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.Engines 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
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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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