|Cover Rating: ★★★☆☆|
Author: A.E. Rought
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.
A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry's boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.
When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she's intrigued despite herself. He's an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely... familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel's.
The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there's something very wrong with Alex Franks. And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks' estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.
Even though this one wasn't get the greatest reviews, I was still intrigued by the blurb. And as a fan of retellings, I was curious and knew I'd need to pick it up. Well, Broken isn't really what I was expecting, although the blurb does give a lot away. The very beginning is very Twilight-esque: super clumsy girl, mysterious guy whose father is a doctor, reluctant lab partners...you get the picture. Then it becomes the almost typical YA romance.
The first three-quarters of the book is very much romance driven. That's not a bad thing, but it wasn't very interesting. It's a lot of Emma's best friend telling her that Alex likes her and that she obviously likes him, even if she doesn't admit it, and high school rumors. I did appreciate that Emma is confused about her feelings for Alex. She knows she likes him, but she's not sure if it's really him, or the fact that she sees so much of her dead boyfriend in him and she's projecting. Of course, we already know what her attraction to him is, so it was just a matter of her finding out the truth. Like I said, the blurb and the fact that this is a Frankenstein retelling kind of gives the twist away.
Alex Franks is obviously Frankenstein's monster, but how did he get that way? At the very beginning he tells Emma that his father brought him back to life, which doesn't seem to faze her at all. I found it strange that she didn't find that strange, just accepted it and it was never brought up again until closer to the end. There's a lot of wasted pages in Broken, and I think it could have been about 100 pages shorter if the author had gotten to the "mystery" of Alex and Daniel's similarities sooner, rather than dragging out the boring romance aspect. The story is also quite repetitive as we see Emma waking up, getting dressed (with difficulty to remind us she has a broken hand), grabbing breakfast and coffee, meeting up with Bree, going to class, and being walked home every single day. It was unnecessary.
It also suffered from a lot of telling rather than showing. Emma is suppose to be devastated from the death of her boyfriend, but she only tells us that she misses him. Her actions suggest he never existed, until she randomly brings him up again. Emma also occasionally tells us about the conversations she's having rather than there being dialogue. I found that kind of strange, since these were conversations that were supposed to be happening in the present, not her recalling something past. It was just a little awkward to read.
In short, Broken was disappointing. There's no suspense or mystery, and the romance is lackluster. I think if the blurb was more vague, the story wouldn't have felt so obvious. It's not all bad, but I can't honestly recommend it either.
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