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Book Jacket

Hardcover
256 pages
May 2008
Waterbrook Press

Broken Angel

by Sigmund Brouwer

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Review:

Sigmund Brouwer's world of the future will be a harsh one. No longer united, the nation has divided into Appalachia, a world of technocratic religious Inquisitors who keep the people living in the 19th century through torture and technology, and the Outside, where Christian witness has been erased and genetic experimentation abounds.

Both societies are harsh ones for misfits. Caitlyn, Brouwer's Broken Angel, is a misfit, a freak, whom her father, Jordan, has taken to Appalacia to protect. However, the government Outside has found out about Caitlyn and has sent an agent to pick her up inside Appalachia. In cooperation, the Appalachian government has put Mason Lee, their most violent and successful bounty hunter, on Jordan's and Caitlyn's trail. When Jordan sacrifices himself to help Caitlyn escape, Lee's dogs tear up Jordan so badly that he dies on the table before he can be resuscitated by the local doctor for the outside agent, Carson Pierce, to question.

On the run, Caitlyn acquires two other "freaks." Young numerical whiz Theo Balder, although nearly blind, has unusually sharp hearing. He has escaped from the punishment factories and would rather die than return. And big, gentle Billy Jasper has been set up by Mason Lee for an arson and murder he didn't commit. With Lee and Pierce closing in on them, Caitlyn, Theo, and Billy have no choice but to flee to the dreaded Clan where they may find freedom, captivity, or even death.

Science fiction is a rare genre for Christian writers. If the best science fiction raises questions, Brower has written a great science fiction novel. He combines fascinating characters, a suspenseful plot, DNA manipulation, and big questions. With our country currently divided over life issues, what will it look like in 100 years? What could science do with DNA manipulation? Once they begin experimenting with cloning, where will it end? How will it affect those who are experimented upon?

However, some of Brower's message seems to attack those Christians who have become involved in the political process, at the same time lamenting their absence on the Outside to prevent the very philosophies and movements that they attack now:

"Outside, most people knew that decades ago, the religious fundamentalists lost their ability to transform society when they became a political movement. Their boycotts and protests were so commonplace, any outcry against anything beyond the narrow range of what they saw as Biblically acceptable was dismissed as a knee-jerk reaction. Once Appalachia was established, no one opposed liber- alism and humanism Outside." (p. 194)

This contemplation makes sense in the mind of one of the Outsiders, but I find it troubling coming from the major "mature Christian" in the book. I don't know of any fundamentalists who want to take over the country using torture, technology, and illiteracy.

The other troubling element of the story is more confusing than a problem. After reading the section several times, I'm still unclear on the ending: How the Outside government found out about Caitlyn and how Appalachia captured the Clan. Brouwer may have given this reader a little too much credit for catching on, but some of the ends he tied up raised more questions than they solved. Perhaps the sequel will clear these issues up.

All in all, Brouwer has written a fascinating story with a setting reminiscent of 1984 or Brave New World. Science fiction fans who enjoy Michael Crichton's stories would enjoy this read. Brouwer gives us a thought-provoking look at what DNA experimentation may mean in the future. -- Debbie Wilson, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com

Book Jacket:

Her birth was shrouded in mystery and tragedy.

Her destiny is beyond comprehension.

Her pursuers long to see her broken.

She fights to soar.

In the rough, shadowy hills of Appalachia, a nation carved from the United States following years of government infighting, Caitlyn and her companions are the prey in a terrifying hunt. They must outwit the relentless bounty hunters, skirt an oppressive, ever-watchful society, and find passage over the walls of Appalachia to reveal the dark secrets behind Caitlynís existenceĖand understand her fatherís betrayal.

In this engrossing, lightning-paced story with a post-apocalyptic edge, best-selling author Sigmund Brouwer weaves a heroic, harrowing journey through the path of a treacherous culture only one or two steps removed from our own.