Review: Broken by C.J. Lyons
Author: C.J. Lyons
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc.
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Format/Source: ARC/From Publisher, via BEA
New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons makes her YA debut with a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing to the very last page.
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. (Cover photo and synopsis from Goodreads.)
Expectations and the Unexpected…
There were a couple of things I expected when I sat down to read Broken. First, I was expecting it to be a page-turning thriller, and second, I was expecting the book to cause me to be extremely anxious. I got a bit of both. But let me start with that second one.
There have been a few reviews I’ve written on this blog where I’ve talked about my anxiety, but I really haven’t gone into full detail. And I don’t plan on doing that now, either, but let me just say that having anxiety, and having panic attacks, is not fun. At all. And for me, my triggers are things like having trouble breathing, choking, and basically anything that has to do with the heart, like racing pulse, heart attacks, etc. (And also seizures apparently, as I found out reading another book this year, but that’s beside the point.) So going into a book about a girl with a rare heart disease made me anxious about becoming anxious. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy of anxiety, and it’s just not a great way to live. But I still wanted to read this book because I thought it sounded cool with the whole thriller aspect. So luckily, I didn’t get too anxious with this book.
But as far as the thriller aspect goes, there really wasn’t much at all, until the last 50 pages. It actually kinda seemed more like a completely contemporary YA novel about a girl who has a rare disease and would like to live a “normal” life for a while before she dies. I think that in itself would have been a good story. And don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this story, but, like with the fact that it wasn’t really a thriller until the end of the book, there were lots of other things going on in the story. Way too many things. We got a full detailed back story of almost all the major characters and Scarlet, the main character, had to deal with all of those issues on top of her own. Sure, life is like that: we all have our own story and childhood and issues. But I just felt like it could have been pulled back a bit.
I felt like the story was going in too many directions, and when it finally got into the thriller part of the story (which was my favorite part), I was kind of wondering what this book really was trying to be. Was it trying to be a story about a girl coming to terms with her disease, and trying to come into her own by going to a normal high school? Was it a story about a girl who thinks that she has all these horrible problems, only to find out that her life is actually more normal than she thinks, because of all of her peers’ issues? Or was it meant to be a thriller all along? I mean, I know that, the way this was written, you weren’t supposed to know much until the end. I get that. And yes, books can have all those multiple layers. But it just felt like a bit too much to me.
However, I did end up liking the end of the book quite a lot (even though it was crazy and super creepy!). I just wish it had been more suspenseful throughout the rest of the book. I also found quite a few inconsistencies throughout the book, and I was left with some questions at the end, but I did read the ARC, and perhaps those problems were corrected in the final copy.
My rating for Broken by C.J. Lyons:
More like 3 3/4 stars, almost 4. I really did enjoy the ending but it wasn’t quite enough to make up for the other issues I had with the book.