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Split City #1

The Breaking Light

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In a stratified society where contact with the sun is a luxury reserved for the elite, those kept prisoner in the darkness will do anything to find the light. Arden—beautiful, street-smart, and cynical—is one of the citizens of the lowest Level, known as Undercity, of an off-world colony. A blackout band traps Arden in her district, but as sister to the leader of the most powerful gang in Undercity, she has access to Above. There she meets Dade, one of the few lucky enough to be born into the sun-kissed families who reside in the Towers soaring above the rest of the city. But life isn’t perfect in the sky. Dade, desperate to escape his upcoming arranged marriage, has a secret of his own, and he’s willing to risk everything for it. An unlikely romance develops between the two teens—but their love faces opposition from above and below. When her gang pressures Arden to help break the grip of the elite and end Dade’s interference with their drug trade, she is forced to make a deadly choice between love and family loyalty. But will the brewing class war destroy the world around them first?

256 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 1, 2017

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About the author

Heather Hansen

2 books90 followers
Heather Hansen was born in California, the oldest of five children. She always knew she wanted to be a writer, and she wrote her first book, a murder mystery in the style of Agatha Christie, in seventh grade. Unfortunately, she never could figure out who the murderer was, so the book went on for hundreds of pages, introducing new characters only to kill them off in the most gruesome ways her twelve-year-old imagination could invent. Her teacher was equally impressed and horrified.

Heather has a degree in English from California State University Fullerton and has traveled the world with her husband, a retired Marine. Her favorite place they’ve lived is Okinawa, Japan, where she had her choice of ramen, Japanese curry, and sushi every day. Along with their two teens and three dogs, they now live in Las Vegas, where she spends her time writing all day and eating Nutella with a spoon.

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5 stars
430 (17%)
4 stars
740 (29%)
3 stars
789 (31%)
2 stars
353 (14%)
1 star
157 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 244 reviews
Profile Image for Noah Nichols.
Author 3 books112 followers
January 17, 2018
What do I type about The Breaking Light? Well, this reversal of a retooling needed a little more sci-fi and a lot less cry-fi! Yes; that's my line.

Author Heather Hansen's book is not that bad in terms of pace and plotting...hence the rating of three, but I had to wonder one thing while reading. If Romeo & Juliet wasn't written, would this fic exist?

Also, here's a quick quibble. In the Acknowledgments section, Hansen goes on (and on) to thank a lot of people who helped along the way when it came to cleansing/editing the MS—which is totally fine—but there were several botches that reared their ugly, misshapen heads. Here is just one example:

Each brush of passengers’ bodies against hers as they hurried on their way made her jump.

Huh? That grammatically plagued passage stood out instantly as being wonky.

So, how Hansen's mom (who is her "toughest critic") and her esteemed editor let that pass—among others that'll go untyped—boggles the human mind.

BUT overall...the breezy book's good. Kinda.

Sorry, Heather. Don't unfriend me!
5 reviews3 followers
March 15, 2017
:( spoilers

Kindle First letdown. This book would have been greatly improved with an ending involving the untimely deaths of the two main characters who are in love with each other for absolutely no reason at all. Even murdering family members doesn't come between them! But it does open with the supposed badass female being unable to think about anything other than how hot the man cutting her throat is, so I guess that's fine. Written like Fifty Shades (which I couldn't even get through), but without the awful, laughable porn. Disappointed that this was my free pick for the month. Others have pleasantly surprised me. Not this.
Profile Image for Sydnie Macelroy.
98 reviews6 followers
March 19, 2017
Sad fact: If you are a female science fiction writer, you have to try (at least) twice as hard, because the reader will see your name on the cover and think, "oh great, a romance novel in space." So I make a point of reading as many female authors as I can. Us girls gotta stick together, right? I didn't get far into this book before realizing, "oh hell, this is a romance novel in space."

But that's not even the worst part of it. If it was a good space romance, I'd be cool with that. It's not. It opens with the female protagonist held at knife-point by her future love interest. She's tough as nails, she has no fear, she's... waxing poetic about his delicious lips? That is a problem. That is perpetuating some of the very worst myths of rape culture.

