Breaking Order by Catherine Kopf
I was given a copy of Breaking Order by the author in exchange for a review. The following is my honest opinion of the book. First, I’d like to say that this book is meant for a younger audience, although it does contain some darker elements. I don’t typically read MG or young YA books but I thought the story was intriguing and there was a surprising turn that I wasn’t expecting which gives this dystopian a unique twist.
Breaking Order tells a story of a world where individuality is against the law. Calista lives in a regimented society and is the daughter of a man who executes rebels who step out of line. (Or unfortunate souls who just slip a bit on the strict standards…) She struggles with a growing curiosity that could get her killed if anyone discovered that she entertained certain ideas rather than purging them immediately from her thoughts. Her world feels bleak and uninspired until she meets Wes, who encourages her to dream. Once she begins, there’s no turning back. Her life becomes more magical, though considerably more dangerous.
In regards to world-building, I found the strictness within the society to be pretty believable. A combination of fear, brainwashing, and propaganda has kept the people living according to the Regime’s standards and Calista has been taught that this specific way to live is what keeps everyone safe. As a teenager, however, she has a natural curiosity that can’t help but rear its head in the face of what she’s been taught. She bounces back and forth, many times throughout the book, between the Regime’s conditioning and what she’s beginning to feel. Catherine Kopf gives a realistic sense of the internal struggle that inevitably comes when being awakened to new ideas that conflict with one’s established worldview.
The idea that creativity and different ideas are a danger to the status quo isn’t a new concept, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever read a book where it was banned to such an intense degree. Usually there’s some sort of outlet so that, even if options are limited, the people people don’t get too restless. The Regime seems to keep things locked down pretty tightly and, while that creates the kind of environment that people eventually rebel against, it’s easy to understand why the Regime has such intense rules/penalties once certain information is revealed. This was just one of the little details that gave the world a more unique but authentic feel.
Overall, I think that the plot was pretty good. The sense of anxiety and fear is well presented, and you can easily feel the oppression that the characters live under. I do wish the book had been a little bit longer to expand on some of the plot points, and it would have benefited from some extra editing. Younger readers may not mind the length/pace, though, and the story is compelling. I think that Catherine Kopf has talent and, with a little more polishing, she will bring some very interesting stories into the world. I look forward to seeing where this particular one goes in the next book, Splintering Reality!
3.8 out of 5 stars for Breaking Order!
EDIT: After publishing this review, I learned that Catherine published Breaking Order as a school project while she was still in high school. Now that she has graduated, she has unpublished the first two books with the intent of rewriting the series and has plans to republish at a later date. (12/7/19)