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Engines of the Broken World
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Engines of the Broken World

3.11 of 5 stars 3.11  ·  rating details  ·  160 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Merciful Truth and her brother, Gospel, have just pulled their dead mother into the kitchen and stowed her under the table. It was a long illness, and they wanted to bury her—they did—but it’s far too cold outside, and they know they won’t be able to dig into the frozen ground. The Minister who lives with them, who preaches through his animal form, doesn’t make them feel a ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (first published February 23rd 2011)
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Oh my word this was weird. Like, disturbingly weird. Talking minister cat/squirrel/dog, deadly fog, walking corpses and all! Fortunately it was the kind of weird that was so weird it was creepy. Unfortunately, the weird turned into the religious which is almost always a complete turn-off for me.

In simple terms, this story is about the end of the world. We don't understand exactly what's going on at first. Everything is kept very cryptic with a constant ominous vibe. Little by little we learn ab
Faye, la Patata

Wow, this book fucked my mind inside and out.

Like post-apocalyptic fiction, I love apocalyptic ones, too. I love reading about the sense of urgency that goes along with it, that kind of emergency where everyone is scrambling and panicking about an event that would end the world as we know it. I've read a few good ones, but more often than not, a lot of them use the same old formula that a new, refreshing voice in these genres is in order. I think I've found that voice in Jason Vanhee. Oh boy, E
Nov 06, 2013 MLE rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: arc, yad
Elspeth and I have decided to move our blog, and in honor of my first blog post on our new site I have written a different review for our blog.

I received this book as an ARC through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

When I started this book I was a little thrown off by the writing style. Something about it was a little jarring in the beginning, but once I got a little ways into the book I became more used to it, and saw how the author was using it t
A bizarre book. Came across it at my local library and picked it up based on the title alone. Every word of this debut is contained within the immediate surroundings of the two main characters, brother and sister Gospel and Merciful Truth. For real. Scuttling around the narrative is a "made thing" called Minister. Again, for real. If there is supposed to be hidden layers of meaning on those names, that are indeed "hidden." A story unfolds involving gluttonous clouds of mist, endless cold and sno ...more
I got my hands on an ARC of this, so I guess it's possible there could have been changes made to the final copy.

I really was not sure what to make of this. On the one hand, it moved quickly and was certainly disturbing or scary enough for the age group it's for, I think. On the didn't make a whole lot of sense. There were times I struggled to follow it, so I question how a younger audience might. The main problem I had was that when explanations were given, they just did not make sens
Angelina Justice
This nihilistic approach to a post-apocalyptic world, is definitely horrifying. I suspect it is science fiction in nature, but I wouldn't characterize it as dystopia. It is lacking in the explanatory markers. It has the hopeful rebel, but even she is obliterated.

Perhaps the only thing worse than having one's parent rise as a mindless zombie, is to have them rise as a fragmented version of their previous selves. A version of the mother that is selfish and frightening in pursuit of life that is al
A creepy debut that keeps the surprises coming. Felt like a Southern Gothic dystopian. The two main characters have great, Gothic names: Merciful and Gospel Truth. They grow up with a crazy mother and creature/pet/caretaker called the Minister. A well-told chiller of a story.
Neil McCrea
I've known Jason for 28 or so years. There have been large periods of time with no contact, but 28 years none the less. He has been writing for as long as I've known him, and no doubt a significant amount of time longer as well. When he was 16 he had finished writing a fantasy novel, and as I was a peer with similar literary ambitions he let me read it. I don't remember much of the novel itself, but I do remember being quite jealous that he had a completed, coherent novel under his belt while I ...more
Review written for WASHYARG (Washington Young Adult Review Group).

Teen siblings Merciful and Gospel Truth’s mother has died, and it’s too cold to bury her. The winter is colder than usual, and there isn’t really anyone left in the small rural area where they live to help out. People have been disappearing more and more, and the only people left are the Widow Cally who lives across the field, and Jenny Gone, but she’s too far away to walk to in the frigid weather. There’s also the Minister, of co
2.5 stars

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Engines of the Broken World is a hard book to review. On one hand, it was undeniably readable; the pages just zipped along and I enjoyed the narrative style. On the other, the story was just... weird and the ending was somewhat unsatisfying, even though I understand why it had to be that way. This will definitely be a decisive book. I think readers will either love it or hate it, no real in between.

