Review: Breakable (Contours of the Heart #2) by Tammara Webber

Quick review for a quick read. I feel like I could write a book for the problems in this narrative alone, but I think I’ll try to summarize in brief what worked in this book for me and what didn’t.

I’ll start with the positive: Lucas didn’t seem as much of a cardboard character in this book as the previous book. I liked the fact that Webber delved a bit into his childhood and pains over losing his mother (which was a huge significance in the previous book, but it felt tacked on in the latter parts of “Easy”). I also liked the fact that even with this book being a “retelling” of certain events, there was more than enough new material to make it not feel like a rehash of “Easy”. Other New Adult authors haven’t handled this well in terms of the whole “retelling” from the hero’s perspective (and believe me, reading cut and pasted text is NOT fun as a reader. It’s gotten to the point where it’s done so much that it’s become a cliche, and while some can make it work, it’s usually far and few between based on how it’s done), so I’m glad that Webber didn’t necessarily fall too much into that.

That said, this book had a lot of issues, some of which upset me in the course of reading “Breakable.”

For one, pacing in this book dragged primarily because of the time jumps that were in this book. There were so many of them and they weren’t always sequential to the events of the story or time, some of them were included without much linkage. On one hand, I saw that this was to provide ample background on Lucas/Landon’s identity issues and how one of the conflicts of “Easy” bubbled to the surface, but this book felt like a slog in places because it was so cumbersome. It did make it easier to see the time jumps in terms of the POV switches between Landon and Lucas to distinguish the before and after, but not all of it flowed as well as it could’ve.

For another, my major problem was with how Lucas’s character was portrayed as well as the issues contained in this work. Granted, Lucas is very flawed, he has many, MANY issues and I understood that. That’s not my complaint. I don’t expect him to be a perfect character. I actually appreciated that this narrative, albeit brief, provided a male perspective on the contradictions of gender perceptions, relations, and sexual shaming, including the (all too often) casual attributions of the word “rape.” But it was far too brief, which made me question if it really meant anything to the characters within. There were statements made, but all too often, they were either contradicted or dropped before any meaning could be had with them in the context of the text. “Easy”, for me, had this same problem – and it often made the assertions made feel empty or otherwise unsupported compared to the love story.

There were also times when they were so blatantly contradicted, by Lucas himself even. I understand envy, but darn, for him to shame another woman (he basically said she wasn’t “intelligent”) and complain and compare her role to Jackie (Lucas was shaming Kennedy’s new relationship, after he broke up with Jackie) was just completely against anything Lucas might’ve said about women being targets for this kind of criticism.

As for Lucas’s character, I did feel for him on the loss of his mother and the past accounts for him grappling with that and struggling to make a future for himself. But I still had problems connecting with him in the “present” with his relationship with Jackie. For one, who the heck would fixate on being jealous upon seeing a condom that doesn’t belong to the heroine and speculating about the heroine’s relationships with people JUST AFTER SHE WAS NEARLY RAPED?! Seriously, who does that?! And for another, I didn’t like how Lucas said “it could’ve been much worse”, and it wasn’t made better by the fact that he said he’d never tell Jackie that. For one, that trivializes the hardship she just went through. Pain is not a freaking competition. It’s not a matter of trying to compare what could’ve happened than what did. That feels like it’s trivializing Jackie’s sexual assault.

And I almost think from certain portrayals/statements that Lucas is more fixated on the role of being the hero -whether it’s fighting (between punching the rapists/SAs and leaving them to a bloody pulp) or trying to be the healer of the victims – in the aftermath of witnessing rapes (because he’s involved in this kind of incident more than once) than he is about the fact that these women were either nearly raped or raped. That bothers me. The sexual assault/rapes were mostly background noise compared to the romance, and this was a problem in “Easy” as well. It wasn’t treated with the maturity I’ve read in other narratives. Heck, even Buck was still reduced to the “evil rapist” who just kept popping up for the sake of tension in the novel, and it was worse in this novel than “Easy” because there wasn’t really the immediacy of his threat (though notably, this was from Lucas’s perspective).

I don’t know, I feel like there’s so much about these first two novels that kept me at a distance from fully connecting with the characters and the matters here – I feel it’s far overblown for the significance of the portrayal of these serious matters and it’s nowhere near the level of really grappling and presenting emotionally and constructively what it touches upon. I’m interested in reading the third novel in this series (“Sweet”) because I have an investment in the characters in that narrative (they made an appearance here and made good impressions on me). I’m hoping it’s a better experience than “Easy” or this novel.

Overall score: 1.5/5 stars.

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