Nancy O'Toole's Reviews > Made to Be Broken

Made to Be Broken by Kelley Armstrong
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's review
Aug 13, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: mystery
Read in December, 2009

Nadia Stafford spends most of her time working as a nature lodge owner in Canada, but twice a year she moonlights as a hitwoman, taking down gang members for the Tomassinis. She manages to keep both parts of her life nice and separate until one of her employees, a teenage mother from a bad family, goes missing. After looking at the facts, Nadia knows that Sammi has been kidnapped, but the local police, giving the girl's background, refuse to take it seriously. Nadia, with the help of her mentor Jack, begin to investigate the kidnapping, only to find that it goes far beyond one missing girl. As Nadia goes deeper and deeper, her two separate lives become more intertwined with this very personal case.

In 2007 Kelley Armstrong broke her string of paranormal books by releasing a thriller called Exit Strategy, which starred a hitwoman named Nadia Stafford. The plot suffered a bit from unoriginality, but the book itself was an enjoyable read due to it's likeable characters, and fast-paced writing. Made to be Broken, the second Nadia book, possesses the same strengths of Exit Strategy, but improves on it's predecessor by presenting us with a more worthwhile plot. Nadia is a fantastic lead. Armstrong really has a talent for writing tough women. So many other writers fall into the habit of either writing overpowered superwoman who have to constantly show up the other characters, or “tough chicks” that are filled with snarky one liners but need other people (usually men) to save them all of the time. Nadia on the other hand is more realistic. She's damn good at what she does, but she's not perfect. Also, due to a tragedy from adolescence, she has some powerful ghosts to deal with. This makes her an interesting character to read about.

One thing I like about Made to be Broken was how much more personal it felt. In Exit Strategy we knew Nadia was a nature lodge owner, but we didn't get to see too much of her day job. Here we get to watch as she juggles customers between tracking down evidence. I really enjoyed the scenes where we watch as she deals with frustrating customers. I also liked the romantic subplots woven through out the novel. Made to be Broken is far from a love story, and romance plays a small role. Still, it was interesting to watch Nadia dwell over her confusing feelings over two men. Made to be Broken is not the last Nadia Stafford book, although according to Armstrong, it may be a little while before we see the next one (after all, she is currently writing two other series, both which are a lot more popular than Nadia's books). When the time is right, I look forward to another Nadia book. By the time Made to be Broken ends, the mystery is solved, but there are a few unanswered questions left dangling. I'd love to see what decisions Nadia makes, and where that brings her in future books.

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