This book is even difficult t
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Merciful's mother has just passed away from an illness that has long been consuming her. This leaves Merciful an orphan and alone in an isolated cabin, until her brother, Gospel, shows up from his treks outside. After attempting to bury their mother fail, they store her under the table in the house. The ground is frozen solid and does not seem to be thawing any time soon. This is the basic beginning of the story. The two children are alone in a cabin that is isolated from a world that do
Krista Ivy

This book is an exercise in the study of minimalist characters. They are quite a simple people because they are the last people. The protagonist is not even aware of what a machine looks like; they live in such a simple world. The last war had rid the world of machines from what the book says.
The mother dies and yet, the girl, Merciful, hears her dead mother singing to her and hears her move. Gospel, her brother, looks over all of it, at first. The dog or ‘it’ avoids the mother. His hackles rai
This title of this book is intriguing and beautiful, and the description appealed to me. One source says it is for 6 – 8 graders and another 8 – 12 graders, so I'm not sure who the audience should be. When I requested it, I expected it to be a little more YA than it is, a bit more complex. But that's okay – I can get into my 8th grade head.

Still, I'm not crazy about this book. There is the Minister, a made thing, and children who seem especially obtuse about him and the puzzle to be solved. It r
In Mr. Vanhee's version of the world's demise, it ends with both a bang and a whimper.

Merciful and Gospel Truth are quickly becoming the last two people in the world. It is literally closing in on them and slowly killing the last few neighbors they have -- and their mother, who's been none-too-stable in the waning days. Trouble is, she won't stay dead. Neither will the Widow.
When mom and the Widow come together for a final deciding battle for the soul of the world, the children just don't seem
I think this is a pretty original plot line. I wish there could have been some more of the back story, but perhaps the author was using that "murkiness" as a device to carry along the story. Either way, it was a well-written book. Spoiler alert: the ending is NOT happy. It is, however, fitting. That ending adds to the originality of the plot, in my humble opinion. Also, you will notice something change in how it's described. You are not going crazy, and the author did not make a mistake that the ...more
E. Bard
A very creepy, unique, and unexpected story about the end of the world. In a way - a very uncomfortable and not literal way mind you - it was weirdly biblical. Not biblical in the sense of being Christian horror fiction - if such a thing exists as a genre - but biblical in the sense that it's the Apocalypse and the end is being heralded by a very creepy Minister. How the Minister appears throughout the story, the way he/it speaks and interacts with Merciful and her brother Gospel, plus the very ...more
Feels like the young adult dystopian trend channeled through Samuel Beckett. Claustrophobic and bleak, but surprisingly captivating.
This is the most up-my-alley book I've read in a long time, and I think it may become one of my favorites. Here are a few reasons I liked it so much:

The dialect, whatever it is, gives an intriguing "off" feel from the start

Vanhee captures an absurdity, strangeness, off-ness, sideways-ness, a kind of illogic that nonetheless feels true to the way the world, or at least the mind, or at least my mind, works. He shares that quality with my favorite author, Diana Wynne Jones, though Engines is about
Bobbi Weiss
Wow. Not what I expected at all, and yet it was obvious. Sort of. This is a book that will leave you thinking about it for a long time.

(Now a spoiler warning)

Very good, but just so... unexpected! A wonderful narrative voice, terrific characters, and some creepy action that's just... well, unexpected! I know I keep saying that, but this book starts out one way, and it keeps pulling you along, and you're dying to know WHY certain things are happening (as are the main characters), and the book end
Tabitha (Pabkins)
I will never be able to hear the lullaby lyrics “hush little baby, don’t say a word…” again without getting chills. Engines of the Broken World was without a doubt nothing I could have possibly expected. I was ensnared from the very first pages with this odd and twisted story of two siblings in an ever shrinking post apocalyptic world.

Merciful Truth and her brother Gospel Truth have recently lost their mother…ok maybe lost is the wrong word – she died. Unfortunately, there is a terrible storm ra
"Hush little baby don't say a word,
Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird..."

