Dominic Breiter

Judson Bottom, WI

Mailman, 30. Film school dropout.

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Subverts Expectations

Go into this one with an open mind, trusting the author's madness, his warped sense of humor, his penchant for the bizarre, because I promise that eventually you will mind-meld with this story, you will acclimate to its ranting cadence and original sci-fi concepts. My only quibble is that past/present tenses are sometimes inconsistent. Otherwise I really have no significant criticisms of this bizarro masterwork. It was a fun ride and I'll be back to check out more in the series.

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Vivid, light-hearted portrait of Americana

This book is not set in the Midwest, but being a Midwesterner I very much felt at home in it. The locations, situations, and personalities all rang very true, whisking be back to my own school days. Greg is a very self-aware writer in the best way possible. When he tackles a genre, he does so fully conscious of its tropes and cliches and uses those to play with the reader's expectations, faking us out, getting us to anticipate Development A or B only to be subverted by Development Q. And unlike certain romcoms on the market, these characters are the furthest thing from cardboard cutouts. They are messy, a little damaged, a little lost and afraid to feel too hopeful based on past disappointments. I'll read anything with strong characters--that is literally my only criterion--because strong characters, as Greg so deftly proves here, can take a plot about little league, small-town politics, petty grudges, the everyday minutiae of life, and make it more compelling than a spy thriller. Spy thrillers, while exciting, often leave me cold in the way of character attachment. From the earliest chapters I cared about Greg's cast with an almost familial intensity. They could've sat around collecting stamps and mowing their lawns and I would've been game for it. But instead Greg crafts a subtle, deeply nuanced, and representative tableau of small-town America that is so effortless to read it's easy to underestimate the amount of thought and creativity that went into it. Greg doesn't wear his mastery on his sleeve, and that's the mark of a true master.

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Bravo!

I've read a few things by Malcom Twigg at this point, all very good, stylistically original and unmistakable, but this one takes the cake. This one here is obviously fit for publication and widespread mass appeal. The language is flawless and urbane, often to comic effect. The satire is never cheap or ham-fisted. This is a novel that has been fine-tuned to perfection, and I'm so glad I stumbled on it. Twigg is easily one of the most proficient writers on this site. I can assert that with confidence. Can't wait for the sequel. These are characters who deserve to be revisited.

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Buen trabajo!

This author has a way of always serving up exactly the kind of book I'm craving at the moment. It's a difficult thing to comment on current events through a work of fiction without constructing characters that aren't just pawns. The characters clearly come first for McLaughlin. They are rich with admirable and non-admirable motivations, deceit, faulty judgment, and best intentions gone awry. All the while they are pitted against the bureaucratic monolith that is American immigration policy, which has been so well researched that one really shares the anxieties of these characters and lauds them when they find artful ways to play the system.
Chuck is my favorite kind of protagonist, in that the reader often wants to scream at him out of frustration throughout the book - so much more engaging than your typical hero: an invulnerable pillar of forbearance and decency. His wife, for me, is the real linchpin of the story. Stephanie comes to life more and more as challenges big and small are hurled at her from all directions. It would've been easy to make her a sideline caricature, but McLaughlin paints her psychology and inner workings with a deft brush. She really is the force that propels the book onward. I could gush about the cast for pages.
Despite what you might think by reading the blurb, this is a character-driven rather than a plot-driven narrative, the plot serving mainly as a framework, while the mistakes and achievements of myriad players dictate how things unfold. Well worth your time if you're looking for something fresh and original, something that isn't all candy-coated escapism but poses relevant questions without ever once cramming an agenda down your throat. Realistic, balanced, and heart-wrenching. These and so many more attributes are what Broken English serves up to grand effect. Este libro supero mis expectativas.

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not what i expected, in a good way

This is a story it would be easy to spoil so I'll try and keep it vague because I know some people like to read reviews before they read the book. Let's just say, when I finished this I did not feel as though I'd read a romance but rather a drama with elements of horror woven in. This is a great cautionary tale that shows how low self-esteem--a pretty universal trait among teens but common also among adults if not dealt with properly--can open one up to flattery and coercion.

The supernatural twists are subtle, and the story probably does not NEED them, but I'm glad they're there because they buffer how psychologically dark this novel gets. There is some rich, albeit obvious, metaphor at work here and what really compels the reader is how authentic all the characters feel, with distinct personalities and backstories. If not for the grammatical mistakes this would be a quick breezy read, economically told.

There are run-on sentences and some confusing phrasing. Also, I cannot stress how many more commas ought to be added. But as a rough draft it shows serious promise, and I have no doubt that if this writer sticks to it she will be churning out bestsellers in ten years.

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Just. Plain. Awful.

This is most abominable tripe it's ever been my misfortune to stumble on. I would literally rather watch a snuff film than be forced to glimpse a single page of this codswallop. If there is any justice in this world this author will be buried alive in a clammy grave and once a year a herd of oxen will be coerced to shit there.

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Coming along very nicely!

I love a story about guerrillas and insurgents and this one delivered. Wasn't afraid to capture the complicated ambivalence of any such movement. The action and the chemistry between characters is fantastic. I really got invested in this sense of community. Maybe two or three less teary-eyed exchanges would bump up the emotional impact of the remaining ones. Only use tears when it really really counts in my humble opinion. My only other suggestion would be a little more world building. Where are we exactly, what is the origin of the Core, how did it come to power and what did it replace? I think there is a lot of potential to have a really vivid universe here. Maybe some of those answers will be revealed in the sequel, which I very much look forward to reading!

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Compassionate human tale

An underdog story for the ages. This is a story that grips you from the first heart-wrenching chapter and asks all the uncomfortable questions: about society, about mental illness, about the wealth gap and corruption in our most esteemed institutions. "Under the Aurora" makes clear that anyone of us, despite our best efforts, could have the rug of destiny pulled out from under us. This is a story about people who have, and how they subsequently cope, struggle, claw their way back to the top armed with an optimism, a willpower, that is nearly impossible to maintain when everything seems to be working against them. I don't want to give away spoilers or specifics, but for all the tumult this skilled author puts you through, trust that at the end of it you will emerge more thoughtful and more in awe of your fellow man. If you've read McLaughlin before, you know what his talents are, and none of them lag in this latest manuscript. We're fortunate that he is as prolific as he is, his stories as diverse as they are, always imbued with a humanism and an all-too-relatable complexity.

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