Review: “Hopebreaker” by Dean F. Wilson

Hopebreaker by Dean F. WilsonA review by Vanessa.

Thanks to the author Dean F. Wilson for allowing me to review his book, the first in his series The Great Iron War.

In the world of Altadas war has been raging for 15 years.  The Regime, an invading army of demons, has been attempting to squash the Resistance led by the Order, to enslave and oppress humankind.  Their success is marked by their control over human birth and their ability to turn each birth into that of a new demon.  These new demons however, cannot thrive without the use of a white powder drug known as Hope.  This is where the Order sees their opportunity to strike…

Jacob is an independent smuggler with no desire to fight for any cause.  His luck takes an interesting turn when he is captured by the Regime and subsequently rescued by the Order when they come for the very important young man who happens to be Jacob’s cellmate.  Jacob’s reluctant smuggling help is needed to get the Order what they need to destroy the largest Hope factory and get a chance at finally weakening the Regime.  But the cost of taking up their cause might just be more than Jacob is willing to pay.  Even the beautiful, fiery leader of their mission, Taberah, may not be enough to convince Jacob to finally pick a side and take a stand.  Will he follow his greed or his conscience?  On the vast sands of Altadas, he may not end up with much of choice.

This book combines an interesting and wholly entertaining medley of “Mad Max”’s desert world, and “Star Wars”’ Han Solo, with an overture of steampunk throughout the story.  The author’s word choice and writing style are vivid and arresting.  His imaginative writing imparts an imagery that is beautiful even in its starkness.  The world he has created for the backdrop of the characters is engaging and fascinating as a visual piece of the story.  Action sequences come alive on the page.  It is easy to imagine simply stepping into the world with the way he gives the reader sight, sound, touch, taste and feeling.  The characters themselves are a motley crew, each holding their own in the story with no carbon copy cutouts placed simply to fill in the background.  The story moves, and brings the reader right along with it in a most engaging way.

The reading process was engaging, but unfortunately the world of the story, while vivid in the moment, is at times disappointingly two dimensional on the whole.  It lacks a desired backstory, which leaves a hole in the fascinating world that the author has created.  At the beginning of the book this gives a feeling of mystery and excitement but over the course of the book it becomes frustrating.  Jacob, for instance, is entertaining and humorous but the reader gets essentially none of his history.  His motivation is unfathomable.  In one moment he is a true smuggler out only for himself, and the next moment he is fighting an attack of conscience, the roots of which are unknown to the reader.  In addition, there are no real clues as to what Altadas was like before the Regime and the war, despite mentions that it has was greatly changed.  There was a catastrophic occurrence known as the Harvest, yet nothing is explained or described in relation to the Harvest, or what really happened.  The Regime is an army of demons, but where they came from and how they may have got there is unknown.  Obviously as the first in a series, this information might be revealed in later books.  However, I’m not sure how long the author is expecting the reader to hold out before these important plot points are shared.  I wanted to give this book more stars for the sheer enjoyability of the writing style, but those missing holes in the backstory are too large to ignore.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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