3 out of 4 stars
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The Broadcast is a suspense thriller written by Liam Fialkov. The story revolves around a program shown in TXB network named Broadcast. The program telecasts controversial video visuals from the past. In its maiden episode, it shows a video clip that documents a murder that was not solved for 25 years. The show's content then takes a turn. It begins showing visuals from significant moments of human history. The source of these baffling video clips remains a point of controversy. It divides people into those who question its authenticity and those who believe in it. The telecasting of religious persecutions and genocides from the past stirs unrest amidst religious groups. The main characters of the story are those connected to the show -Walter Lindsey, the show's director, his brother Jonathan and his wife Sarah. In the subplot, we see Sarah's illicit son Michael and how he finds his way back to his biological mother. Each character has a scarred past which they must revisit, confront and forgive to heal in the present. The book traces their individual journeys while revealing the source of these mysterious clips.
The author follows multiple points of views for narration using the third person omniscient. Each chapter is named after a character and the plot moves ahead with their lives. The opening of the book is racy and it has you instantly in hooks with the solving of a murder mystery. But, as the plot progresses the book wanders a little until it picks up pace towards the end. The book felt too long and a more careful editing could have helped to maintain a gripping narration. This becomes vital especially since the author does not experiment much with his narrative techniques and at least most of the plot is predictable.
All the major characters in the book are well rounded and their conflicts are etched well. Sarah battles with repression and wounds of the past that manifests in her philandering ways taking a toll on her relationship with her husband. Jonathan and Walter, both fester guilt and blame after losing parents at an accident and are torn apart. Michael longs to know his beginnings and his natal identity. Thus, the author has taken particular care in delineating his characters and their moral conflicts.
I loved the unique plot line of the book and how the author has deftly woven the themes into it. Thematically the book deals with how we deal with our past and the choices we make. In the microcosm, every single character in the book has to make peace with his errs of the past. Living in denial or wallowing in the past can pull us down but embracing and making amends can help to make life better. At the macrocosm, through its historical footages, the same message is propagated to humanity as well. Mankind too has to learn from its mistakes for the betterment of posterity. What I detested about the book was its monotonous language. The language is never organic and fluid. It does not do justice to the characters or the setting and falls flat. This leaves the characters lifeless and restricts the reader from identifying with them despite their easily relatable problems.
I would rate the book 3 out of 4. I have to cut a point for its sloppy diction. The book also leaves out many loopholes like what the repercussions of the final broadcast were. Did it stir an unrest? Was Walter disappointed that Jonathan leaked the footage elsewhere? Did Michael ever enquire about his father Mr. Buckner whose house he had visited? The book fails to answer many of these pertinent questions that are hard to overlook. I would recommend this book to science fiction and history lovers. This book is not for religiously conservative readers who are not open to controversies and discussions. The book is free of explicit languages and scenes and is suitable for young adult readers.
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