Broken Thingsby Published 02 Oct 2018
It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods.
Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.
The only thing is: they didn’t do it.
On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.
"Broken Things" Reviews
🤔 What really happened to Summer 😵 ? Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods. Everyone thinks her best friends did it... they didn't.
Broken Things was definitely an engaging read, unfortunately it was also quite predictable. The story begins on the 5th anniversary of Summer's brutal murder. We know that her best friends, Mia and Brynn, didn't do it. Yet, each girl holds pieces of the puzzle, secrets they have never shared with anyone.
Mia and Brynn haven't spoken since they were accused of Summer's murder. While cleaning out her home Mia uncovers the book they were obsessed with - The Way into Lovelorn. In the early days of their friendship the girls spent their days recreating the book in their very own Lovelorn, a decorated shack in the woods. The girls' frenzy for the story lead to a shared obsession for writing a sequel. Mia knows the truth of Summer's murder is somehow tied to Lovelorn. Summer was the most obsessed of them all. She had introduced them to the world of Lovelorn and was its gatekeeper. After her death, Lovelorn had simply disappeared. One day the shack was there with its flowered wallpaper and decorations. The next, it was back to being just a dusty abandoned shack. It was as if their Lovelorn had never really existed. The police wrote off Mia's story as fantasy but she knew there was more to it. Lovelorn had existed and the key to solving Summer's murder lay with it.
I enjoyed the idea of the story and the main characters were well developed. Brynn and Mia were both struggling as a result of their friend's murder. I found the direction their lives had taken since the murder interesting and enjoyed watching them reconnect. The cast of side characters - Owen and Abby were quirky and awesome. So why then did I rate the book just 3 stars? The predictability factor did it for me. I figured out who really killed Summer very early on and while I was hoping to be proven wrong, I wasn't. I was also very underwhelmed by the entire reveal. Once I suspected who it was, I knew the reason - it was the only plausible one in my mind. I was really hoping for something more. All in all this was a good read. It just wasn't amazing.
For the most part, mystery novels, whether they be YA or adult, have always left me entertained with their stories. I've read my fair share of good mysteries as well as bad ones. And unfortunately, Broken Things is one of the bad ones. Not bad that I hated the story, but bad in that I was expecting more but didn't get much.
Broken Things takes inspiration from the Slenderman Stabbing that happened a few years back. The main characters, Mia and Brynn are the town pariahs. Five years ago, they were accused of killing their friend Summer in a ritualistic way based on a book they've read. Since there was no incriminating evidence that they actually killed Summer, they were let go but their reputation went down the drain afterward. Now, five years later, something comes up that brings both girls back together to find the real murderer.
I should've liked this book. It's got a mystery, complex characters, and knowing Lauren Oliver, it has good writing. But in the end, I didn't have much of a good time.
CW: violence and animal abuse.
If I had to sum up my thoughts on Broken Things, it would be wasted potential. There was so much about this book I should've liked. It wasn't until I was halfway through with it that I knew I would be disappointed. I still held onto the hope that it would get better but it didn't. And when I got to the end, I wasn't really satisfied with how it ended either.
I liked the characters of Mia and Brynn. They aren't simple characters. They are very much complex in regards to their emotions and actions. They can be straightforward that may come off as rude, but I find this trait to be a good thing. How they handle situations as well as their own internal struggles made me like them as characters and as individuals.
Lauren continues to shine in her writing. To me, I like it when she writes in 1st person because we can get to know her character's thoughts. We get to see more development from the characters (or whatever development there is for any character) as well as reading their true feelings.
Though I liked Mia and Brynn, there were moments in the book where I confused the two together. Earlier, I said they can be straightforward and that trait is what made me confuse the two. When a chapter from Mia's perspective was over, I thought I was still reading her POV in the next chapter only to find out I was now reading from Brynn's POV. It wasn't a major problem but still a flaw.
The mystery was not the best part of the story. There are other books out there who did take inspiration from the Slenderman Stabbing (the only one I can name is Mister Tender's Girl), but Broken Things failed on creating a complex mystery. Don't get me wrong, I was fully invested in the mystery, but as I kept reading, I just wasn't as invested as I was when starting it. I think this was the biggest flaw in the story. Which is such a shame since there was so much potential here.
When I said Broken Things was wasted potential, I do mean it. I wanted more from it. It just didn't work out for me.
Thanks for reading my review!
Actual rating: 3.5
Thank you Harper Collins for sending a review copy in exchange for an honest review
Trigger Warning: Murder, abuse, animal abuse, pedophilia, self harm and violence.
The moment I read the synopsis I knew I had to read this book. Mystery has never been one of my usual genres but I figured this one was definitely worth a try.