Then they go on to instantly and blindly trust each other? For absolutely no reason, based on nothing but having the hots for each other?

Oh yeah, and the world-building is nonsensical and lazy, too.
Profile Image for Maria.
10 reviews
March 8, 2017
I got this book from Amazon as a free early release ebook for Kindle, because I thought the plot sounded interesting. I actually did not realize when I started it that it was a YA book; I suppose one benefit to reading on a Kindle is to not judge a book by its cover.

The story grabbed me immediately, and I often found the central theme/plot very reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet without it being a blatant echo of Shakespeare. I also loved the way that the setting is another world but one that may or may not be tied to Earth, making it a fantasy story that is still relatable.

All in all, I found "The Breaking Light" to be a very enjoyable read, and I look forward to future books in the series.
Profile Image for Dee Arr.
734 reviews89 followers
March 1, 2017
Perhaps I didn’t read enough between the lines of the book’s description. I was caught by the Science Fiction designation and the editor’s mention of one of the main characters being a wealthy socialite. It appears I should have paid more attention to the book’s description, although I only had “two teens” buried in the last paragraph to give any hint that this book is more of a YA than anything else.

The book barely fits in the science fiction genre. The author has created a world in the future, one that started as a mining planet and eventually degenerated in a class structure, where the upper class lives in the higher levels (and exposed to the life-sustaining rays of the sun) while other live in the Levels or in the original mines (the Undercity). Other than hovercars and phase guns, the rest of the book is pure YA.

The romance that blossoms appears forced, enveloping Arden and Dade in a matter of minutes (undoubtedly spurred by the knife tussle that goes on between the pair). After a few chance meetings between them that probably totaled all of 30 minutes or less, Arden professes her love for Dade. The two of them, of course, belong to totally different worlds, she being a denizen of the Undercity and he the wealthy socialite who lives with the upper class. Because of the short periods of time together, it is difficult to feel any sort of tension (let alone any worry about the characters’ Romeo and Juliet relationship), and thus the story tends to flatten out a bit.

The science is a bit iffy. The phase guns can kill, and vaporize inanimate objects well enough. Other times the damage done to humans is more like a bullet hole. The mines were originally covered by a thick glass (so sun could reach the miners? It was never fully explained) which now functions as an opaque walkway for the residents of the Levels. It all becomes unbelievable that a city (and a planet of cities) would be erected in this manner.

As far as the writing, the author does have talent. Sentence structure, description, and most of the action progresses in a logical manner. Apart from the instant undying love, the characters have some depth to them and it their motivations are understandable. Ms. Hansen has also written a book that made it all the way from beginning to end without any offensive language or explicit sex scenes.

As a YA novel, there are probably thousands of readers who will enjoy this novel. As I said, it is well written and although it is Book One in a series, there are enough strings tied together at the end that it does not qualify to be labeled a cliffhanger. For science fiction fans expecting something different, this book may be letdown. As far as grading it star-wise, I felt to be fair I had to examine it a second time under the light of the YA genre (as written by the author in her Acknowledgment section when she thanked her children with “It’s so much easier to write YA fiction with you in my corner”). So sci-fi fans, be warned. YA fans, you will probably like this book…as a YA book, four stars.

~This was a Kindle First choice.
Profile Image for Misty.
300 reviews67 followers
April 22, 2017
Started well then turned into a pile of crap. Doesn't say that it's a Romeo and Juliet retelling in the description but it should since that's what it is, complete with terrible instalove and two idiots that want to literally die for each other after barely meeting.
Profile Image for Lissa.
86 reviews7 followers
April 2, 2017
My Kindle First pick for March. An inane dystopia with two leads who fall in love on the first page for no conceivable reason at all. Nothing will stand in the way of their love - certainly not the fact that their families are murdering each other or that they have spoken maybe ten words. The world building was terrible and the writing dull. I'm usually pleasantly surprised by my Kindle First choices but not this time.
Profile Image for EP.
302 reviews15 followers
July 23, 2017
Uggg. Terrible.

