had a big, exciting ending.

The depiction of colonialism here is one place where it really shines — because it shows clearly that ultimately, there are no winners, just bloodshed. No good choices, only bloody ones. The impossible dichotomy between greater good and personal safety; the prospect of dying for a cause versus preserving a life that will be, but never quite how you want.

I also always love the power of fantasy to create worlds in which society’s view of gender and sexuality need not be bound by the norms and biases we face in real life. And this book does it very, very well.

A winner, for sure. I can’t wait to read the next one.

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