The way the first chapter started hooked me in immediately. I was intrigued by the plot and excited to start guessing who the real murderer was. The story was told from two perspective: Brynn and Mia. Both were Summer Marks best friends. We alternate between the two most of the time. There were chapters in between with quotes from The Way Into Lovelorn.
Brynn was a favorite. She was funny (her points of view were the funniest in my opinion) She admitted to the mistakes that she made even if she didn't voice them out loud. She had flaws but so does every character. Mia was a lot more quiet and didn't really say much to most people. She stood up when something wrong was done or said so that’s one thing. Both girls had their own things to deal with in this story. I liked getting to know how different they both were from each other.
The story was really easy to get into. I was interested from the beginning until the end. I played detective and kept keeping a mental profile of all the characters trying to guess who the murderer really was. The guessed who really killed Summer early on in the book but kept it aside. At some point I was 100% sure I was right. Turns out I actually was. I felt like guessing the killer really dimmed the magic of the story for me a little bit.
Overall, the story was really enjoyable. It was different than most of the book I’ve read. I really enjoyed the writing too. Would definitely recommend the book to those who love a good mystery.
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"Before we were the Monsters of Brickhouse Lane… we were just girls."
Broken Things is a standalone YA thriller with multiple perspective. Five years after their best friend was murdered, people still believe Brynn and Mia were the ones who did it, even though the cops couldn’t prove it. The three girls were obssessed with a fantasy novel called The Way Into Lovelorn and it turns out Summer was killed in a similar way to a Lovelorn ritual. Now, they are trying to get by, but the past won’t give them much room to move on when some new informations on what happened back then turns up.
I really enjoyed this book. I listened to it mostly in audiobook and it was very engaging. To be honest that was a surprise because when I first heard of this book I had zero intention of reading it. That is, until I heard the premise and went like “wow that actually sounds right up my alley”. I had never read anything by Lauren Oliver, but this one made me look more optimistically at her other books.
Like in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, this book had bits and pieces from both The Way Into Lovelorn and from Return to Lovelorn – a self-insert fanfic the girls wrote as a sequel to the original book – inbetween chapters. Personally, I loved that, and I felt it gave the story a nice and almost fantastical touch. The whole obssession with Lovelorn also reminded me of the same feeling with the world of Fillory in The Magicians (the tv show, I haven’t read the books yet).
"In books, secret worlds are accessible by doors or keys or other physical objects. But Lovelorn was not such a world, and appeared at whim and only when it felt like it, with a subtle change like the slow shifting of afternoon to evening."
I liked the main characters, it was interesting seeing how people’s judment and harassment over the murder affected their lives. Brynn was more hot tempered and her way of dealing with things was to fake being an addict in order to stay freely in rehab so she wouldn’t have to handle her family or outside society (oh and she’s a lesbian). Meanwhile, Mia barely leaves her house, where she lives with a mother with serious compulsive hoarding issues (like in that reality tv show Hoarders where people can’t get rid of ANYTHING, including piles of garbage). She is a shy girl who’s now homeschooled due to the haressment she suffered and shares a tutor with her only friend, a girl named Abby who is a popular fat omnisexual beautystagrammer.
Also, Summer was basically Alison DiLaurentis from Pretty Little Liars, but a poor and “lives with a foster family” version. You know the type, pretty, manipulative, the queen bee who is both loved and hated by people at the same time – including her friends.
Even though I enjoyed the book, as usual, the murderer reveal didn’t really surprise me. I honestly am used to that by now, but I still can’t tell if every murder mystery I read is somewhat predictable or if I should just become a detective already. But it’s okay, this book still gave me that “don’t want to put it down” feeling and that’s all I could ask for at this point. Also, I’d like to point out that this book switches between the perspectives of Brynn and Mia and that can get a bit confusing in the audiobook because there are three narrators – one that reads the Lovelorn stuff between the chapters, one that narrates only Brynn's chapters, and one for only Mia's -, so it’s just one person doing the voices in each chapter, and both narrators read the characters differently.
This was a good experience for me, and I hope it is for you too in case you decide to pick it up. I'll be more open to Lauren Oliver's future books from now on, although I don't particularly feel like reading her older books.
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Well, I did indeed finish this with record breaking Lauren Oliver speed. While I did have the murderer figured out by page 25 (this could be chalked up to simply reading too many mysteries) and it felt slightly bloated, overall this was a compulsive, can't put it down type of book that I think many readers will enjoy. I'm going to think on this one a bit more before writing my full review, but I'll go ahead and post trigger warnings below.
CW: Murder of children, graphic violence, pedophilia, murder and abuse of an animal (this is graphic and highly unsettling), homophobic slurs (always challenged but used multiple times throughout), and fat shaming comments.
*I received a copy for review via the publisher.