This was at 33% and exactly when I quit.

“What is it that you do want, Dade? I’ve been trying to figure that out since I met you.” “I want you,” he said. Her heart started beating erratically. The air left her chest. Still, she denied it. “You’ve only just met me.”

Side note: he just met her that day and had spent a total of approximately 10 minutes together.
Profile Image for Laura.
378 reviews14 followers
June 19, 2017

2.5 stars

This would have been better if not for the insta-love. I did enjoy the action and thought it was fairly well written but I didn't feel the sparks between the main characters at all and I didn't think they had enough time spent together to actually develop feelings for one another.

I also thought there was a significant lack of details regarding the way the citizens actually lived, although I did enjoy the desperate gritty feel to the under levels.
Profile Image for Mary.
22 reviews3 followers
April 11, 2017
I'm not the most articulate reviewer however I am pretty well versed in YA and Dystopia.

I absolutely adore the world the author is building and the role reversal of Romeo + Juliet, the depth of the characters and the intricate world she's created is fascinating.

I feel for a first book, this is a really great stepping stone into a fascinating world. I'm intrigued and interested to see where the characters go from here.

I've seen quite a few reviews of disappointment as it's being labeled as Sci Fi and not YA. It's definitely both from the world created to the romantic pull between both main characters.

My only hope is the next book gives us more of the world and helps continue to build the emotional connection between the characters.
Profile Image for Richard.
16 reviews
July 7, 2017
Weak on science... Not science fiction

This is a spin off of Romeo and Juliet with more teen angst and whining.

If you want science fiction this story is not for you. Set on another planet the author could not even bother to name. This is a dystopian teen pile of vomit where people have enough technology for plasma weapons but not enough to make a UV light to prevent most from dying of some strange mix of vitamin d or c deficiency. Spend ten minutes on the net looking at vitamins and the diseases associated with them and you will have done more research than the author.
Profile Image for Andrea.
201 reviews30 followers
May 31, 2017
This is a very low 2 for me. The waxing poetic crap at the beginning of the book really set this up for failure.

First off: insta-love. Seriously? Get a grip. This book has an interesting plot idea and if that was more explored the outcome would have been better. Instead we are constantly given the "I shouldn't be thinking about him but I am going to anyway" or "This can never work but what if it can." Arden is supposed to be this kick-ass heroine but instead we are given a damsel who is simply distressed about the guy she just met. And then you have Dade who apparently has great lips and blah blah blah. That's about as much as I got on his description, I gave up on him after that.

Then you have the action sequences which could have been a sort of saving grace and the reason I stuck it out. Some were eh but

And don't get me started on Clarissa, Niall, or any other supporting characters. I don't know if we are meant to like Clarissa because she's supposed to be helpful but my goodness she was such an obnoxious pain. The only good character to me was Collin and even he wasn't explored nearly enough. It was all about the will she won't she with Arden and Dade.

Ultimately, this book was a bad remake of Romeo & Juliet in space (and I hate Romeo & Juliet). Maybe if the plot was focused on more than the love that sprung literally out of nowhere this book could have been better but it was not.
Profile Image for Deanna Kaech.
1 review2 followers
April 11, 2017
The author builds on the classic Romeo and Juliet, but with a new and modern twist. Yes, there is teenage love angst and all that encompasses it (quite frankly if there wasn't, then there wouldn't be that classical R+J thing going on) but there is far more action and political overtones than expected.

The plot is well thought out and engaging. It certainly cannot be overlooked that Arden is a strong female lead who isn't left doe-eyed with a loss of brain activity upon first encountering Dade. She has common sense and a strong spirit and uses them both unapologetically. Honestly, there is a need for more heroines like Arden: strong-willed, smart, and independent.

Overall, The Breaking Light is a nice distraction from the normal daily grind. And if you have an adolescent living somewhere in your house, throw it their way when you're done. Good discussions can come from this gem.
Profile Image for Alexia Chantel.
Author 1 book39 followers
January 24, 2019
A sci-fi Romeo and Juliet. The writing was clean and the pacing and world building were good.

