The second installment in Paula Morris’ “Ruined” series sees Rebecca Brown, once again, getting mixed up with the ghosts of New Orleans. This is a sequel, but Morris provides more than enough context for one to enjoy this novel on its own. The writing is heavy on dialogue and fast-paced, with non-stop supernatural action. I’ll briefly outline what I enjoyed about Unbroken and the areas where it falls slightly short of greatness.
Morris’ main strength is her ability to create vivid imagery of New Orleans. The sights and sounds of the streets are so well described that New Orleans is practically a character in the story. The city comes alive off the pages and gives the reader a feeling of having been there already. Too often, the setting of a novel is incidental and writers fail to capture the unique characteristics of their chosen city. Morris is from New Zealand, but lived and worked in New Orleans from 2005-2010. Not only does her depiction of the city add depth to the story, her fascination with New Orleans is highly infectious and after reading Unbroken you will, more than likely, want to visit.
The major flaw in Morris’ writing is the lack of character development. As stated earlier, this novel is heavy on dialogue and full of fast-paced action. At times, the story reads more like a screenplay than a novel. This isn’t all bad, since it makes for a quick read and avoids pointless description. You may be disappointed if you’re a reader who likes stories which reveal aspects of characters over time, since any character development in Unbroken is quite shallow. However, if you enjoy an exciting story with no dull moments, this novel has a lot to offer.
Unbroken is not a formulaic Young Adult novel; it offers a fresh interpretation of supernatural fiction. While reading, you will feel as if you’re walking through the streets of New Orleans. It’s far from being a classic, but Unbroken is definitely worthy of being added to your “to-read” list.
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Review by Mark Hamilton