Book Review: Chainbreaker by Tara Sim

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Clock mechanic Danny Hart knows he’s being watched. But by whom, or what, remains a mystery. To make matters worse, clock towers have begun falling in India, though time hasn’t Stopped yet. He’d hoped after reuniting with his father and exploring his relationship with Colton, he’d have some time to settle into his new life. Instead, he’s asked to investigate the attacks.
After inspecting some of the fallen Indian towers, he realizes the British occupation may be sparking more than just attacks. And as Danny and Colton unravel more secrets about their past, they find themselves on a dark and dangerous path–one from which they may never return.

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I only recently finished Timekeeper and while I was sure I wanted to continue the trilogy, I didn’t know when I was gonna read the rest. But my dearest friend Dini started reading this sequel and I couldn’t resist either.

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I thought Timekeeper was a bit on the slow paced but this one felt a bit faster, with things happening a little more quickly. There are a few scenes in between when things slow down and I felt like I might be getting bored, but the writing quickly picked up and something exciting happened to pull me back into it. The author using multiple POVs and each arc having its own bit of mystery also helped in keeping me very engaged in the story and wanting to know what was going to happen next. I could definitely see a lot of improvement in the author’s writing from her debut and that’s awesome. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn the turn this story took, expanding its mythology in a way that promises to be even more vast in the finale and I did not see that coming.

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I was actually very excited for this sequel before I even started the trilogy because I knew this was going to take place in colonial India and I wanted to know how the author captures that period in a fantasy. I have to say she really was very successful in bringing the world to life, showing us a bit about the life during those times and also exploring multiple cities like Meerut, Agra and Lucknow which I usually don’t find in many books, even those by authors living in India. We also get to see how intertwined the lives of the Brits and Indians, a result of more than a century of occupation – the locals loathe the British administration for their callousness and racism and every other atrocity that is committed, but they also depend on them for all basic amenities because that’s where the control lies; so the ordinary people have no option but to make the best out of a bad situation. I thought the author captured this dichotomy quite well.

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Danny was a very sympathetic protagonist in Timekeeper but I seemed to have lost a little bit of love for him this time around. I still like him for wanting to protect the clock towers and save thousands of people from violence, but him taking almost every decision keeping Colton in mind infuriated me a little. I guess his almost obsessive love is understandable as a teenager but he is also responsible for a very important task, and I think he let his personal feelings affect his job much more this time around. Another point I had mixed feelings about was him trying to explain to an Indian boy that the British occupation was wrong but rebels shouldn’t plan another mutiny because there were bad people on both sides and it would lead to more violence – I understand the sentiment and his good intentions, but I felt very uncomfortable with the way that whole arc played out in the story.

I loved that we got Colton’s POV in this book. He is also quite obsessive in his feelings for Danny, but I could understand that because he is a spirit and he really has no else he cares about. I was quite in awe of the kind of lengths he went to to get to Danny. But the best part of the book was definitely getting to know his origin story – that was a complete surprise and I’m still reeling from the implications of it all.

Daphne is another wonderful character and I loved getting to know her better. She is part Indian like the author herself and it was so interesting to see Daphne finally come to the country that her father belonged to, feeling different because she doesn’t look like any of the people around but still feeling some sort of connection to the land through her father. I also liked how determined she was in her job despite so much sexism (in various different forms) thrown her way – she is good at what she does and she won’t let anyone stop her. She is also such a kind soul, always having her friend’s back when they need her support.

Akash and Meena are siblings who are assigned to help Danny and Daphne and it was a joy meeting them. Meena is subjected to quite similar sexist attitudes because she is a mechanic as well, but she holds her head high and never backs down from any fight. Akash is a much more cheerful guy, always happy to help and maybe even flirt and just overall bring some light to the story. There are also a few British and Indian soldiers we meet and I liked that the author managed to give each of them a distinct voice and personality.

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To conclude, I thought this sequel was a lot of fun and I definitely read it with much more enthusiasm than the previous book. The writing and plot is definitely more interesting this time around but there were just a few things that made me uncomfortable. However, if you liked Timekeeper, you should totally pick this up and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it a lot. If you haven’t read this series but would like to try a YA fantasy set in alternate Victorian England and colonial India with quite a bit of angsty forbidden romance thrown in, you should totally check this out. This sequel is the kind of book that despite my little mixed feelings, ends in such a wow cliffhanger that I know I can’t read anything else until I read the finale.

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