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Saturday, January 25, 2014

As You Might Suspect, I've Got Some Issues ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Scarlet Killian lives in fear of her own heart.  With a rare, genetic defect that makes the organ pump with abnormal rhythms, she must be careful to stay calm, breathe evenly, and always—always—keep her defibrillator handy.  She's done alright so far, but that's because she hasn't actually done anything.  Homeschooling has kept her safe, away from the drama and insecurities of the outside world.  Now that she's 15, though, Scarlet wants a chance at living like a normal teenager.  She wants to go to school, even if it means constant check-ins with the nurse (who happens to be her stepmom), lugging around heavy medical equipment, and enduring all the whispers that come with being the girl whose heart could stop at any moment. 

High school turns out to be a little more traumatic than Scarlet thought it would be, but she refuses to give up her dream of attending.  Even if it means pushing her heart to pump at dangerously high levels.  It's worth it to have real, live friends who make her feel blissfully normal.  Sure, they're all from her peer mentoring group, meaning they've all got problems.  And yet, the more she gets to know them, the more she likes them.  Jordan Summers, a hot but haunted junior, is especially intriguing.  

Scarlet's new-found independence brings a fresh awareness into her life, changing her perspective on everything.  With that clarity comes some shocking revelations—not just about Scarlet's own self, but also about her family and the helpless vulnerability with which she's always lived her life.  As she starts to see the truth, Scarlet must find the strength to cope, to persevere, and to fight for herself like she never has before. 

Reviewing Broken, the first teen book from C.J. Lyons, a prolific writer of adult thrillers, is going to be difficult.  Why?  Because the majority of Broken feels like your typical YA issue novel.  It's set mostly in a high school and seems to revolve around Scarlet's burgeoning friendships, her growing crush on Jordan, and her fear of dying before she's even begun to live.  Then, the story takes a weird turn.  And pretty much switches genres altogether.  With little warning, we're thrown into the middle of a medical thriller.  The latter part of the novel moves much faster than the former, making for an exciting, edge-of-your-seat conclusion to a story that starts out pretty humdrum.  Which was great.  I definitely enjoyed the faster pace, but the abrupt transition threw me off.  It surprised me a little too much, if you know what I mean.  Maybe I just missed all the foreshadowing, but the big plot twist felt, to me, like it came totally out of the blue.  Because of that and a couple other issues, the novel struck me as bumpy, forced and melodramatic.  So, while Broken kept me entertained on a long airplane ride, it didn't quite come together enough to really satisfy me.         

(Readalikes:  Reminded me a little of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:  I'm not sure.  I read this while on an airplane and, apparently, neglected to make careful notes like I usually do.  I don't remember any strong language, sex or violence, and Laura over at Library of Clean Reads rated the book Clean (read her review of Broken here), so I'm going with a cautious:

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of Broken from the generous folks at Sourcebooks via those at NetGalley.  
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