Thursday, 3 January 2013

Broken by A E Rought

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from Broken by A E Rought; it had been a few months since I'd read the blurb and, having glanced at it again just now, I'm glad I'd completely forgotten about it while reading. In short, don't read the blurb: it not only spoils the plot, it emphasises an aspect that doesn't become prominent until half way or so, potentially leading to disappointment.

Emma is a seventeen year old Michigan high school girl, whose boyfriend died in a tragic accident the past summer (and it's nearing the end of October as the book opens). Understandably, she's still sad about his death and hasn't been entirely able to let go yet.

Enter Alex, the new boy at school. He's hot, mysterious and seems to be fascinated by Emma. Emma, meanwhile, feels bad about her interest in him — it feels like cheating on her dead boyfriend's memory — and also senses something strange and wrong about him that she can't quite put her finger on.

In essence, this is a story about their slowly blooming relationship. I thought the pace at which Emma's feelings and their relationship developed — in story terms — was pleasantly slow. There was no irrational insta-love from Emma and we see lots of minor key moments in the development of their relationship, like SMSes that give Emma gooey feelings with only a few words, and uncertainly, and small nice moments. Although in actual time the book spans less than a month, I found the development of their relationship absolutely believable. If it's a little faster in actual time than is necessarily realistic, there are solid plot/spoiler reasons for that.

Because I hadn't read the blurb before starting to read, I wasn't sure where the supernatural elements were going to come in. My first guess was ghosts, partly from the cover (but that's not a ghost, that's Emma in the dress she wears to the school Halloween dance), partly because of Emma dwelling on her dead boyfriend. Once the hints started appearing, I triumphantly worked out what was going on reasonably quickly, but not in an annoying way. However, since the blurb reveals what the "twist" is (OK it's not really a twist, more of a slow revelation of the premise — if you're curious look it up on goodreads or the publisher website), I think reading with that knowledge could have been frustrating. Although maybe I would have picked up on some of the horror references Rought scattered throughout the names sooner.

Once the climactic action approached, there was no denying this was a horror novel, albeit it one with a strong love story surrounding it. Eventually the shit hits the fan and Emma and Alex are running for their lives. I liked that in the course of events, Emma did some of the saving, although Alex did more of it, that can be excused by Emma's repeatedly broken hand (three times, it gets broken/re-broken three times). She definitely doesn't wait around to be saved, which is always nice to see.

I highly recommend Broken to readers who enjoy reading about relatively believable relationships in YA (plot weirdness notwithstanding) and who maybe want a bit of creepiness and horror in their fiction. Or to any readers who enjoy references to classic horror stories. I will be keeping an eye out for future YA books by Rought (she's also written three (adult) romance and paranormal romance books for adults).

4.5 / 5 stars

Published: January, 2013
Series: nope, standalone
Format read: eARC (available in paperback and all relevant ebook formats)
Source: From the publisher, Strange Chemistry (YA imprint of Angry Robot) via NetGalley

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