Like me, if you enjoy dystopian stories, you’ll enjoy the Breaking Trilogy by Karen Langtree.
As a fellow Yorkshire and dystopian author, I met Karen at a writer’s group before I published Crowned Worthy. We have bonded over a love for dystopian settings and characters and I jumped at the chance to buy the Breaking Trilogy. Karen read the start of the first book at the writer’s group meeting and I was instantly intrigued by the concept of a teenage girl, wielding a knife, threatening to kill someone. Now, you might be thinking, that sounds extremely violent?! But, the answer is - which dystopian books or movies aren’t violent, whether in the physical or emotional form?
A dystopia, by definition, is an imagined world or society, in which people lead wretched, dehumanised, and fearful lives. In that kind of world, and knowing the human condition, it would make no sense for violence not to feature. Langtree handles these tropes of her characters very sensitively in her trilogy, especially with the female protagonist, Chas. She is fiery, fierce and fearless but also weighed down by a traumatic childhood, which runs through all her behaviours and decisions. As the trilogy goes on though, we start to see a softer side to her, which helps to relate to her character on a deeper level. After all, we all go through trauma and it’s the way we react and change alongside it that reveals the kind of person we want to be.
In a similar way, the male protagonist Si, has his own battles, including the way he feels about Chas despite her resistance towards him. What Langtree has achieved really well is getting readers to route for their relationship from the first few pages of Breaking Silence. Despite their constant bickering, you know they’re a good fit and could make a difference to the society they live in; one controlled by tyranny under the Rulers. Their relationship actually reminded me a lot of the one between Peeta and Katniss in the Hunger Games, which is no bad thing, although it was for those on Team Gale.
The trilogy begins with Breaking Silence, a good introduction to the story set in a dystopian Britain. It was fun for familiar locations and landmarks in North England to feature as it was easy to imagine how places such as Seahouses could look in such a world. We get to know Chas, Si and their friend Ben as they try to rescue Si’s parents from prison. There is also a Plague running through the country (a bit close to home in 2020/21!) but there is more to that than you first think. As the trilogy continues into Breaking Lies, we see more of Chas’ childhood and how much that directs her decision-making, beyond any feelings or loyalties she might have to Si. We also see more of the Rulers themselves and how they are dictating and intensifying their regime across Britain, until we reach the climax in book three, Breaking Up. Throughout the trilogy, technology heavily features and helpfully builds up this world in a reader’s mind.
There are certainly many twists and turns within the storylines, some I saw coming and others a surprise. While the plotlines and language aren’t mind blowing if you were to compare it to something like Brave New World and the like, the Breaking Trilogy is an excellent reading option for exposing teenagers to more complex storylines and character nuances. It’s easy to read, has great pace and does keep you turning the page, which is the whole point, right?
Massive congratulations to Karen on this trilogy, it’s an amazing achievement and something that I’m sure will be enjoyed by many.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the trilogy (including grabbing your own copies!) or more about Karen’s writing, visit Monkey Island Publishing.