{Review} BROKEN by C.J. Lyons

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

   IF YOU WANT TO GET NOTICED fast, try starting high school three weeks late as the girl who almost died.
   Unfortunately, attention is the last thing I crave. Give me anonymity anytime. Every time.
   I just want to be a normal girl. No one special.
   Saw a movie once, don't remember what channel, but it was in the dark hours of the night when it was just me and the TV. My favorite time of day.
   It starred John Travolta back when  he was young. The kid was so sick he lived in this plastic bubble and he was so excited when he got to leave it.
   Me? When I saw the boy leave his bubble, I wanted it for myself. Coveted it.
   God, how I'd die for a cozy little bubble to live my life in, safe from the outside world.
   Only I'd paint my bubble black so no one could see me inside.

I didn't know much about BROKEN by C.J. Lyons when I got it at BEA. I've worked with its publisher Sourcebooks frequently as of late, and have enjoyed the YA novels they've been releasing and decided to take a chance! I went into BROKEN blind. In the beginning, I was expecting the novel to be a sobfest, something to recommend to fans of John Green's THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. I wasn't expecting it to turn into anything else! I had no clue that Lyons was an adult mystery/thriller writer, or maybe I would have suspected that more than one topic would be at play in BROKEN!

BROKEN is also inspiring because Lyons based it around the real-life experience of her teenage niece Abby. Lyons used to be work in a pediatrician ER and actually diagnosed her niece with Long QT Syndrome (a heart condition) when she was only 20 minutes old. Hearing this after reading the book and seeing this Q&A video that Sourcebooks made featuring Lyons and her niece really touched me:

Scarlet has been sick most of her life. It took a long time for doctors to diagnose her with Long QT Syndrome. Scarlet now carries around her own portable defibrillator, nicknamed Phil. She's been home-schooled all her life, but now that the doctors have told her that she most likely won't live much longer, she wants to experience everything she's missed out on. She wants to go to school. Unfortunately for her, Phil sets off the school metal detector and she has an immediate run-in with a popular football player. He decides to make her life hell. She's bullied horribly and finds solace only with a small peer group with the unfortunate  nickname PMS. These kids are often bullied as well, but they all stick up for one another and try to make each day a better one. To top it all off, Scarlet's mom is is the school's nurse. She's privy to every single detail that goes wrong and is convinced that Scarlet doesn't belong in school, but at home, safe and sound. When Scarlet starts a school assignment researching her medical history, she discovers more wrong with her than she ever imagined possible...

BROKEN takes a while to pick up and get going. Scarlet leads a very sheltered life, and her new day-to-day life is extreme. The bullying is extreme, and it's sad that no adults were on the victim's side except for parents. They just let the popular kids run amuck and get off with slaps on the hand so that they won't miss "the big game," etc. Tragic. I saw the big twist coming before Scarlet did, but genuinely hoped I wasn't right. It really changes the course and momentum of the novel and takes things in a new direction during the last fourth of the book, which is much more fast-paced than its earlier portion.

I really enjoyed seeing Scarlet face so many things for the first time, and honesty in the way Lyons portrayed them. From wondering about first kisses and how to respond to actually participating in one and having it be more slobbery than "dream-come-true-amazing"...that's all real. It made more over-the-top moments (mostly the extreme bullying) much more buyable. I wasn't a fan of how short each chapter was. It reminded me of how intensely I dislike James Patterson's short-chapter style. Maybe it's a mystery/thriller thing to keep the momentum, I don't know! But I always hate short chapters, personally. I love long, meaty ones. At the same time, it's much easier to recommend books with short chapters to reluctant readers and get them reading! Double-edged sword.

There aren't enough mystery/thriller novels in YA, and many teens request this genre. I think it's becoming more popular now as the publishing industry seeks out Gillian Flynn GONE GIRL-inspired thrillers for both YA and Adult audiences. It will be great to see a boom in this genre!
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This cover is awesome in person! I wanted to take a picture and show it to you, but I kept forgetting...and now it's too late!

The heart is made with some great 3-D texture that you can rub your hand over, and when you lift the dustjacket and peer at the naked binding, there's a foil red heart imprinted there, too! Great surprise!!!

The interior is pretty awesome, too, and continues the design of broken shards:

I like that there's more than one meaning to this cover's title and design. It's most obviously about a broken heart that's been through too much!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: C.J. Lyons
Release Date: Nov. 5, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Received: For Review (BEA Copy)

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.


  1. This book sounds very good. Will add it to my list for good reads. Keep up the good reviews Bonnie :)


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