Unbreakable, by Kami Garcia (Review)

The first book of an intended series, Unbreakable has a strong female protagonist and shows some promise!

The evil forces of the demon Andras seek to destroy the only group of people united to stop him. Now it’s the next generation of Legion to take charge, but although Kennedy’s mother was one of the Legion members murdered by Andras’ murderous vengeance spirits, she doesn’t think she is one of them…or up to the challenge of helping them defeat the demon. Thus is the plot of Unbreakable. Penned by the co-author of the popular Beautiful Creatures books, Kami Garcia, this young adult novel promises action, a little mystery, and a bit of romance.We begin in an appropriately moody graveyard. Kennedy is searching for her lost cat. This is the first time she has an experience with anything supernatural. She sees a girl in a white dress floating inches above the ground. As any rational person would, she discounted the apparition being real.It is soon after that she finds her mother dead, the cat sitting on her mother’s chest, bringing to mind an old wives tale about cats stealing the breath (usually of children). Kennedy’s life is turned upside down. Her mother the only family she was close to after her father left when she was a child. On her last night alone in the house, she’s having a nightmare which turns out to be a very real spirit attacking her, and two hunky guys, Jared and Lukas Lockhart, burst into the room. They shoot the spirit with liquid salt which makes it dissipate. For now. She doesn’t trust them at first, but they tell her the scoop: there’s a demon controlling vengeance spirits to murder members of the Legion, including Kennedy’s mother and the Lockhart’s father. The children of the Legion must band together and hunt down pieces of a weapon their ancestors hid across the country to destroy the demon.These kids all have special gifts to aid them. Jared is a fighter, Lukas is adept at studying patterns, young Priest can put together all sorts of weapons, badass Alara learned how to create wards thanks to her Haitian grandmother. Kennedy doesn’t believe she has what it takes to complete their new Legion. She grew up unawares that such dangers existed. All she has is an eidetic—more commonly called “photographic”– memory that plagued her in school and marked her as weird.Let’s look at our main gal, our window into this world whom is Kennedy Waters. Normally your main character should be taking part in a lot of the action, but Kennedy doesn’t get much time to shine for a while. She kicks around with the group, mostly because it’s too dangerous for her to be on her own. There is a moment when they discover clues that lead them to a haunted well. She goes in after Priest is attacked by the ghost down there, but ends up needing saving herself. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Sure, there should be a learning curve, but did Kennedy get to act as a protagonist or a damsel in distress?She’s definitely got major abandonment issues. The biggie is that her Dad left her when she was little. With her eidetic memory, she can even remember the note he left her mother. You get the feeling that maybe he just wasn’t a selfish jerk—maybe he knew Kennedy’s mother was involved with something dangerous. But the major thing she keeps bringing up is her ex-boyfriend Chris. Seems petty, and it drags on a little too long in my opinion. When she and Jared inevitably become somewhat of an item, she immediately thinks Jared will abandon her. No doubt she is a wounded soul, but I got annoyed at her reaction to him pushing away.The book was a fairly smooth read, and Garcia is good at interesting description that goes beyond the average fare. The book kept the pace up, either working on the team drama within the Legion or the more actiony scenes destroying evil. It kept me reading, which is something considering these kind of YA books are a dime a dozen these days.My main concern early in the book was a lot of glaring similarities to the TV show Supernatural. Right from the get-go we have two brothers trained from birth to fight supernatural beings, and one of them is named “Jared” (one of the main actors). They even worked salt into their guns, although in this story they use liquid salt rounds, while in the TV show they use rock salt. They also line windows and doorways with salt and have Devil’s Traps…but later into the book I didn’t worry about the few similarities anymore. For one thing, these plot elements are present in a lot of stories based on folklore and superstitions, so no harm no foul.  Also Lukas and Jared are different from Sam and Dean, it just takes time to get to that point.This book does a good job of having the “chosen ones” trope while focusing on the outsider looking in. You know what I mean by a “chosen one” story, right? The main character, usually a nobody, is called to action because they are the one the prophecy foretold…yada, yada, yada. Kennedy in Unbreakable is sure that she’s not cut out for this world and isn’t mean to be part of the Legion—but she wants to help anyway. Part of it is her need to belong, but another part I believe is her altruism.I wouldn’t be doing this novel justice if I didn’t mention the romance angle. I am not a romance buff. I’ve mentioned it in reviews before (see also: my She-Hulk Diaries review). Give me more action, and less sappy protags who want a boyfriend above all else. It’s why I can’t stand Twilight (Okay, one reason why). Kami Garcia did a commendable job of not soaking this story in mushy romance. The narrative doesn’t overdo the love subplot, and Kennedy and Jared’s natural interest in each other develops at a comfortable pace.There’s a delightful twist near the end that I dare not give away. Let’s just say it sets up a sequel quite nicely. I’ll look forward to a second book. Since the main characters are now set up, I feel a Book 2 will bring more story and more mystery to the table, becoming an irresistible read. Also given the great twist at the end, I’m looking forward to the story going a darker, more dangerous route for the Legion. I hope Garcia delivers.Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek. And Google+, if that’s your thing!