Publisher's Note:  

Adam wants nothing more than to be a "normal" teen, but his reality is quickly leaking normal. Afraid to sleep because of the monster that stalks his dreams, Adam's breakdown at school in front of his crush Sarah lands him in the hospital.

As he struggles to cope with his day-to-day life, Adam can only vaguely comprehend some sort of future. His mother died when he was only four and his eccentric father--who might be an assassin, a voodoo god, the reincarnation of the Buddha, or something even stranger--is never available when Adam really needs him. Even his paranoid grandfather, who insists that people are "out to kill the entire family," is no help.

Adam's life takes an even weirder turn when a fat man with a gold tooth and a medallion confronts his father regarding Adam's supposed "True Destiny." Adam is soon headed toward a collision with life, death, and the entities charged with shepherding souls of the newly dead, all competing to control lucrative territories where some nightmares are real and psychopomps of ancient legends walk the streets of North America.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Akashic Books

Broken Circle

by J. L. Powers & M.A. Powers

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Overall Review:  

This story had an interesting premise:  a teen boy born into the family of the Grim Reaper. Unbeknownst to him, he is destined to take over the family business one day. He learns about this fate when a strange man tracks him down and impels his father to send him to a school for people like him - the harbingers of death, the ones charged with helping souls cross over after death.

The main character, Adam, suffers from recurrent nightmares where a ghoulish Thing chases after him. Choosing to be an insomniac rather than face the nightmare over and over each night, he discovers that those nightmares are in fact real, the place is his Limbo, and unless he can conquer the Thing once and for all, it might just kill him.

Each Grim Reaper, Angel of Death, or member of the La Muerte clan can access their versions of Limbo, but Adam's is the most violent, inhabited by a gruesome Thing that tries to devour him every time he sees Her. The descriptions can be a little disturbing to read, but overall the plot was interesting and I enjoyed the idea that those in the "soul business" inherited the job by virtue of being born into that particular bloodline. The Broken Circle by J.L. Powers and M.A. Powers has an ending, but there are numerous loose threads left hanging that pave the way for a sequel. This is definitely more of a horror novel, similar to the TV show Supernatural, and as such would likely be enjoyed by readers who enjoy that show.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  19 religious exclamations; 45 mild obscenities; 2 religious profanities; 3 derogatory names; 22 scatological words; 22 anatomical terms; 1 offensive hand gesture; 9 F-Word derivatives. 

Violence/Gore:  Many instances of violence and gore, including but not limited to: A character often has nightmares about a Thing chasing and devouring him; a character senses someone is going to die; characters witnesses a car accident; a character is reported to have had a seizure and go berserk at school; characters sometimes have verbal and physical fights/arguments/brawls; a character discovers his nightmares are real; a male character is cornered and beaten up by three other boys, with some description of injuries; a character severely injures his attackers; in an extended scene, a character is warned his life is in danger, two characters discuss the family business and someone's obsession with death, and a character is warned he will have enemies who will try and kill him; a character accidentally pulls himself and another character into Limbo, where they are threatened by a nightmarish Thing; a character is pushed in front of a train, but isn't injured; gang members get into a fight; characters read each other's minds/souls; characters talk about bad spirits escaping Limbo and murdering people; a character falls from a window; a Thing from a character's Limbo follows him into the real world; two male characters fight and end up in a Limbo where they are attacked, with some description of blood and violence; a character kicks someone in the crotch; characters are pursued by members of an organization; a character is attacked and kidnapped; a character wakes chained to a bed; a female character knocks out a male character; in an extended scene, a character goes to Limbo and fights the Thing waiting for him, sees a shape-shifting creature suck a wound on a girl's hand and then sink its teeth into her chest, and while rescuing the girl the two of them are shot at with guns (not overly violent, but somewhat disturbing); a character points a shotgun at someone; characters are trapped in a burning building in Limbo; a character in Limbo knows his body is dead in the real world; characters discuss the possibility of war.

Sex/Nudity:  A character thinks about putting his arms around someone; a character describes someone's shadow as looking like sperm; a story is told about two lovers basking in their passionate love; a hypnotist is described as commanding people to take off articles of clothing; a character in a story rips at her bodice; a character imagines the girl he likes married to someone else; a male and female characters' hips touch, and they hold hands; a male character occasionally texts a female character; a character recalls his father leaning over his mother; character joke about a clan being incestuous; a character is described as being pregnant; a male character is said to have been crushing on a girl since he was twelve; a boy notices a girl wearing a shirt that clings in all the right places; a girl sleeps on the floor in a boy's room; a boy flirts with a girl; a character jokes he knows how to put condoms on a carrot; a female character touches a male character on the arm; a boy and a girl sleep together for protection (not sexual); a female character is jealous when her boyfriend brings another girl to their date; male and female characters occasionally hug each other; characters briefly mention sex ed; a boy and girl kiss.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Underage drinking, death of a family member, death of a friend, teen smoking, gang affiliation, poor family life.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

A character attends AA meetings; a character takes a medicine called NoDoz to keep from sleeping; a character takes a teen to a store that sells cigarettes and liquor; a character is said to need whiskey; characters see a drunken man; a character is described with tattoos and earrings; two teen girls smoke cigarettes; a teen boy frequently smokes a pipe; characters take shots from a flask; characters celebrate Day of the Dead and put cups of alcohol on an altar; numerous adults and teens drink alcohol at a celebration; a teen drinks tequila; a character is injected with a soporific; characters pretend someone has taken Dramamine.

Reviewed By Katrina
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