"The Breadwinner: Haven" Book Review
Written by Stevie Kopas
2014, 169 pages, Fiction
Released on February 14th, 2014
The homonym* and grammar errors continue in The Breadwinner: Haven, the second of Stevie Kopas' Breadwinner trilogy, but there are new characters that are fun. While the women are still irritating stereotypes, there are some enjoyable surprises for the reader. (*One waives a fee, the zombie waves goodbye.)
Veronica, Ben, Juliette, Andrew, and Clyde – in his dramatic glory – have escaped Paradise Bay and found their way to the exclusive condo resort of Emerald City. I feel like there should be a Wizard of Oz reference here; the teenage girl (Veronica) with the cowardly lion (Andrew), the scarecrow (Clyde), tin man (Ben), and a tree that throws apples (Juliette). Psych, she's a witch. The wizard in this case would be Gary, a Brit who has been in the US long enough to not use British vernacular or phrasing, who gets the team of survivors to his isolated building conveniently stashed with weapons of vague origin. After helping Gary to clear the condo building, in which Clyde's yell is described as feminine and I remembered the poor man is but a stereotype, they decide it's time to make a food run and head off to Target.
Now we jump back in time to meet Michelle and Lulu; it’s about two weeks prior, when the outbreak is fresh. Two women this time, both awful. Lulu is a crying mess on the couch after watching her neighbor lose the battle of saving her baby from zombies (I guess I’ll offer a bit of sympathy here); Lulu’s cousin Zach is trying comfort her and avoid roommate Michelle after an awkward drunken hookup. Michelle loves nothing but herself and occasionally shows affection for Lulu, but I can't figure out why. Michelle is mean and cold, which can be fun but, like Samson, without love for someone else, we can't love you. So when she has to off Zach, we don't care about either of them. Lulu is frankly annoying by this point.
Michelle figures out that their fortified shopping plaza is the best place to hide out. In a lucky break, two doctors are also hiding out there along with their favorite plaza security guard. Shockingly, the Target outing goes wrong and the Wizard of Oz team meets Michelle's group and they decide to team up and go back to Emerald City. Yay, more characters.
Here's where the intriguing bit starts. Michelle loses her f*cking mind. Clearly a woman who did not get enough attention as a child, she wants to be desired by everyone and demands things go her way. When that doesn’t happen, she shoots her denier in the face. Didn't see that coming. Again, a terrible female archetype, but fun. When Michelle doesn't get the part of Ben’s anatomy she particularly likes (and why he's not interested is another shocking twist), she starts to wonder what would happen if she unlocked the condo doors and let all the zombies just come in. I feel this may be foreshadowing. If it's not, I'll be pleased.
As with the first novel, this book has too many problems. Brands are left uncapitalized, the waive/wave problem happens three times, and three times it is difficult to discern who was speaking. Michelle is probably the worst human you'll ever meet and it's a shame that, while I usually love the villain to be a woman, after the parade of detestable women herein I was hoping for one good female role. Lulu's a bimbo. Catherine is human at least, albeit woefully unexplored. There is an improvement over the first in that Kopas surprises the reader with unexpected twists, especially in the very last pages of this novel. She's truly willing to pushing the envelope with her female characters in this installation, and while I don't agree with all the choices, they are growing in complexity which I appreciate.
After the angering and frustrating first Breadwinner, with the slight improvements to The Breadwinner: Haven, I find myself curious to see how the writer plans to wrap up this Floridian dystopia. Much work and a great deal of research was still needed for this to be a truly epic zombie tome, but it is better than the first.