Author: Tatiana Vila
First Published: October, 2011
ISBN: 1466426217 (ISBN13: 9781366426214)
Dafne is content with her reputation as the Ice Queen, and most people in the town of Berryford have learned to keep their distance. The unfortunate exception is her twin sister Buffy’s infuriating boyfriend, Ian, who insists on pushing Dafne’s temper to its limits. Even with this irritation, her life is continuing in a comfortably predictable pattern, until she starts noticing many of her fellow high school students developing a glassy-eyed stare. When scores of people start dropping into comas with no discernable cause, Dafne feels in her gut these events are somehow connected to the students’ strange behavior and that something more than a freak outbreak is to blame. After Buffy succumbs to the coma, Dafne must battle her own demons and force herself into an uneasy truce with Ian so they can work together to save her sister. Faced with compromising and guilt-ridden situations, Dafne must embrace the unexplainable and open her mind to the paranormal in a race against time to save one of the few people she actually cares about – before it’s too late.
Vila’s story makes a compelling proposition – that there is a defined bond between creative works and the need for humans to use these works to journey away from our everyday lives to dream-like states of wonder. Break Away asks the reader to consider what might happen if we fervently held onto these travels away from our humdrum lives and were able to live in our imaginary fantasies – how (and indeed why) would we ever come back? I found this a fascinating proposal and particularly enjoyed Vila’s skirting the boundaries of appropriate relationships by highlighting the tension between Dafne and Ian. It is easy to see how some of these relationships would play out in real life and for the reader to see herself in Dafne – however much she might not want to.
My biggest challenge with this novel is one that I see often in self-published works – the need for a professional editing eye. I found myself distracted by the frequent grammatical errors and awkwardly worded sentences, and some of the literary gems were almost lost. The exquisite wordplay and delicious descriptions in the narrative deserve utmost care so they are not overshadowed by grammatical mistakes. Vila certainly has talent and more comprehensive editing will help her bring that talent to the forefront.
Break Away story is compelling and engaging and worth a read for any lovers of young adult fiction. I’m excited to see what Vila has to offer in the future.