Monday, 12 November 2018

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Review: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Broken Things by Lauren OliverNetGalleyBroken Things by Lauren Oliver (eProof) - 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.
From Goodreads.

Trigger Warning: This book features animal cruelty, discussion of violent murder, discussion of bad experiences in foster care, implies - though doesn't outright show or say - child abuse.

Beautiful Things by Lauren Oliver sounded horribly sinister and so intriguing, but in the end, I found it to be a pretty forgettable read.

Five years ago, Summer Marks was murdered in the woods. Everyone believes that her best friends Mia and Brynn, and her boyfriend, Owen, did it - even though they were never convicted of it. But as that was mostly down to police mistakes - contamination of evidence, police failing to caution Mia and Brynn - everyone believes they got away with murder. That their obsession with a fantasy book The Way into Lovelord, and their fanfic sequel, Return to Lovelord, turned violent; Summer's murder was a re-enactment of the sacrifice they wrote into their fanfic. But it's not true, they didn't do it. But their lives have been turned upside down, not only by the murder of their best friend, but by people believing they did it. Brynn has been in and out of various rehab facilities for drugs and alcohol, though she fakes it every time as she can't bare to be around her mother and sister, who believe she did it. Mia was treated so badly she had to leave school, and is now homeschooled, while her mother turned to hoarding. But when clearing out her house, Mia finds their old favourite book, she discovers something that makes her believe that Summer parts of their fanfic weren't actually written by her. There's someone else who knows about Lovelorn, who knows what happened in their sequel, about the sacrifice. It's the first clue to finding out what really happened to Summer, finding out who killed her, and proving their innocence. If they can work out who did it, maybe they can finally move on.

Broken Things sounds really intriguing, as I said, and I was completely gripped throughout. I loved the dual narration by Mia and Brynn, seeing how their lives had changed since the murder, and the flashbacks, showing us their friendship with Summer - Summer, who was troubled; Summer, who was beautiful and special; Summer, who was often cruel and vicious - and their love for a story. I also loved the extracts from The Way into Lovelorn, and their fanfic sequel, Return to Lovelorn. Both books had quite dark and sinister elements to them, that was kind of troubling, especially as the girls had started to believe that Lovelorn was real, that they had found their way into it - a shed in the woods that was filled with old equipment belonging to people who are no longer around is one day transformed into a cute little cabin, with wallpaper and and furniture, a little hideaway the girls hang out in, and believe to be their entrance into the fictional world. It was all so interesting and intriguing!

But to be honest, I didn't really care about any of the characters. I disliked Summer, because she was such a bitch, but it was implied that, although it's not excusable, she has had a really hard time of it in various foster homes, and so that's why she is like she is. But I didn't really care about anyone else. And looking back - even though I was completely captivated, always reading, always wanting more answers - nothing really happened. Not in the present. When they're trying to work things out, it's just a load of conversations with people, research we don't see much of, and re-reading of the stories. There aren't even that many leads, it's mostly guesswork. It's not the kind of thriller that point out a number of genuine possible suspects. The few they think it could possibly be are obviously not the killer. For me, there just weren't enough real possible suspects, where I came up with my own theories of, "Oh, it could be them, because of XYZ, but it could also possibly be them, because of ABC." I had one suspect in mind, without anything actually pointing to them, because I just thought "Wouldn't it be funny if it turned out to be X?" But I was wrong. I didn't at all guess who actually did it, and was quite surprised at the reveal. But even the climax was really underwhelming, if you can even call it a climax. But I do guess that that makes it even more sinister, because there was nothing sinister or evil about them, and yet they are clearly unhinged, murdered a child, and it's hinted at sexually abused her. But there was never any sense of more danger to come. I just expect, when reading a thriller, that when you're trying to find a murderer, and you get close, the murderer is going to try and kill you to shut you up, or because you're a convenient next victim, in that they want to kill you to shut you up, but they also find some kind of enjoyment in it. But there was none of that.

So with not a huge amount actually happening, and a disappointing climax, I do feel it was kind of forgettable. I did finish thinking, "That's it?" It's not that the book was awful or terrible, it just wasn't thrilling enough for a thriller, in my opinion. It does have some plus points in regards to representation - Brynn is a lesbian, and Mia used to have selective mutism, and still struggles with it occasionally today, and with Mia's mother struggling with hoarding, and Mia's current best friend, Abby, being omnisexual. But overall, I was fairly disappointed.

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton via NetGalley for the eProof.

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Published: 18th October 2018
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Lauren Oliver's Website

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