The beginning set an odd tone, our heroine has a knife to her throat but she's high-ranking-seedy-gang and knows she can take care of herself, but instead of concentrating on her attackers weak points or imagining the various ways to break his hold and take his knife she's waxing poetic about his lips? If you pretend this first introduction happened a different way and roll with the Romeo and Juliet vibe then it's a good read.
Profile Image for Zuzana899.
497 reviews15 followers
January 14, 2018
4,5 stars

It was action packed, with a bit of romance, on another planet .... just my thing. I liked it. And I even didn’t hate the insta-love :D
Profile Image for Christina A.
22 reviews1 follower
March 30, 2017
I enjoyed the world building, found it interesting and plausible far out in the future (despite not taking place on Earth).

However, I think the "romance" could have been played down a bit in the book. It took over too much of the storyline, wasn't really that believable to me, and made me not care about the characters.
I felt like the story was more just the romance and nothing else, which is a shame because there was more to explore.
Profile Image for Cathie Stumpenhaus.
285 reviews1 follower
March 18, 2017
A young adult book; which felt bogged down in places with youthful romantic angst. A little more action and a little less ooey-gooey, please. However, I persevered and when I reached the end, found I had enjoyed the book as a whole. About 3/4 of the way through, I realized I was reading a SF version of the Capulets and the Montagues.
600 reviews8 followers
March 2, 2017

In fairness to the book, I didn't realize it was a YA novel until it was already on my Kindle. But that being said, I think our young adults deserve some compelling reads too. Not just the same dystopian, teenagers-in-love, us-against-the-world crap. (I'm not solid with hyphens so just ignore any overuse)

It's been a few decades since I read Romeo and Juliet, although I did read a text-message-based, LOLcats version online a few years back. But let me see if I can list off some of the similarities: teenagers falling in love at first sight, those teenagers belonging to rival families, secret meetings, cousins killed, using a priest as a go-between, and dead but not dead. There's probably more but, you know, it's been a while.

I'm not saying that this story can't be told again, but if you try, you have to understand your book will be compared to a classic that we were all forced to read in 9th grade. If you offer nothing new to the narrative other than setting it in the future, you've wasted my time. I already know what is going to happen. And setting this book up as the first of a series just confirms that. You can't kill off your main characters, can you?

I'm sorry if you were planning on reading it and I inadvertently spoiled it for you. But really, Shakespeare did that and I was just pointing it out. :)

Skip it!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Hollie.
301 reviews
April 6, 2018
Twilight again

I wanted to like it. The romance dragged everything down. The premise was super awesome, a planet where only the rich could get sunlight and vitamins for it but then teenage romance was cringe worthy. Wouldn't recommend. Won't read the second.
Profile Image for Morrisa.
146 reviews20 followers
June 5, 2017
I was sent this book in the mail by the publisher to review, so thank you to Skyscape! I was surprised to get this as I wasn’t expecting it, but I had seen the cover floating around twitter so I was excited to read.

The Breaking Light is a gender-swapped futuristic take on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Upon going into the novel, I had no idea it was a retelling, so I was super confused as to why the characters claimed to have some sort of “attachment” so soon. But as the story went on, the more I picked up on the connections. Once I had established that, I was a little more okay with the insta-love, but in my opinion it just annoyed me. If you’ve read other reviews by me, you probably know how much I hate it.

However, the world building and the plot-line to this story was what made me enjoy the book. Despite it being a retelling, I was still surprised by events and the twist to the story made it all the more enjoyable. Plus, having it being placed in a futuristic society was extremely interesting. Humans migrated to another planet, similar to earth. However, only the rich are allowed to be exposed to the sun, and the poor live underground. They struggle with a vitamin-d deficiency and rely on either a drug or vitamin d shot to keep themselves healthy. So a lot of the plot revolved around that, and the man male character, our “Juliet” was a Robin Hood of sorts, taking from the rich and giving to the poor.

