Author : Nandhika Nambi
Publisher : Duckbill Books
Genre : YA, Contemporary
Source : Publisher
Rating : 3/5 Stars
I have never read a book with a disabled character as it’s protagonist. In fact, the only character that I remember from any book that was wheelchair (or regular chair) bound was Heidi’s friend and she got up at the end anyway. So when I spotted Unbroken on Duckbill books’ twitter timeline I just HAD to request a copy to educate myself and maybe broaden my reading horizons. And, of course, share it with all of you!
Unbroken follows Akriti, a south Indian girl with a North Indian name who has gone through something terrible. Something we all hope never happens to us. And she’s come out on the other side a bitter and angry young woman. So bitter and angry that her family are afraid to even be around her and spend all day walking on eggshells if she is present. And she has quickly lost most of her friends and is in extreme danger of losing the remaining two.
Akriti lives with her parents, naturally, and one younger brother. He is the complete opposite of her and everything about him is positive! And while he gets along with everyone, she is the one person he cannot get along with because she thinks she sees him for who he really is, a goody two shoes who is pretending to be good and nice. In fact, this is highlighted rather heavily throughout the book. Akriti’s absolute belief that everyone around her is fake and how anything they do is pretence! This establishes her character pretty well, she’s not just a regular angry teenager who hates her parents, she hates everyone! You get the frustration she feels at the things she misses out because of her disability and how that makes her hate anyone who enjoys the activities that she used to enjoy.
WHAT I LIKED : I love how the author doesn’t shy away from making the protagonist despicable. Yes, you want to feel sorry for her and you want to understand but you can’t! Because she is that awful! Of course, then something happens to make her re-evaluate everything but that is at the very end and up until that point she is just awful! In fact, there is absolutely nothing likeable about Akriti and this sort of makes her a different protagonist because the author hasn’t bothered to turn her into a lovely saint. She has shown her as a realistic teenager who blames the whole world for her issues and this time the issues are actually serious.
Speaking of things that are serious, there is no love interest here. You have no idea what a relief it is to read a YA book that doesn’t have a love interest in it. I felt like I could finally stop worrying about cringe worthy moments and awkward insta romances. This was a great decision on the author’s part, had there been romance this would have completely taken away from the story and the lack of it made it so much more relatable. And despite there being no romance, there is a heavy emphasis on other relationships and how they change and how much they go through when one amongst them is suffering. There is another issue she tackles that I want to mention, something that people in India still consider taboo, but I have a feeling that it would be a spoiler so I shan’t.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE : While the story was easy and quick, I felt that it took away from the struggles she might have gone through. Yes, it has been two years since she lost her ability to walk, she needs a wheelchair now and she is used to it. But I felt that there could have been a bit more focus on that. I wish that the author had showed us how she lived rather than told us.
That’s all I didn’t like. Nothing else. That being said this is perfectly suited to a primarily YA audience. While I don’t read a lot of YA I do read some and so was able to enjoy this. If you don’t enjoy any YA this might not work for you since it is written in a light manner. That being said, it is perfectly safe for a younger audience as well. Not very young, just slightly younger.
So okay, I’m a monster.
But look what I have to deal with–my brother is a frightened little freak, my father is selfish and ill-tempered, my mother is an ignorant doormat and my friends are just plain irritating. And I’m in a prison surrounded by them all, with nowhere to escape.
People insist on seeing the worst in me. So, I show them the worst.
But one day, something happens .. and suddenly I see what these relationships and people (however annoying), mean to me. I’ve been a monster for such a long time now, I’ve almost forgotten what its like to be human.
What if it’s too late?
Many thanks to the publishers for sending me a review copy, thoughts expressed are my own.