Author A.E. Rought
This title will be released on January 8, 2013.
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A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry's boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog. When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she's intrigued despite herself. He's an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely... familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel's. The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there's something very wrong with Alex Franks. And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks' estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.
Review: Broken is not a re-telling of the original in modern time, but rather a reflection of a favored classic. A.E. Rought uses elements and themes set forth by Shelley to create this sci-fi young adult Frankenstein-ish novel. What works is the spin, making it fresh and interesting. Fortunately, this contemporary take incorporates the lyrical prose of the Gothic tradition. This enriches the tale, making it a complete work of fiction, rather than simply a story with a cool theme. The young love, torn heart and strong familiar bonds is skin-tingling delicious. It will make your heart ache and race at the same time. Even though the characters are young, the love has an authentic feel that runs old, similar to that of Bronte, Austen and Shelley's characterization. It is ethereal, eternal and believable in the sense that it comes from a place that transcends age. What cements the overwhelming depiction is the daily, modern functions of family and school routines, such as friendship, homework and dinner time.
With that praise said, I should mention that I did waver on my rating because I felt there were a few drawbacks to the overall depiction. First, the 'hazel eye' factor becomes annoying. I'm not big on repetitive reminders of eye color. In the book's defense, it actually does provide significance, but it is mentioned, discussed, referred to so much (even in the synopsis) that it had me ready to scream aloud, "I got it! Enough already, Geez!" Nevertheless, the beautifully constructed lyric proses out-weighted this nuisance. Next, the setting of Michigan really is not intrinsically relevant. The story could take place in any location that had a beach nearby. There was very little that specifically made this place uniquely Muskegon, Michigan. The reader can look at the generalization as a message that the story could happen anywhere, but if wishing to stick with the Gothic detailing, and importance of setting as it applies to Shelley's Frankenstein, this fails and may disappoint. For me, I can forgive the overall portrait because the incorporation of the graveyard and historical estate provide enough imagery to steady this contemporary young adult version. Lastly, the reader will feel much smarter than poor Emma because they'll likely be way ahead of her in figuring out the puzzle. Emma is painfully clueless mid-way, even when the obvious is practically bashing her over the head with clues. Don't expect a surprise twist because you'll likely see it all coming before our heroine. To my relief, some things do happen that save the story and pick up the plot, climax, and speed. It's not a huge OMG moment, but it thematically works. Frankly, it satisfied my expectations and restored my faith in the text. Overall, I truly loved the work and think it is a book that must be read all the way through to the finish to get the entire understanding. It will linger long after the last page is turned.
*ARC provided by Strange Chemistry courtesy of NetGalley