This side plot tossed in with the Romeo & Juliet story line really grabbed my focus and what was keeping me reading until the end of the book. It was just the instant connection between the characters and how that forced the story along that drew me back from a four or five star rating.

This was the first Romeo & Juliet retelling I’ve ever read and the gender-swapped part to it I thought was really fun. If you’re looking for a quick, action romancy-story. Check this out. It went on sale on April 1st, and you can get it on Amazon! Thank you again to the publishers, Skyscape, for sending this out to me. I look forward to the sequel!
Profile Image for Jack Hansen.
492 reviews37 followers
December 19, 2017
The Breaking Light (Split City #1) is a young adult science fiction fantasy not unlike many young adult science fictions written today, a dystopia. The genre is very popular and many of the stories are similar.

This reader is very pleased to say that Heather Hansen develops a world that is quite different than the dystopia books which are made into movies,Hunger Games and Divergent. The plot still involves the oppressed rebelling against the affluent with a running romance throughout.

Hansen masterfully creates a city within this flailing society that consists of Undercity, where the poor and dying eke out an existence until they succumb to a lack of Vitamin D as a result of deficient sunlight. There are several levels above Undercity that are slightly more fortunate before reaching the summit where there is full sun. The privileged few families who control the wealth live here.

With such disparity of wealth and justice, it is essential to restrict the lower level populations to their designated sections. To quell uprisings, the rich and tanned distribute a drug known as Shine to placate the natural anger and frustrations of the seemingly powerless. Thus, the stage is set for the noble male protagonist to meet the savvy female survivor, who just so happens to be second in command of the most agitating resistance group in the city.

This book holds the reader's attention and thoroughly entertains. The story is one for the movies if anyone is so inclined to undertake the endeavor.
13 reviews
March 18, 2017
Could not stop reading it.

It caught me from the first page. I loved the characters and the universe in which they lived. Looking forward to the next installment.
Profile Image for Leila.
194 reviews1 follower
March 11, 2017
A nice surprise

After falling into a lull of good or even decent stories to read, I tripped into this well written book. The first chapter had me and I became more vested as I read. Well developed characters paired with an interesting world let me devour this book in two days. Dynamic and action packed, I'd recommend this book to anyone looking for a great read. The only disappointment? Cliffhanger at the end. Excited to read the next one.
2 reviews
March 4, 2017
Intriguing Story

I liked the story b because it held your interest and I t told the story without vulgarity . And who doesn't like a good love story . I congratulate any author who can make her point without using vulgarity .
12 reviews
March 20, 2017
Loved it!!

This book is a great spin of Romeo and Juliet. I didn't want to put this book down. Great characters and plenty of action to keep you glued to the page. Really really hoping there is another book to continue the story!
Profile Image for Flavia.
317 reviews34 followers
December 11, 2017
Going into this book, I knew that I was intrigued by the whole star-crossed lovers theme that the synopsis promised, and I went in mainly looking forward to that. I didn’t really have expectations regarding the world. But it turns out that I liked the idea of Hansen’s sci-fi setting quite a bit! It’s been a while since I read a book that’s set on a different planet, so that was refreshing for me, and the whole layer of gasses keeping the sunshine from reaching the planet’s actual surface idea was neat too. I’d heard of sunshine themed sci-fi books like this before, but this was the first time I’d come across the issue of sun for the rich, and no sun for the poor being portrayed quite in this way.

A lot of thought also went into the different levels of the city in which the book is set, with the poorest at the bottom, and the richest in the high rise buildings that emerge out of the gasses that keep the light from touching the ground, and make it possible for the wealthy inhabitants of the planet to be exposed to sunlight. There are gangs, there are politics, drugs, and disease all tied to this specific planet, and their issue regarding sunlight. The author definitely put some time into developing this world, and I really appreciated that.

The characters, on the other hand, I feel needed a little bit more fleshing-out. I didn’t really connect with Arden, or Dade, although I really wanted to. This was not because I found them dislike-able, but rather because they just seemed incomplete. They are well on their way to becoming quite interesting characters, but I found that they weren’t just there yet, and this made itself evident to me when I did not click with them, and also due to their decision-making, and dialogue with each other, and other characters (although mainly with each other). Some of the decisions that they made, or thoughts that they had, almost felt a little contradictory, or like they didn’t fit with the type of character they were assigned to. As for the dialogue…it ties in with my next point.

