Review: Unbroken by Paula Morris

Unbroken by Paula Morris

Welcome back to New Orleans.
Where the streets swirl with jazz and beauty.
Where the houses breathe with ghosts.

A year ago, Rebecca Brown escaped death in a New Orleans cemetery. Now she has returned to this haunting city. She is looking forward to seeing Anton Grey, the boy who may or may not have her heart.

But she also meets a ghost: a troubled boy who insists only she can help him. Soon Rebecca finds herself embroiled in another murder mystery from more than a century ago. But as she tries to right wrongs, she finds more questions than answers: Is she putting her friends, and herself, in danger? Can she trust this new ghost? And has she stumbled into something much bigger and more serious than she understands?

Unbroken is the sequel to Ruined. This review may contain spoilers for Ruined.

Unbroken is a real letdown after Ruined. The ghost story and related mystery in Ruined were much more related to Rebecca’s own life, and that made them more interesting. The ghost in Unbroken is just a random ghost who needs Rebecca’s help, lest he wander the streets of New Orleans for eternity. I think another part I liked about Ruined more than Unbroken was that Rebecca was new to New Orleans and was learning everything about it. It was like we explored the city together, in a way. In Unbroken, she already knows the city, and while she gets to show her New York friend Ling around, they don’t seem to go many interesting places. Poor Ling gets to spend most of her spring break cleaning up weeds and garbage. (Although she doesn’t seem to mind…)

I do like Ling a lot, and I’m glad she makes the trek to New Orleans with Rebecca. Rebecca was on her own so much during Ruined because she didn’t connect with the other students in her temporary school. It’s a nice change for her to have someone to really confide in, at least once she decides to let Ling in on her secret. I have to say, I would not have been so quickly open-minded if my best friend told me she was able to see and aid ghosts! I’m also glad to see a little more inclusion of Rebecca’s cousin Aurelia. She’s only thirteen, so it’s natural that she’s left out a lot, but I like her.

Rebecca and Anton have kept in touch since her return to New York and now they’re reunited at last, but Rebecca’s not sure where they stand. It soon becomes clear because they spend most of their time fighting over ghosts. This is not a couple that’s going to last. I think I liked them in Ruined, but here, there’s no real spark. There are two new male characters, Phil and Raf, and I find both of them more interesting than Anton.

Unbroken seems unfocused. There’s too much going on: Rebecca/Anton, the return (and revenge) of Toby Sutton, not just one but THREE ghosts, Rebecca’s attempts to help Ghost Frank, Rebecca and Ling’s volunteer work, the new characters, social commentary on the gentrification of Treme. It’s all tied together, but it’s just one or two elements too many.

2 1/2 stars
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Comments

  1. I’m sorry that this didn’t work for you, Jenna! I can only count in my one hand the ghost stories I’ve read in my entire life. So I really don’t know how to review them. Or even how to react after I read reviews of ghost stories. Hahaha.

    But anyway, let me try okay? When you said that this book didn’t have the same magic as book 1, it sound like the author lost her creative juices or firepower. Hahahaha. I really hate it when I am reading a series and the sequel is terrible. It’s like I am already doomed to a terrible fate. I rarely DNF series. As much as possible, I will finish it until the last book. So you can imagine how tortured I am if I am reading a bad series.

    And the characterization here must be bad because you liked Ling more than Rebecca. Am I correct? Also, you’re more interested with the two new males. Now, that’s really alarming because if I feel that way, the book would be really bad.

    I also get you about the very unfocused plot. It’s like the author really didn’t know what to tackle and she/he is just attempting to make things longer and interesting.

    I hope you’ll find a better read next time, Jenna!
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    • It’s hard to remember back so many books, but I don’t remember that I really liked Rebecca that much in the first book. I didn’t dislike her, but I don’t think she was a great character even then. The story was what interested me. Ling (and Aurelia) is a minor character, so maybe if I got to know her better, I wouldn’t like her either.

      About the two new guys, I don’t know if I would want one of them for Rebecca in place of Anton (and Ling liked one, so that only leaves the other), but I did like them better as characters than him. I guess I just have issues with the characterization in these books. I wonder if there will be any more books. I’ll probably give the next one a try, if there is.
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