Reviews tagging Rape

The Unbroken, by C.L. Clark

29 reviews

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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bookishbutch's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional hopeful mysterious tense medium-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

5.0

You know that one Lady Gaga GIF  where it's her going "amazing incredible never the same etc."? That's me at this book. Man oh man was this a brilliant debut that literally left me breathless. I'm not even sure how to describe this book besides absolutely stunning. If you love political fantasies that tackle colonialism, imperialism, racisms, found family, a unique magic system, lovable, complex characters and a very messy wlw relationship then I highly, highly recommend this book.

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morevna's review

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adventurous challenging dark tense medium-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

5.0


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bananly's review

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challenging dark 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? It's complicated

5.0

Do not come into this book expecting everything general media has given you- brushed off military shenanigans, a desire to tell a story but weak convictions to go through with hard choices the characters make. There is very little cushion for any of these characters to fall onto when they stumble in this book and it sometimes makes it hard to watch. Sometimes I had to put it down for a bit. Sometimes I was going "would I even be able to make it through all this." But war stories shouldn't always be fun and romantic power fantasies. We need a lot less of those in this world. What we do need is books like these, which make us confront the reason most people agreed to stop having wars- it's messy on all sides. Something American's have forgotten due to desensitization. As the smallest end note I want to mention there's no homophobia in this book- everyone is cool with the characters who use they pronouns, who kiss the same gender, all of it. Which is good because I don't think a homophobia thread could fit into the story if it tried.

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fruitea's review against another edition

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dark emotional tense slow-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

5.0

i don't really know how to describe this book. it was so different to the other kinds of books i read (in a good way!!) and really made me reflect on a lot of things. particularly touraine - she's such a complex character and you really get to see her inner conflict with herself. to be honest, i feel like i'd spoil it too much if i explained further. this book will make you think a lot about things society has kind of swept under the rug.

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azrah786's review

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3.5

 [This review can also be found on my BLOG]

**I was gifted a copy by Orbit Books UK in exchange for an honest review**

CW: depictions of colonial violence, gore, past attempted rape, threats of rape, threats of torture, blood, death

The Unbroken is a North African inspired political and military fantasy following a conscripted soldier of a colonist empire returning to her homeland in order to aid in quelling a rebellion, and an imperial princess determined to establish peace in said region in order to reclaim her throne. It's a story about power and about freedom that unapologetically addresses the brutal effects of war and colonialism to people, place and culture.

“It’s in our nature to doubt. The key to faith is standing by someone anyway.”


Some of the initial concepts of the story gave me vibes of The Ember Quartet which had me invested immediately, though it is a unique story from the get go.

The story unfolds with the Balladairan Colonial Brigade arriving on the docks of the capital of Qazal and we instantly get a sense for the animosity and prejudices between the communities present; the conflicting feelings and loyalties of the ‘Sands’ – those soldiers who were stolen as children and indoctrinated to support the empire– and the discrimination these soldiers face from all sides.

“Touraine was starting to think it was impossible to come from one land and learn to live in another and feel whole. That you would always stand on shaky, hole-ridden ground, half of your identity dug out of you and tossed away.”


The world-building and setting take parallels from real world history but have an added whisper of magic, and the immersive storytelling allows us to discover this elaborate fantasy world hand in hand with the characters.

Pacing-wise, this book was definitely slower than I initially expected – more politically focused than action heavy. Though Clark’s writing has a beautiful and at times poetic quality to it without being overly flowery, which I really loved. There were so many spectacular quotes in this book!

The primary characters themselves are wonderfully complex and nuanced. I particularly loved following Touraine's story arc and her coming to terms with her identity and where her loyalties lie - with those in the only life she has known or with those from the home she has forgotten. You know the character is well written when your heart hurts for them and gets frustrated by them and their actions in equal measures.

“The thought still made her shudder with – what? Revulsion wasn’t right, and neither was fear. It was the sense that she had been walking a broad path along a cliff only to find it was a bayonet’s edge. She was just waiting to be pushed.”


What I was left uncertain about though was the relationship between the two protagonists. There was definitely an interesting connection between them but I wasn’t convinced it worked well enough to be a romantic one.

For starters there was an unbalance of power between the two of them that didn’t sit well with me and then there were also a few time skips in the narrative when their relationship was developing which made it seem as though the hints of a romance ensuing were coming about too fast. Also I feel like the more familial relationships in the book were a lot stronger and more fleshed out particularly Touraine’s relationship with the other ‘Sands’ and Luca’s with Gillet. I feel like even the relationship between Touraine and The Jackal had more going for it!

The key fantasy elements are also not explored as much in this first book as I had hoped, particularly since a scene towards the beginning had me super eager to know more about the magic. This wasn’t really a major flaw since the political intrigue throughout was compelling in itself, but definitely something I am highly anticipating to discover more about it in the sequel.
Final Rating – 3.5/5 Stars 

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mandkips's review

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

3.25


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thoughtsstained's review

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adventurous challenging emotional funny hopeful 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? It's complicated

5.0

Likes 
  • Touraine and the rest of the characters. For me, a book's characters make or break it. This cast within The Unbroken was so good that they didn't break the book. They broke me, instead. Touraine inspires me and frustrates me and baffles me and amazes me. Luca infuriates me and makes me want to shake her shoulders until she listens. And then you have a cast of secondary characters who I am attached to, broken by, opinionated about and have VERY intense feelings. Also, character arcs? Clark invented them, because these are MASTERFUL.
  • A complex plot that doesn't shy away. If you've heard anything about this book, you've probably heard that it is a story that faces the consequences of colonialism head on and doesn't stop to make sure the readers are comfortable reading, instead digging down deep and showing you the truth in all of it's complexities. Yet, at the same time, it's so layered and becomes more and more complex the further along the book goes and just...wow. Wow.
  • So hard to put down. Like, friends, it's been so long since I snuck in reading time wherever I could find it. From staying up too late and becoming a zombie the next day to sneaking in just one more chapter in-between meetings at work; to today, damned and determined to find out how this book ends, only to have my partner walk into the bathroom and ask if I'd noticed that the water had almost drained out of our bathtub while I read (I had and I was shivering, but I couldn't just get up; I only had 30 pages left!).
  • QUEERNORM WORLD. I loved this so, so much. Also, seeing bi characters on the page just warmed my heart in ways I haven't really experienced yet. 

Dislikes 
That it ended? That I don't know what the letter contains? That I don't have arms like Touraine in real life!? 

Rating 
This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and it did not disappoint. In fact, it's my second five gem read of the year. Don't sleep on this, friends. It's so good

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thesincoucher's review

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 April 2021, 322pp: I was really enjoying this and then I wasn't. I feel this is my pandemic brain and with less than 150pp to go, I feel like if this was a normal year I could completely finish it. It does feel like the first book in a trilogy in the sense that you know the plot is not gonna get resolved (which duh, it is the first book) but I feel like if you don't give my brain a closer end-line, it cannot hold its focus. 

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gay's review

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adventurous challenging dark 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

5.0


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