Review: The Brokenhearted By Amelia Kahaney

The Brokenhearted
Amelia Kahaney

HarperTeen
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Released October 8, 2013
336 pages
YA / Superheros / SciFi

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A teenage girl is transformed into a reluctant superhero and must balance her old life with the dark secret of who she has become.

Prima ballerina Anthem Fleet is closely guarded by her parents in their penthouse apartment. But when she meets the handsome Gavin at a party on the wrong side of town, she is immediately drawn into his dangerous world. Then, in a tragic accident, Anthem falls to her death. She awakes in an underground lab, with a bionic heart ticking in her chest. As she navigates her new life, she uncovers the sinister truth behind those she trusted the most, and the chilling secret of her family lineage…and her duty to uphold it.

The Dark Knight meets Cinder in this gripping and cinematic story of heartbreak and revenge. From Alloy Entertainment, this inventive new superhero story is sure to captivate any reader.

I’m not entirely sure what I expected from The Brokenhearted. The press clippings compared it to everything from Frankenstein to The Dark Knight, so I wasn’t sure how any of that would tie into a rich teenage girl with an affinity for ballet. The Brokenhearted takes a little bit of time to get its feet underneath it, but once it does, it really goes for the whole superhero origin story without looking back.

Anthem is the daughter of two rich industrialist parents who are responsible for the buildings all the where the wealthy people in Bedlam live. She’s a normal rich girl, going to prep school and spending her free time being the best ballerina possible, hoping one day to move out of her older sister’s shadow. It’s more unfortunate for Anthem because her older sister died before she was ever born and she’s felt like a replacement daughter or consolation prize ever since.

One night she decides to do something rebellious for once, going to the bad side of town with her best friend to a party. She meets a mysterious and attractive boy from the wrong side of the tracks, who seems sweet despite where he lives. What seems like a Romeo & Juliet type story quickly gets Anthem off track from her predesigned life until she finds herself wrapping in the plotting of the Syndicate mob and falling into the frozen river that runs through town. She wakes up with a new hummingbird-hybrid heart and all sorts of crazy kicks in.

It’s very much a superhero origin story with Anthem suddenly having some pretty miraculous powers and the motivation to clean up the streets of her home that is just shy of being Gotham. It’s not particularly original with a lot of the storylines easily traced to their comic book inspirations, but it’s a fun book nonetheless and a good start for someone wanting to read about a female superhero but scared of the vast canon of comics.

Anthem starts as a very middle of the road safe girl as far as personality goes and pays big time for her choice to finally do a “bad thing”. By the end, she has a lot more courage, but still kind of a bland one-track personality. As she develops and the secondary characters around her develop, this should hopefully be resolved. She has a lot of potential to be a very complex heroine with varying motivations.

GIANT MASSIVE SPOILER FOR THE ENDING AHEAD

I honestly would have been pleasantly surprised if Gavin had been murdered by his mob kidnappers. From the moment he was dragged away, I figured he was in on the plot to get Anthem’s money. When he was shot, I started having a tiny doubt, but knew the whole thing could have been faked because Anthem was so inexperienced and emotion to realize he wasn’t actually dead. So I found it a little disappointing to know he was the ringleader of the whole thing. I would have preferred the ringleader have been her dad or her principle or someone else that I didn’t expect.

Despite that complaint though, I did enjoy The Brokenhearted even though it wasn’t quite what I expected. Kahaney kept everything fast-paced and while the secondary characters aren’t yet fully developed, the action made up for any deficit in characterization, plus there’s plenty of space in the sequels for us to get to know everyone else. This is a fun female-led dip into superhero-land that felt satisfying despite being a rehashed version of very old-school tropes. This could very well develop into a very interesting series.

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