Book Review: Malfunction by J. E. Purrazzi
Earlier this year, I was able to read Revelation, a prequel novella to the Malfunction series. Because of that, I was already somewhat familiar with two of the protagonists in Malfunction, and because I loved them so much, I was eager to read this book upon its release.
The story takes place in a bleak, dystopian/post-apocalyptic future. Earth's surface has been overrun by aliens known as Wreckers, forcing humanity to migrate underground and try to survive with limited resources. Meanwhile, Biobots created by the government fight Wreckers above ground - part of a plan to eventually restore Earth's surface to a habitable environment. It's a dark, gritty tale full of secrets and twists - one of those stories you can see playing out in your mind like a movie as you frantically turn the pages to find out what happens next. But it's the characters that really bring Malfunction to life and give it some heart.
The story is told through the points of view of its three protagonists: Menrva, Cowl, and Bastille. They each bring something unique to the story, and one of the most rewarding parts of the book is watching the relationships between them evolve. I had already fallen in love with Cowl and Bas from reading Revelation, and I grew to love both of them even more here. Cowl's point of view chapters are especially entertaining with a cynical voice and sarcastic sense of humor that are uniquely his own. Menrva also made a good addition to the group, and having her there made for some interesting conflicts between characters. There was a bit more of a romantic element than I had expected based on what I knew about the story before I started reading, but that wasn't a bad thing at all and will probably be very welcome to some readers.
There's no question here that the characters drive the plot, not the other way around. No matter what circumstances are thrown at them, they are the ones making the decisions and then dealing with the consequences of those decisions, and that constantly changes the story for better or worse. More often than not, the decisions they're faced with are 'Something Bad' and 'Something Worse,' and it's interesting to watch them figure out how to navigate the situation, even when they disagree. Towards the end of the book, the characters are forced to make some especially difficult choices, but that only made me even more emotionally invested in the story. The ending is surprising and definitely not a happily-ever-after, but I'm a sucker for endings like that anyway. I loved it and can't wait to see what obstacles these characters encounter in the next book.