Book Review: Broken Mirror (Resonant Earth Book 1) by Cody Sisco

Victor has Mirror Resonance Syndrome but spent his whole life since the diagnosis clinging to the hope of a cure... until his Granfa Jeff closed down Oak Knoll Hospital and died a few months later. Victor is sure that his Granfa was murdered, even though everyone dismisses it as one of his delusions, and the more he looks into things, the more he realizes things are not right with his Granfa's death or with the way MRS is being treated, so he sets out to find the truth.

Book Review: Broken Mirror (Resonant Earth Book 1) by Cody Sisco | reading, books, book reviews, science fiction, cyberpunk
Title: Broken Mirror
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 472
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*

I’m new to the cyberpunk genre, but I’ve been wanting to give it more of a try, and this one sounded good. Unfortunately, although the book was well-written, I struggled to really get into it.

So, this book was a cyberpunk/alternate history mash-up set in the early 90s in a different version of the U.S. with a kind of bleak feel. That was pretty neat, but, because the world was so different, there was A LOT of description of settings, science and technology, and the alternate world (history, backstory, politics, businesses, religion, geography, etc.). Also, every chapter started with a statement of some sort, like a press statement, an excerpt from a magazine article, something from Victor’s psychiatrist, or something else from the world of the book. On the one hand, I admired all the depth and detail because it’s clear this was a well thought-out world and story. But on the other hand, I’m someone who almost never skims, and I skimmed over most that that stuff. The good news though is that, even though I felt like the descriptions and history bogged down the story some, you don’t need to understand all those details in order to still understand the story and can skim like I did if you want to.

I also felt that the book was rather slow-paced, especially in the beginning. The flashbacks didn’t help with that, but thankfully those eventually stopped.

Something I’m kind of torn about is the characters. They were complex, but most of them weren’t particularly likeable. Elena was a judgmental jerk; she thought of Victor as a second-class citizen because of his mental illness (that’s how they were treated by society, and that’s not her fault, but she herself also thought that at one point), “watching him struggle made her feel more alive,” she referred to him as “insane” at one point, she lied to him, and she blamed him for the fact that she got addicted to stims (a drug) and then blamed him when she got addicted again because “living with a person with MRS should be classified as a medical condition meriting the strongest prescription available.” Tosh was a creepy pervert. Ozie was manipulative and secretive. Victor’s family just dismissed him because of his mental illness and wouldn’t listen to him even when he had proof of things. Granfa Jeff, even in death, managed to be cryptic even though it seems that just telling people things would’ve saved a whole lot of trouble. Even people on the street and in public places were jerks. I think Chico may have been my favorite character despite the fact that he had like three lines, all of which were said while he was bleeding out from a knife wound.

Then again, I shouldn’t be complaining since I often feel characters in books are too nice and perfect, and these were just legitimately flawed, like real people (although thankfully I don’t know any real people like Tosh). And Victor (the main character and therefore the most important one) was a good character because I could sympathize with him and even relate in some ways, so he was likeable in that way even though he was flawed.

Last but not least, another good thing about the book was that there was a lot of focus on mental illness. Victor’s illness was a fictional one, it seemed kind of like a cross between synesthesia and schizophrenia with a touch of empath ability, so you won’t learn about actual mental illness from reading this, but the reactions and stigma toward his illness and the way he was treated because of it felt realistic.

So all in all, this was maybe not quite for me, but it had a very in-depth, thought-out alternate world and realistic, legitimately flawed characters, and I can see other readers who like both these things being able to sink into the book!


Book Blurb

Someone killed Granfa Jefferson. Victor is sure of it. But he’s the only one.

Diagnosed with mirror resonance syndrome and shunned by Semiautonomous California society, Victor suffers from “blank outs,” hallucinations, and vivid nightmares. He violently overreacts to even minor confrontations. Victor’s grandfather devoted his life to researching and curing Broken Mirrors, but now that he’s gone, Victor must walk a narrow path between sanity and reclassification–a fate that all but guarantees he’ll lose his freedom.

