As game developers continue to chase the goal of producing ‘experiences’ and ‘products’ over creating a standalone game, we’ve seen a rise in the amount of supplementary content releasing alongside games. One of the latest addition to this ever growing list is The Division: Broken Dawn, a standalone book that acts as a sequel to The New York Collapse while also filling in some of the gaps between the first and second game.
Broken Dawn primarily revolves around April Kelleher, a civilian who survives a chemical attack on New York during Black Friday. After the events of the first book, April finds herself on the trail of her late husband’s murderers and the work he did to cure what’s known as the ‘Green Poison’ – a weaponized version of smallpox.
The story also follows a number of individuals including two Division agents, Ike Ronson and Aurelio Diaz as well as a number of young children living in Washington D.C. Through the four characters, author Alex Irvine provides a window into the post-apocalyptic world of the Division that we don’t often see in the games.
Here’s an excerpt:
He could have left anytime he wanted to, of course. Division agents were empowered by Presidential Directive 51 to act with more or less unlimited discretion. They had no rules of engagement, and answered to no authority within the military chain of command. They were recruited and trained in secret, and activated only in times of critical emergency, when the American government, and social order, was in danger of collapse. Before the Dollar Flu, Diaz had been a gym teacher in DC, with two kids and a wife who worked at a bank.
All of that had changed on Black Friday, when some nutcase had unleashed a weaponized smallpox on the world, starting right here in New York City. Within weeks it had spread all over the world . . . and Diaz’s wife, Graciela, was dead. Maybe she had touched one of the twenty‐dollar bills first infected with the virus—thus the nicknames Green Poison, Dollar Bug, et cetera—or maybe she’d caught it from someone who had. In the end, it didn’t matter. She had died along with millions of others.
Now, five months later, order wasn’t exactly restored in New York, but spring had brought new hope. Pretty soon, Diaz figured he would be able to leave New York and head back home. His kids were there. Mobilized in DC, he’d come up to New York after the first wave of Division agents were killed or went rogue in the violent chaos after the outbreak. At that time, New York had needed help and things in DC had seemed relatively sta‐ ble by comparison. He wasn’t sure that was the case anymore . . . and either way, he’d been away from Ivan and Amelia for too long. The JTF was supposed to be caring for them, but Diaz wanted to be certain.
Broken Dawn explores a lot of the themes and areas the games gloss over, sharing the struggles the characters face with safety, food, water, basic supplies and most importantly, their mental health. It’s easy to forget that there are people genuinely struggling to survive when most of my time with the series has been spent crouched behind a knee-high wall, shooting at bad guys.
This is especially noticeable with the young children living in Washington D.C; told from the perspective of a young girl named Violet, the kids live within one of the many smaller settlements in the city. Not officially under the protect of the JTF, or living with one of the bigger, safer settlements, the group scrape by on whatever they can loot from their immediate surroundings or what they can grow within the castle walls they are confined within.
This was one of the more unique and engaging stories in Broken Dawn as it showed the world from the perspective of people who were not only powerless in a brutal world, but growing up without many of the modern conveniences we often take for granted.
Broken Dawn also explores the world outside of New York and Washington D.C, detailing how the Green Poison and the subsequent fall of modern society affected smaller towns and villages. There’s hope to be found away from big cities as many cultures and communities, specifically the Amish, have thrived. This added layer of detail not only improves the variety of the book by taking April, Aurelio and Ike out of immediate danger, but it also expands The Division’s world, making it to more than a simple action experience.
April’s story throughout the book is surprisingly gripping, albeit a little one dimensional. Her quest for answers and revenge never hits any major highs, but it does conclude in a gripping way. It’s interesting to read how all three stories intersect and how they each affects the others. It’s a shame that Aurelio and Ike are a tad plain, but as combat hardened Division agents, there isn’t a lot of room for creativity.
My biggest gripe with Broken Dawn is one it shares with The Division 2; the game uses major political division against the backdrop of the home of American politics and it doesn’t really try to do or say anything with it. Throughout the book, bad guys are bad because they just are. Often driven by power, there rarely seems to be any deeper motivation and that’s just a shame. Ike does offer us a slight break from the game’s lack of commitment to deeper ideology, but even then, the motivations aren’t particularly complex.
Broken Dawn is an enjoyable read that adds extra depth to The Division universe. On its own, it’s a adequate experience that entertains, but it doesn’t stay with you once you close the book. This is one for fans of the games that want a little bit more from the Division universe, and that’s about it.