As I mentioned, the star-crossed lovers romance plot was the main draw for me, and don’t get me wrong, Arden and Dade are most certainly star-crossed! I enjoyed how Dade and Arden interacted, the societies, and levels of the city, etc. that they each came from, and how that affected their interaction. There was definitely a lot of chemistry between the two lovers as well, which was great! I know that it can be difficult to portray this, and that it’s also difficult to get that kind of chemistry out of two characters that one has decided to write and pair up together. My concern was more for the “love” aspect, rather than the “lust” aspect of the romantic plot. One can fall in lust at first sight, and it’s believable that this can happen, because it’s all based on physical appearance, and pheremones. When it comes to love, however, I tend to feel that more time is necessary. The physical part of love is important, of course, but the feeling of love is also tied to personality, and just the essence of another person.

I did not feel as if Dade and Arden knew each other long enough for such feelings to be believable, which made their actions and dialogue feel a little awkward, or just out of place, for me. This is not a major issue, of course, since the solution would simply be that more time pass from point A (their first meeting) to point B (the end of the book). And like I said, I did otherwise enjoy reading this book. I will be reading the sequel (The Stolen Sky, Dec 5, 2017) for sure, and recommend The Breaking Light to those who enjoy star-crossed lover plots, and science fiction YA!
Profile Image for Teenreadsdotcom.
696 reviews37 followers
June 8, 2017
In a world where contact with the sun is limited to the elite upper class, Arden is forced to do anything to survive. As a high-ranking member of her brother’s gang, known as Lasair, Arden is one of the few Undercity residents with access to the higher levels and the Above. Her world is divided by the rich families who live in the Towers, high above her slums, and the Levels, that get colder, sicker and poorer the deeper one descends. Born in the Undercity, the lowest level of them all, Arden would have died from lack of VitD, the drug that sustains those that will never see the sun. Instead, by joining Lasair, Arden steals VitD from the higher class and uses it to manufacture Shine, a highly-addictive drug that is sometimes the only thing keeping addicts alive.

While traveling in the Above, Arden meets Dade in a robbery gone wrong. As one of the lucky few born in the Towers, Dade is rich beyond imagine, with power that comes with being a member of the sun-kissed elite. Yet Dade is more than he seems. Desperate to help those beneath him, Dade risks everything to provide VitD for those dying in the Levels. When he learns of his arranged marriage, he is desperate to escape the bond that would end his freedom to explore the life below.

Divided by two seeming separate worlds, Arden and Dade become closer as they realize that maybe they aren't so different after all. Their romance grows despite the divide that steadily grows deeper between the classes, as a war threatens to tear apart their life as they know it.

The sun is such a constant to those that read THE BREAKING LIGHT, Hansen writes of the terrifying possibility of losing something so vital to our lives. Combining a unique world with the familiar rift between the classes, Hansen tells a story of forbidden love that is recognizable from classic literature through the ages. Despite the romance between Arden and Dade materializing a bit suddenly, it is made up for by their resilience to help the other, while still living in their own world.

Arden and Dade provide the perfect balance for each other, in more ways than their opposing social classes. Arden is street-hardened, willing to do what is necessary to survive and to keep those she loves safe. Her strength is tried and tested, but it never breaks. In comparison, Dade is compassionate for those that never got the opportunities he did, always trying to do the right thing for everyone. His love for Arden challenges everything he has ever known, and he is doing anything to try and keep up.

Hansen tells a story of love and sacrifice in a compelling way that immerses any reader. Every fight is written action-packed, and with gripping detail that spares nothing for the imagination. Dade and Arden want nothing more than the other, but between her gang and his ruthless family, all they can hope for is to come out of this war alive.

Reviewed by Caitlyn K., Teen Board Member
Displaying 1 - 30 of 244 reviews

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