Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: Engines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee

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I received this book for free from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Engines of the Broken World by Jason VanheeEngines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on November 5th 2013
Genres: Supernatural, Thriller, YA
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Buy on Amazon

Merciful Truth and her brother, Gospel, have just pulled their dead mother into the kitchen and stowed her under the table. It was a long illness, and they wanted to bury her—they did—but it’s far too cold outside, and they know they won’t be able to dig into the frozen ground. The Minister who lives with them, who preaches through his animal form, doesn’t make them feel any better about what they’ve done. Merciful calms her guilty feelings but only until, from the other room, she hears a voice she thought she’d never hear again. It’s her mother’s voice, and it’s singing a lullaby. . . .

Oh my word this was weird. Like, disturbingly weird. Talking minister cat/squirrel/dog, deadly fog, walking corpses and all! Fortunately it was the kind of weird that was so weird it was creepy. Unfortunately, the weird turned into the religious which is almost always a complete turn-off for me.

In simple terms, this story is about the end of the world. We don’t understand exactly what’s going on at first. Everything is kept very cryptic with a constant ominous vibe. Little by little we learn about the earth’s condition, about what happened to bring it to this point including bizarre happenings that makes us wonder just how crazy it all is. The creepy definitely was my favorite part of this novel. When their dead mother’s corpse started walking about, it had my full attention. Then the more explanations we were given, the deeper my eyebrows furrowed. It went from a creepy paranormal into a religious experience.

The end of the world in this plot is based on God’s punishments for people’s greed etc, and that stuff just doesn’t fly with me. It’s not unusual in post apocalyptic stories to have mentions of God and people either blaming or accepting that it was God’s will and such, however with this one it was more than that. I felt like it was a book right out of Sunday school. It doesn’t leave much room for alternate interpretations either Everything from the walking corpses, their mother’s illness, to the minister cat turned dog turned squirrel turned prophet is explained with a strong Bible-based theology. With that said I think your views on religion and feelings toward spiritualism will likely have a big say on what you make of this book.

Religious aspect aside, it excelled in being disturbingly creepy with touches of horror and a vibe that makes you shudder. I was enjoying it immensely before the real premise showed it’s head. The book is also written with a hint – albeit an obvious one – of dialect. Some passages read as if the narrator is uneducated – which she is – and that adds to the book’s somber atmosphere.

In the end did I enjoy this book? At first I thought it was a yes – the creepy dominating over the unfortunate (for me) religious aspects. But after sleeping on it… no I just can’t say I would answer this question in the affirmative. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try it, but it’s definitely not for everyone.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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19 Responses to “Review: Engines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee”

  1. Jack

    We discussed this on Goodreads, but I see now that I’d really dislike this book because of the overuse of religion. I’m not very religious myself, so it doesn’t interest me at all when a novel comes with religious aspects. I think it’s a big risk when authors have religious themes in their story, because it’s always going to be controversial with readers. I usually dislike any book with the slightest hint of religion, because I just don’t think it’s a topic that fits well in the YA genre. Won’t be reading this one, for sure.

    Great review, Giselle!

  2. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    That’s such a shame when a good creepy book turns into a religious story of some sort. I hate when that happens. I don’t have anything against religion, but that’s something I would like to keep out of my books.
    Great honest review, Giselle.

  3. Christianna

    I’m really curious about this one now! I’m not apposed to religion in my books, so I have a feeling that I might end up liking this one a bit more than you did. Plus, it sounds really weird and odd. I like weird and odd! Thanks for the honest review!

  4. Candace

    This one just sounds so odd. And really, really creepy. I never would have read it anyway, but the religious aspect showing up sounds really strange with this type of book.

  5. Megan

    Oh no! I was excited for this one. It sounded so good and creepy, but the religious aspect is a major turn-off for me. Too bad. 🙁

  6. Mary @ BookSwarm

    You see that picture on the cover, the one where the hands are coming through the steps? FREAKS ME OUT!! We had steps like that in my old house and, as a kid, I was TERRIFIED of that idea. While this book didn’t rock, that cover certainly gives me the creeps.

  7. Kimmy

    I just finished this! The religious aspect wasn’t off-putting for me, but I can see how it would definitely hinder the reading experience if that’s a book turn-off.

    And I agree that it succeeded in being creepy, spooky, and majorly unsettling! I liked this one but I do love to hear different opinions!!

  8. ShootingStarsMag

    I was so excited after reading the summary. I hadn’t heard of this one before. But after reading your review, I don’t think I’d like this one enough because the extreme religious focus would rub me the wrong way after awhile.

  9. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Woah both super creepy and religious? That sounds crazy. I love creepy books but I’m not a fan of religious ones, so I don’t think this one was for me. Thanks for sharing with your great review though!

  10. Bonnie

    Yuck. I have a definite aversion to books going all religiousy. No thank you. I never would have guessed that this could go that route so thanks for making note of that!

  11. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    I keep seeing some not great reviews for this one. I am starting it tonight and I am nervous about it. I really was hoping this was the good kind of weird. I almost didn’t get this one for review because I was worried about the religious aspect of it, but was hoping it was creepy and cool instead of preachy.

  12. Pili

    Thanks for your great and honest review!
    This book sounded great with the creepy bits and the horror and all that but the religious tone you’ve mention… that’d be an absolute no-no for me. So NOT into books that end up preaching to me, hell no! I’ll be skipping this one for sure.