Setting:To be honest, I have no idea when this book is set, as it never says. Supposedly, it's supposed to take place in the future. But I got a 1800s English countryside vision popping in my head when I read this, so we're just going to go with that.

Coverly Love?:Surprisingly, yes! I like the vibe it gives off, and the fingers and eyes peeking from the cracks of the staircase add a nice amount of creep to it.

Ungrateful Children

The winter is getting colder and 12 year-old Merciful Truth's mama just died after a long illness. Her 15 year-old brother, Gospel, says that they can't bury her because the ground is frozen. The minister tells them it's not right to leave the dead unburied and castigates them for being ungrateful children to the mother than birthed them - but he's just a cat. But as the storm worsens and the world outside shrinks they can't possibly go dig a hole, and so they put her under th
E. Anderson
Let me start by saying: This is one of the spookiest books I've read in quite a while. There's so much going on in this story, and it's pretty freaking bizarre, so I'm going to give you a list of the six most awesome freaky spooky things that you'll find in Jason Vanhee's ENGINES OF THE BROKEN WORLD:

1. Dead mom. No, wait. Dead mom's body hanging out under the kitchen table, because she's too hard for the kids to move.

2. The kids -- Merciful Truth and her older brother Gospel -- can't get anyone
I thought this book sounded like a great read. Its the story of the end of the world. Merciful and her older brother Gospel are left a alone with a man made 'thing' called the Minister after their mother dies. Quickly readers are informed that all of the known world has already disappeared. The book's blurb leads you to believe that maybe their mother isn't fully dead...

Yes, all that intro was pretty thrilling and for a brief while I was very engrossed and I did end up reading the book in a coup
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'm not entirely sure why I decided to give this a read as I'm normally someone who assiduously avoids horror, being quite the scaredy cat. But I must have seen something intriguing to get it on my review calendar.

The book was very hard to get into and I found the plot a bit difficult to follow. Merciful and her brother Gospel Truth have just seen their mother die. As the world ends, they say goodbye to their two remaining
Gospel and Merciful Truth live in a cabin in the woods with their mother, who has just died. Their only neighbors are Widow Cally and Jenny Gone and the Minister, a made thing who preaches the word of God. They are surrounded by a closing fog that leaves nothingness in their wake. Merciful thinks her mother is up and moving even though she is dead. The minister is keeping secrets. The world is ending and strange things are happening.

I'm not sure I've ever read a book about the world ending beca
Jenna (Bookiemoji)
Read the full review at Jenna {does} Books!

A tale of absolute horror…

ENGINES OF THE BROKEN WORLD by Jason Vanhee is one of the freakiest books I have ever read. The story taps into all of the fears that humanity has possessed since the beginning of time – fears about about life, death, creation… not to mention, the things that go bump in the night. Sure to be a controversial read, I found myself enjoying this book, despite the nightmares it gave me.

I find it startling that ENGINES OF THE BROKE
Oct 30, 2013 Tasha rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: teen
Merciful’s mother has finally died. After years of growing more and more confused and cruel, she died as the weather grew colder and colder. Merciful and her brother Gospel had wanted to bury her properly but the bitter weather had worsened and prevented them from digging a hole. The snow came too, lashing the windows and keeping them from even venturing out to the barn to check on the animals. So they put their mother under the table and went to bed. The Minister, in an animal form, said prayer ...more
Jessica at Book Sake
The synopsis of this one had me as it sounded completely different from anything I’ve read. And that was where the book excelled. It was an original story and continued on that path. Right off the bat I was confused at what The Minister was and that was mostly because the children were also confused at what The Minister was, so there was no helpful explanation to be had.

Then the story started to drag on and on, which can happen when most of a story takes place inside one setting. Yes, they left
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Jason Vanhee was born and raised in Seattle, Washington and still calls it home. He writes in several genres and styles, including contemporary fiction, historical fiction, young adult, fantasy and horror. He once drank at every bar in the city of Seattle in a year in order to get out more often. He has worked around the world on Semester at Sea, which still amazes him. He once appeared in a movie ...more
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