Friday, October 26, 2018

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver
Release Date - October 2, 2018
Publisher Website - Harper Collins Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  416 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods.

Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.

The only thing is: they didn’t do it.

On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous. 
True crime has had a strong resurgence in pop culture media. It is no surprise that it is trickled into the books that are being published. Broken Things has some ‘ripped from the headlines’ inspiration  and some general inspiration from the genre. I have come to accept that I typically feel very mixed about Lauren Oliver’s books and Broken Things is no exception.

I always find Lauren Oliver's ideas incredibly fascinating but sometimes do not feel the execution is as strong as I would like it to be. This book tops quite a few of her more recent ones for me, but I still was left wanting more from a lot of the elements included in this book.

The inclusion of Lovelorn, a fantastical world from one of the girls favourite novels, is a large crux of the story. We see how immersed and how obsessed these girls were with both the novel and the place itself. It offers a interesting slant to much of what the reader is experiencing and gives this story a little something extra. This element is what makes this story something other than a typical mystery book and it helps that it one of the more well developed aspects of the novel.

The mystery itself is engaging and I predict many will find the ending satisfying for a lot of reasons. The two timelines that propel the narration are used effectively to contrast the characters and how much they were impacted by the events that happened due to Summer's death. It also keeps the mystery and plot moving along at a decent pace so that the reader stays engaged. Plenty of what works about this story comes down to Lauren Oliver's ability to weave together this mystery.

The truth behind what happened to Summer takes this story from one that is possibly steeped in the fantastical and grounds it in sharp reality. There is a slight Slenderman influence to the story before it veers into something else entirely. The ending would have been much more interesting if we were able to explore the ramifications a little further. It feels like an ending given to be shocking and wrap up the story without really dealing with anything beyond that. I did appreciate the very true crime slant to the story and the ways the unwanted infamy destroyed the lives of these young girls.

The relationships and friendships are the heart of this story and I, personally, found some of them not developed enough. The bond between the three girls is probably the most developed and the most interesting but even that was something I didn't quite connect to. Sadly, the characters themselves did not quite connect for me and that made it more difficult to connect to their story. I would have appreciated stronger voice for the characters as none of them really jumped out to me or were all that memorable. It is hard to talk about the characters as a result because they didn't leave a big impression on me.

For those who have a hard time with animal cruelty there is a scene that I think may be hard for many to read. The scene never quite feels warranted to me. I get the desperation in which the event occurs and why it was included but I am not sure it was effective as the author intended and I have heard from other readers that they skipped it so any effectiveness is being lost as a result.

Broken Things for me is an excellent premise that just didn’t quite reach its promise. Fans of Lauren Oliver’s other works will no doubt enjoy this one as well, but I personally found myself wanting more from it. I think this will be a pretty polarizing read for a lot of people but I myself ended up feeling mixed towards it overall.

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