Broken Lies, by Claire Vale


Scientists predicted it would take seventy years for the Arctic Shelf to completely melt. In the end, it took less than five. We lost thirty percent of our land to the oceans and a big chunk of our structure to panic and anarchy. The Melt crippled us. But it was the Arctic Virus at the bottom of The Melt, trapped for millennia in the darkest depths of ice strata, that broke us. The real flood was the Living Corpses. A population of billions turned to soulless, rabid shells within months. That’s what washed away the human race as we know it. Born into a post-apocalyptic world, Lake has grown up in the last city standing. Governed by what used to be the Queen’s Cold Stream Guard, vaccinated against the threat, life in Windsor City is both harsh and fair. The rules are designed to strengthen the city and ensure survival. Lake’s future is planned out with opportunities and unfair advantages and then there’s Ash—her best friend and hopefully more. Things could be worse, considering she’s living past the end of days. And, sometimes, she could definitely do with being a better person, which was what drafting into the Guard for two years of service was supposed to be about. But she has no idea what she’s signed up for. The city is more vulnerable than she’d ever imagined, on its knees at the mercy of a megalomaniac organisation, and she’s just been chosen to pay the price.

I requested a review copy from NetGalley, since the blurb sounded interesting. The wording was a mix of US English and UK English. I was able to discern what was going on with unfamiliar words and slang from context clues, but I did have to read more than a few sentences more than once to figure it out.

While the protagonist and her YA contemporaries were going through zombie-killing boot camp, I was reminded of some of my own experiences in NAVY Basic Training. We obviously didn’t train to kill zombies, but I was actually filled with a sliver of nostalgia for some of the good times in Basic Training.

The story did have some excellent themes of the young adult “finding their own way,” but much of the writing just seemed odd to me. It could be that my brain was trying to grapple with the US/UK English thing.

The story had just too much angst. The protagonist seemed to be too crippled by indecision and teenage angst to be a really likeable character. I felt more connected to her YA posse.

The last few chapters elicited a groan from me. It was as if the book didn’t know if it was a zombie story or what book two is obviously going to be. (I don’t want to spoil it.) It ended with a cheap cliffhanger, and obviously there will be at least another book. When this book is through, nothing of importance will be resolved – you gotta wait for book two or three for that.

I’m still awarding this three stars, because I suspect once the remaining books are written, it’ll be a fun read all the way through, despite the apparent change of genre in the last chapters.

Claire Vale lives in a small town outside London. When she’s not thigh-deep in real life, you’ll find her head-and-heart-deep in the tangled lives of her characters.


About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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