Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: Broken by C.J. Lyons

This is a quick, suspenseful little read. I won an arc from Tiffany at About to Read (thanks Tiffany!) and it landed on my doorstep just as NaNoWriMo was kicking off. I sat on it for awhile, and then dove in one night when my fingers were bleeding from trying to force out the NaNo wurdz.

If it feels like I'm spending more time reviewing how I got the book and went about reading it than the book itself, that's true, and it's probably because I don't have a whole lot to say, unfortunately. The book wasn't awful or anything; it was just kind of meh. It's kind of a horror/suspense/mystery type novel, and I figured out very early on how it would end. This isn't because I'm some genius at unraveling mystery novels (in fact I'm usually pretty dense about such things)--rather, I'm pretty sure this exact scenario played out on an episode of House years ago.

15-yr old Scarlet Killian has had a rough life, to say the least. In an out of hospitals with a rare heart condition for as long as she can remember, she convinces her parents to let her go to high school for one week during her sophomore year. Though they're terrified she'll keel over and die at any moment, they begrudgingly agree to let her live like a regular teenager for the one week.

The pacing of the novel is well done, with each chapter consisting of one day of Scarlet's life at high school. Slowly, the author reveals certain clues about Scarlet's life, like the weird dreams she has about a baby boy being smothered by clowns, the fact that she has zero memory of massive periods in her life, and the way her step mother (the school nurse) seems just a little too involved in the personal lives of many students at the high school.

I don't know. Like I said, it's a very suspenseful novel and it's one that you will want to read cover to cover in one sitting. But, at the end of the day, I guess I just didn't feel it was terribly original. I won't give away what happens other than to say that "what happens" has already happened in at least one episode of a very popular TV show, and I'm pretty sure there is a Lifetime movie (or five) with this exact plot as well. It's predictable and I'm not sure C.J. Lyons adds anything too exciting or unique to the tale, unfortunately. I realize that plenty of "plots" have been done again and again, but I think it's easier to forgive this type of thing when it happens in a romance novel. If it's a mystery novel and you've got the same exact set up and conclusion as other popular works out there, that's a problem. Maybe if there had been some unique twists or if Scarlet's voice had been particularly interesting or unusual in some way, it would have worked, but that didn't seem to be the case.

Still, it's clear that C.J. Lyons is an experienced storyteller. The writing was very good and the pacing was excellent, keeping me engaged from the first page to the last.

3 stars.


  1. I've been wanting to read this. Great review!