Victor is determined to uncover the truth about his grandfather’s death and grows increasingly suspicious of the medicine he must take to help manage his “symptoms.” As he tries to sort his allies from his enemies, a conspiracy with global implications emerges. Can he trust his Aunt Circe, the only person in his family who’s even somewhat sympathetic to his plight? His former classmate-turned-brainhacker Ozie, who wields information as damaging as any weapon and who seems intent on luring Victor away from his home? What about his old friend Elena, who reappears in his life abruptly, claiming to have miraculously overcome a devastating addiction?

With its self-driving cars, global firearms ban, and a cure for cancer, the world of Broken Mirror may sound utopic, but history has taken a few wrong turns. The American Union is a weak and fractious alliance of nations in decline. Europe, a superpower, manipulates its citizens through technology. And Asia is reeling from decades of war. Amid shifting geopolitical sands, Broken Mirrors like Victor find themselves at a crossroads: evolve or go extinct.

Broken Mirror is the first novel in a sci-fi detective saga tailor-made for fans of Isaac Asimov, Haruki Murakami, and Neal Stephenson.

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  1. suzanna

    This is a brilliant review. I wonder if the author had similar descriptions of the characters whilst writing the book?
    I can’t imagine how the storyline must go if your fav character had so few words and then bled out. It makes me want to read the book just to know how that works. Although I am a terrible skim reader, especially with slow books, so I’d have to watch I didn’t miss those important three lines.
    Well done on a great summary.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol I’m glad you enjoyed it. Honestly I feel like the author probably did have similar descriptions since I think the characters were purposely flawed and hard to like. But good news, Chico survived! He still only had like three lines, but he was endearing in those three lines, haha. Thanks :-)

  2. Greg

    I need more cyberpunk so a premise like this gets my attention, at least initially. The problem with cyberpunk for me is it doesn’t always hold up, or else I’m just really picky. Actually I think that’s it. But anyway this one sounds problematic character- wise. I think sometimes a cyberpunk or SF noir tries to have the characters be so edgy that it’s hard to find ones you can like? I don’t know. lol. Still the well thought out world might appeal to me. I’ll keep this one in mind… good cyberpunk is hard to find.

    “bleeding out from a knife wound”… nice. :)

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, that’s why it got my attention too. This is only my second cyberpunk though, so I’m still willing to give the genre some more chances. I don’t think the characters were poorly written though. I never got the feel that the author was trying to make them too edgy really, except maybe Ozie who was a bit over the top, they just weren’t particularly likeable. Victor was at least one I could sympathize with though.

  3. Bookworm Brandee

    I think this is another one I can skip, Kristen. I hadn’t even heard of cyberpunk but I’ve yet to get into steampunk and I like the Victorian era. LOL The 90’s were good to me but I’m not sure I’d want to relive them this way. ;) It does seem as though this is well written though and I can get past not liking characters…although I’d hope to eventually like them or else why do I care? But flawed characters are realistic, so… Okay, so I’m making it sound like I’m torn but even though I think this sounds interesting, I still think I’ll pass. Kudos for kinda stepping outside your box though. :D

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, not sure this would be for you. I’ve never been able to get into steampunk so I’ve pretty much stopped trying, but I’m definitely willing to give cyberpunk some more tries. This book wasn’t bad, it just didn’t really click with me. But I was a 90s baby, so I wouldn’t mind reliving them a bit, there was some good stuff back then :-P

  4. Olivia Roach

    Eee, again it sounds like this one had a bit too much world building. I do love this genre, although I haven’t read too much of it (I don’t think ther is that much of it out there, actually!) But it was a shame that this one wasn’t as well written as you wanted, and some details given were completely unnecessary. It does sound like the author has done their research though!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, I don’t need quite this much world building. I’d still like to try more in the genre though! And this certainly wasn’t a bad book, just too detailed with the world and not quite for me I think.