REVIEW: Broken by CJ Lyons

brokenBroken by CJ Lyons
Sourcebooks Fire, 2013
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now… or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does.

mythoughtsOkay, so this was another book that I read ages ago and then drug my feet on writing a review for, so forgive me if this seems a bit disorganized or all over the place. The truth is, I didn’t find this book overly memorable – it was okay; a solid mystery (although I sort of had things figured out prior to finishing it) with a nice atmosphere and an overall likable main character. However, it wasn’t amazing or spectacular by any means, and not something I’ll ever re-read. Still, I had fun while reading it, which is sometimes all I’m looking for in a book, so I consider that a win if nothing else.

I do want to say that Scarlet – our main character in Broken – took a little while for me to really connect with. I’m actually not sure I ever really did completely, which probably is why this book didn’t really stick in my memory upon completing it. She is slowed down considerably by a medical condition that could actually kill her in an instant: the inability to moderate her heart rate. Scarlet, though, wants to experience life as a real high schooler and teenager, so convinces her school nurse mother to allow her to enroll in her mom’s school. Much of the first part of the book involves her meeting some other folks in a school “support” group to help the teens ensconce themselves into the school, and also developing a crush on an attractive boy in one of her classes. She also has a run-in with the requisite school bully, only this one doesn’t come in the form of a mean girl, but rather a mean boy who takes gleeful pleasure in terrorizing her and the others in the above-mentioned support group. Honestly I found him a bit over the top, particularly the staff’s inability to see how much of a goon he is and/or not punishing him appropriately for some of the things he pulls. We also have some weird back stories to some of the other kids in Scarlet’s group whose stories are kind of slowly unraveled and revealed. Again, I found one of the plot lines a bit far-fetched, but maybe that’s because I work in a school so am aware of the whole “mandatory reporter” thing regarding suspicion of child abuse and neglect; that whole scenario just did not ring true to me in the slightest.

However, this book did have a really great atmosphere and sort of spooky setting, even while taking place in a contemporary world. I liked the way the author weaved the mystery into Scarlet’s everyday existence and I also liked that Scarlet took a lead role in figuring out what was going on. I always like it when girls are strong and determined, and while I didn’t love her completely, I did like that she didn’t back down even when her mom told her to leave some things alone. I also enjoyed the relationship between Scarlet and her physics partner (whose name escapes me – sorry!), mostly because he seemed very down to earth and really helped pull her out of her sheltered life. That being said, I didn’t like the love triangle that felt very much forced upon the story, so definitely could have done without that.

All in all, I found Broken to be an okay read. I didn’t love it, didn’t hate it, but found it more of something in the middle. Would I recommend it? Sure, if you’re looking for a sort of minor-thriller with nice atmosphere. But I didn’t love the characters, and found much of the story itself to be too far-fetched to believe, particularly since this was set in a contemporary, non-fantastical world. Still, others have loved this, so don’t let my opinion be your one and only say-so!


An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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4 Responses to REVIEW: Broken by CJ Lyons

  1. That cover is like a mash up of the one for A Map of the Known World and Twenty Boy Summer lol.

    Sorry the book was a bit ‘meh’ overall. It’s disappointing because the premise sounds quite cool and mysterious! Sucks when a book doesn’t live up to its potential.

  2. Quinn says:

    I haven’t really heard too much about this book. The premise looks interesting, and I’m curious about what the danger is. But if you were only so-so about it, then I don’t think I’ll be pushing it to the top of my ridiculous TBR list.

    • Merin says:

      I was really caught by the idea behind this book, but the execution and story itself was less than stellar. I’d definitely not shove it to the front of any list. :)

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