A review by aquamarine18
The Unbroken, by C. L. Clark

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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