If you’re a nerd girl like me, there’s been a Buffy-sized hole in your heart ever since the show went off the air in 2003. Sure, there are Buffy comics, reruns, and fanfic, but if they don't do it for you, I’m happy to report that I recently read a book which reminded me of the iconic show in a really, really good way.
At its heart, Buffy was the story of a teenage girl who became an unlikely hero, a cheerleader thrust into a dangerous landscape who thrives once given the responsibility of protecting the world. Yes, Buffy kicked butt as the Chosen One, but to my mind, it was in the vulnerable moments that the character and writing shined.
Writing a young female superhero who is equal parts flawed and powerful was pretty groundbreaking then. Yet, here we are, several years later and I haven’t seen many writers able to pull off the tension of balancing normal teenage heartbreaks and super powers in such a nuanced way.
Until now that is. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that THE BROKENHEARTED by Amelia Kahaney is just what Dr. Whedon ordered.
Fast paced and excellently plotted, THE BROKENHEARTED is the story of Anthem Fleet, a wealthy, pampered ballerina whose life is turned upside down when she goes to a seedy party in the wrong part of town. There she meets Gavin, a mysterious artist, and is immediately drawn into his gritty world.
Anthem and Gavin both live in Bedlam, a Gotham-like city of vast economic disparity. Echoes of Occupy Wall Street and other very timely visceral scenes create a vivid and bleak world of corruption, poverty, and indifference.
What starts off like a Romeo and Juliet story, soon takes a much darker turn. Anthem escapes her penthouse cocoon to be with Gavin, but things go horribly awry after their first and only night together. Gavin’s kidnapped and Anthem falls to her death in a tragic accident. But the starcrossed lovers' story isn't over then. Not even close. Anthem wakes up in an underground medical lab, with a bionic heart ticking in her chest and a whole lot of super hero skills including strength and speed. Anthem sets out to save Gavin, exact revenge, and uncover the truth about the underbelly of Bedlam. She even finds time to go to ballet practice.
Book cover image by Harper Teen.