Saturday, 5 January 2013
Review: Broken - A.E. Rought
Pages: 366 pages, ARC
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads): 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.
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.
First line: Cold seeps through my jacket while I lean on the wrought iron fence, staring at the rows of headstones parading across the lawn of Memorial Gardens cemetery.
My review: Broken is a book that really intrigued me last year. I was grabbed by the cover and the idea of a Frankenstein retelling. I've loved Frankenstein since I studied it for my A-levels so I was really keen to get stuck in and find out whether Broken could capture the tension and atmosphere of the original classic.
Broken is an interesting read and does feel relatively quick, despite it being fairly lengthy, though I do think it could benefit for being fifty or so pages shorter, as I found it began to lose its way ever so slightly in the second third. Most of the action took place in the last forty pages or so and those were an absolute highlight, full of excitement and brilliantly executed action sequences. This is where Rought's writing really shone and I hope to see more of this in her next release.
Of course, the love story is one of the central elements to Broken and I think this is where readers will be divided. I won't go into too much detail in regards to the love story but it was too much of a case of insta-love for me. There are reasons for this which are explored during the novel but I found it a little too all-encompassing and smothering to really be enjoyable, for me at least. I know a lot of readers do enjoy that so, each to their own, but it's not quite for me.
Love story aside, Broken does have some major positives, such as Rought's often beautiful turn of phrase and a seriously kick ass denouement. My only other quibble is that almost the entire plot is revealed in the blurb, so if you've read the back cover you'll pretty much know the vast majority of the story, which did ruin some of the tension but I think Rought did a brilliant job of creating a creepy, gothic atmosphere. I think Dr Franks is definitely one of the high points of the book - he might not be likable but he's definitely an unforgettable character.
Despite the niggles I mentioned above I would recommend Broken for fans of paranormal romance, so if that's your bag, you will more than likely love it. Rought has nailed building up creepy tension until the atmosphere is almost at breaking point, a skill I was seriously impressed by and I have to give a big old thank the lord for the fact this is a standalone paranormal romance - which made a really nice change to the tried and tested series format!